The vote went for Brexit. The hounds of chaos have been unleashed. Is this a harbinger of a Trump victory in November? Political trends in the US have first shown in the UK before, with Margaret Thatcher predating Ronald Reagan and Tony Blair arriving before Bill Clinton. More importantly, the polls were as wrong on Brexit as they were on Cameron’s big win in the last Parliamentary elections. Is this a sign?
The short answer is “Yes”, but the long answer is “No”. This has a long way to play out before the US votes, and we don’t yet know what will happen. There will be a lot more anarchy in the UK and the final lesson is far from written.
Jo Cox, MP, was killed today in Birstall, West Yorkshire. She was leaving a “surgery”, the British term for what we in the US call a “town hall”. The attacker was reported to have shouted, “Put Britain first!” a reference to the referendum in one week on whether the UK should leave the European Union (EU).
If you were thinking the whole world has gone mad, you are right.
While we in the US are shaken by a horrific attack on ordinary citizens, the UK now has to contemplate political violence – something it has not seen since the end of the IRA’s campaign in 1990. There is no comparison between terror inflicted on the public and on the political system, as each is horrible in its own way. But we can reasonable expect there will be more of each until something dramatic happens.
The election in the UK produced a surprising result – one not even remotely called by all the polls taken right up to polling day, 7 May. How could they miss it? It’s always possible that the polls were simply wrong, but it’s more likely that something changed deep in the guts of the electorate as they went in to vote. Is Britain really that conservative? No, people probably don’t like PM Cameron any more now than they did before. Can we learn something from this?
Perhaps we can. But we might be able to learn more from the provincial election in Alberta that produced a surprising win for the very left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) in a conservative stronghold. This huge shift came on like an Alberta Clipper off the North Pole, but it was caught by pollsters just before the election. And both of these recent election may apply because, as we noted before, the developed world is suffering from the same chill everywhere – buffeted by change, voters are demanding stability and strong new leadership.
The election is coming up, and boy is it getting crazy. Not the US election – there’s still a year and a half of nonsense to endure before that. I’m talking about the UK House of Commons election on 7 May. It will certainly test the limits of their parliamentary system, probably moving it into a more funkadelic system in the process.
I had to, I love that joke. Somebody’s gotta bring da funk.
The problem is the UK is more divided along fundamental lines than it has been in a very long time. Given the large number of parties that are likely to achieve seats (12) the election will almost certainly solve nothing, only marking the start of tortured negotiations that will last for three weeks. They’d like to have a government by the annual Queen’s Speech on 27 May, so there is a deadline, but it will be hard to meet.
It’s worth watching in the US if for no other reason than the turmoil they are experiencing is similar to ours, expressed very differently in a different system.