Saturday, 9 May 2015

Election 2015: Post-Mortem and Prepartum

With the election results yesterday a media narrative of a crushing victory for the Tories and the SNP, with Labour and the Lib Dems bereft of hope and leadership, with the first past the post system likely to be reformed any day now. I think things are a little more complicated than that. For every party there are challenges both immediate and long term which I'd like to name and propose solutions to.

The Conservatives

Yes, they have a majority, but just barely. The last time the Tories held the majority after a General Election was 1992, and the Major government was the weakest government of my lifetime, with division over Europe hobbling much of their term. David Cameron's majority is even smaller. His challenge is to keep the back-benches in line - a challenge I, unfortunately, do not see him as succeeding with.

My prediction is that, with increased popularity of some figure of the left, the Tories will become as hated as they were in '97. However, with leadership of the party changing before 2020, they still might avoid total electoral disaster.

Labour

Oh, dear. Their plan must be to find a unifying voice that is authentic, probably coming from someone who has never served as a special advisor or policy wonk.

Dan Jarvis would be my pick: as a former Major in the Parachute Regiment, he will be immune from criticism of being naive or out of touch, and will certainly not be accused of being a "north London geek." Whether the union bosses would allow him in is another matter; having coronated Ed "The Wrong" Milliband, will they once again stand in the way of the broad opinion of party members, should Dan Jarvis, or another candidate, garner a groundswell of popular support? The answer is "Yes". Why? Same reason as last time: nannying know-betterism.

I can see Chuka Umunna getting very enthusiastic backing, and I think he would make an excellent candidate. The obvious problem with both my picks is that they are both just coming through their second election and may not have the political chops to navigate a leadership election, or have the alliances necessary to corral enough MPs to endorse them. And if they do, will they fall flat on their faces at the dispatch box?

The Liberal Democrat Party

Eight MPs? Should they even be on this list? This is for main parties.

I really feel bad for Nick Clegg, who took his party into coalition five years ago in order to avoid constitutional chaos. He forsook hasty campaign promises to bring political stability to a country riven by economic crisis.

The Lib Dem support disappeared into the aether after contact with power, as if it were steam evaporating from a hot hob. In my view, the voters who deserted the Lib Dems for, primarily, UKIP, are a bunch of vapid buffoons with no conception of what it is to wield real power - as they were seemingly affronted to see their party making decisions that didn't represent their purest ideology, but rather reflected political, social and economic reality.

I applaud them for compromising like adults.

I see no way back for them soon.

SNP

Mission accomplished. Brilliant. Question: Once you've won 95% of the seats you are running for, what are you running for next time? Only to maintain your gains. They can only fight a defence from here on in. In Scotland, they are now the establishment.

Ask Nick Clegg what that's like.

My suggestion is for them to seize the opportunity they now have to become a national force by becoming a national party. Of course, they will need to change the name, but not the pro-independence-referendum policy.

As Bob Dylan said "He not busy being born is busy dying". They even have a ready-made, social media-friendly name already associated with their policies and faces and close to the hearts of their core supporters.

Ladies and Gentlemen, go with me on this, I give you "YES!". What more positive, inspiring message could be conveyed in a party name than that? They are the political mavericks, the party everyone sees as the upstarts, the underdogs, the ideological, starry-eyed dreamers - but they are also a party with real power in Scotland through the Scottish Parliament, where they can display assured maturity and intelligent stewardship (with the safety net of not quite having enough power to completely destroy their country with naivety and recklessness).

"YES!" conveys their socialist zeal to spend every last pound China has on double the number of nurses in your new local hospital where you can go for a fully funded seven year degree course in panda wrangling... OK, OK, I'm being slightly facetious. But I want you to think of this completely seriously.

They can either stand still, having maxed-out their potential, and wait to fall apart, or they can grow. If they grow, they need to change their name. "YES!" is such a positive message, which conveys their optimistic view of the potential of the electorate. They will invest in the electorate though social policies like increased funding for the NHS and free university tuition, paid for through canning Trident, drawing down military spending overseas, and real financial reform. "YES!" can co-opt and sweep away the Labour strong-holds of Liverpool and Sunderland by offering those supporters what they really want, which is a full on, peaceful, left-wing revolution.

Labour are there for the taking; a tired, jaded, sad party who don't have a clue what they stand for any more, who will barely defend themselves when challenged. How can they? The Blair and Brown governments betrayed and disappointed the Labour base by invading Iraq and leading the country to a financial collapse that hit everyone except the well-off. Labour supporters, faced with a YES! candidate preaching social egalitarianism at home and peaceful coexistence overseas, will have no convincing argument - their words would turn into ashes in their mouths.

YES! would sweep away Labour and have a huge swell of optimistic youth support. If played right, YES! could form the next government. I'm not joking. If the SNP strike now, before Labour regroups, and announce that they are going to go national, they would take a massive slice of the Labour vote, they will hoover up the outsider vote of UKIP, Lib Dem and Green, as they do not represent an establishment party, but a beautiful idea: YES!

Set against a government that will doubtless be at war with itself, arguing about Europe and the severity of austerity, YES! would become a beacon of hope, a party for the people, for the little guy, not stained with establishment or power, just representative of the blue skies of tomorrow growing ever brighter: YES! YES! YES!

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