There’s an election coming! yes of course you know. But this could be the most interesting and bizarre election in decades. The old tribal boundaries between Left and Right are really breaking down, and it’s difficult to see how they will be reconstructed after 2019.
Staunch Labour heartland constituencies that voted strongly to leave the EU are unlikely to be persuaded by Corbyn’s ambiguous Brexit position. But will they really be able to vote Tory, or perhaps more likely for the Brexit Party. At the other end of the country (well England, anyway), are strongly pro-Remain Tory heartlands, such as those constituencies John Harris talks about in this article. Local Council and Euro election results show clearly that the historic bonds to the Tory party are loosening. Will they break completely this time, with a wholesale shift to the LibDems, alongside former Tory now independent MPs? Will the Remain Alliance achieve anything in our creaking, no failing, First Past The Post system, other than larger opposition votes.
Added to this extra dimension of Remain/Leave, is the continuing rejection of the old Westminster parties in Scotland, and perhaps also in Wales, especially South Wales. This is another former Labour heartland now looking like it may finally lose that old bond.
To add to the electoral strata of old tribal loyalties, the Remain/Leave split; and burgeoning nationalism (especially in Scotland), there is a profound distrust in politicians in general. While there has always been a healthy scepticism around politics at all levels, there’s no question that the voting public now view Westminster politics in an extremely poor light.
The Brexit Party in particular has exploited and fanned the flames of this distrust, making best use of the Betrayal Narrative, which I wrote about earlier. It remains to be seen whether Farage will pull back from his threat to field candidates in constituences where they could split the Leave vote. That peerage offer may be simply too tempting for the politician who has failed on seven previous occasions, to make it into Westminster via the electoral route.
It’s no wonder the Betrayal Narrative is working so well as a political strategy, when MPs are generally viewed as self-serving, money-grubbing and completely uninterested in the views or needs of their electorate. I don’t agree with this view – many MPs serve the public – both their constituents and wider civil society, work very hard, sacrifice their home life; and now have to work under a constant barrage of abuse, even physical threats of violence. And it’s not just from the far right, but extremists on all sides. Who would want to be an MP in these circumstances? This, among other factors, is creating a feedback loop, where MPs are selected from within the existing political parties, from within the very small Westminster bubble, and become ever less representative of the wider public.
I am not going to say much more now, other than that I am waiting for the party manifestos and when they are published I will write more blogs, with a particular focus on the various party’s commitments (or aspirations anyway) on the environment, farming, food and housing.
If you’re looking for predictions, forget it. And certainly don’t trust the polls, unless they are at or near constituency level.
And watch the weather, it could play a very significant role in this, the first December election in nearly a century.
photo by: The joy of all things [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D