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They All Lost, Especially Scotland

Naturally, the missus and I have been following the British election results as closely as we can, with as much understanding as we can, which in my case isn’t much.

From what I can gather…

  • All three major parties (the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats) lost.
  • The minor parties lost too, although they weren’t expected to win. That’s what makes them minor parties.
  • The Green Party got its first-ever seat in the Parliament, so maybe they sort of won.
  • The closest winner was the Conservative Party, i.e. the Tories.
  • The biggest loser was Labour, especially the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, poor bastard.
  • After several days, the Tories and the Lib-Dems formed a coalition to govern Britain. Tory leader David Cameron is now PM, and Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg is Deputy PM.

The Tories and Lib-Dems certainly make for a curious coalition. For B&E readers who may not know the first thing about British politics, let me offer a rundown on the major parties, based on the information I’ve gleaned over the past few weeks, since this madness began:

  • The Tories are like our Republican Party, although they can often appear to be a kinder, gentler right-wing than what we’re used to here. For example, they don’t as a party categorically deny that global warming is real.
  • Labour is rather like our Democratic Party, except of course that, simply by virtue of their being British, Labour is way left to the Democrats here, particularly our rightward-shifting Democratic Party. Labour too shifted to the right in recent years, under Tony Blair’s New Labour regime (continued under Gordon Brown).
  • The Lib-Dems have traditionally been to the left of Labour on social issues and to the right of Labour on economic issues. With Labour’s trending to the right, the Lib-Dems have staked out a position often to the left of Labour. Of the three parties, for example, they were the only party to stand firmly against the Iraq War. I guess the best way to think of the Lib-Dems in crassly American terms is to think of the neo-liberal wing of the Democratic Party (i.e. the free marketeer types like Bill Clinton), but then throw in their unabashed support for things like gay marriage and their fierce protection of civil liberties (i.e. those things considered left-wing fringe by those I consider to be right-wing fringe).

So to our simple, American political minds, it does seem like an odd coalition, and truth be told, a progressive coalition among Labour, the Lib-Dems, and some of the smaller parties (such as the Green and the national parties of Wales and Scotland, which are also left-leaning) would’ve made more ideological sense.

But the Tories threw the Lib-Dems some pretty serious bones, including electoral reform (any third/minor party’s pet issue). The details are still coming out, but if I believe the few articles I’ve read about it, it seems that David Cameron and Nick Clegg are genuinely interested in forming a partnership and ruling together, no matter what their rank-and-file members may think of these strange bedfellows.

Of course, the missus and I are also particularly interested in Scotland. Things are different in Scotland. As a country, they lean much further to the left than the entirety of the United Kingdom. Labour pretty much dominates Scotland, although the Scottish National Party held onto most of the seats they already held. (At one point, the SNP leader Alex Salmond quite audaciously announced that they’d win 20 seats in Scotland. They won six.) Lib-Dems tend to be the third most popular party in Scotland overall (although they won more seats than the SNPs with 11), followed distantly by the Tories, who hold one lousy seat in Scotland.

In other words, Scotland is now represented by a coalition that a vast majority of voters couldn’t give two shits about. The Tories are particularly irrelevant, and although the Lib-Dems may help matters somewhat, Labour and SNP rule the Scottish electorate. And when the Scots feel like they’re being left out, talks of devolution and independence gather a lot of steam. From the missus and my point-of-view, this is worth keeping an eye on, particularly since the missus can be quite the Scottish Nationalist when she wants to be. She’s very cute that way.

It will still be some time before people really understand how this new government is going to work in the UK. Maybe no one will ever understand because how it’ll work will just keep shifting all the time. Who knows?

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