Will UK Conservatives fail to even form the opposition?

Will UK Conservatives fail to even form the opposition? June 17, 2024

Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak in a Boxing RIng
Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak in a Boxing RIng AI generated image Source: OpenArt

Sunak’s party may slip to third place in the results amidst moral vacuum

For those of you reading this in America, allow me to explain that we do not elect our prime minister directly like your president. Instead we have a series of races for members of parliament which are each first past the post.  This means that we can have some strange results, especially when third and fourth parties gain a higher percentage share of voice.

There was a lot of excitement in the UK at the end of last week because for the first time the Reform party led by “friend of Trump” Nigel Farage overtook the Conservative Party in an opinion poll.  It was just one poll, but it was remarkable nonetheless and with the way Sunak’s Tories have been performing in the electioneering so far it is very possible that their trend towards electoral annihilation will continue.

The Conservatives are losing on their right flank to the Reform Party, they also seem to have given up the centre ground where UK elections are won to the Labour Party, and those who want to rejoin the EU or feel the two main parties are too similar are voting Liberal Democrat.

The Electoral Calculus poll of polls data suggests that the Labour Party will win a huge number of seats and this will leave Sir Keir Starmer as essentially an elected dictator here in the UK able to do more or less whatever he wants as he will easily have the votes to support any bills he wants to introduce.

Poll of polls data Source: Electoral Calculus

As you can immediately see there is a strange nature of our electoral system that means with just 41.4% of the vote Labour would be predicted to win 70% of the 650 seats! This feels a little unfair and would continue the trend in the UK of having a series of governments who do not have support of 50% of the population.  Maybe this is partly why we are so cynical about politics over here. So many of us feel like we have a wasted vote and that is felt even more keenly in the so called “safe seats” where no matter how individuals choose to vote it feels as if we can’t make any difference.  Arguably though in this election as we will see their is no such thing as a safe conservative vote.

The predicted results above is not even the end of the headache for Sunak’s Tories. IF the outlying poll which had the Reform party ahead of them is right then they might even fail to become the official opposition (which is the second largest party) and so not be the party that predominantly holds the government to account.

Here the weirdness really starts as the main beneficiary of the swing away from Tory to Reform would actually be the Liberal Democrats who gain a few more seats from the Tories column and demote them to third place in the number of seats. Thus if this scenario played out,  despite the Liberals being in fourth place on vote share they would be in second place on seat count!

If you look at the BBC’s poll of polls it has an error range behind it and if you assume that the Conservatives and Greens poll at the lower end of their range but Reform, Liberals and Labour poll at the upper end the result is only FIVE Conservative MPs are returned to parliament.

No wonder the Conservative politicians are running scared and have started to talk about the need to avoid a Labour “supermajority” which is a concept we do not even have in this country. And this doesn’t even account fully for tactical voting where voters who would normally vote for a particular party decide that they are more concerned to get the incumbent party out and so lend their votes in a constituency to whoever the polls say is most likely to beat them.

But what does all this have to do with religion which is obviously the subject of this website?

Well first of all we can see that over here the electoral system is not so dominated by religious and social values.  It has been striking how the election TV debates and interviews have not touched moral issues which are so key in the USA elections.

On gender and sexuality issues there is little to choose between the parties. Both parties are agreed that puberty blockers should not be used any more in children who wish to change gender. Both parties talk about the need to maintain biologically female only spaces. Both parties say conversion therapy (which aims to change someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation) should be banned.  Neither party are talking about making any changes to gay rights.

There are no major parties in this election making policy proposals which will significantly alter the UK abortion laws. Even the most right wing party, Reform state that this matter should be left to the conscience of individual members of parliament.  It is true, however, that the majority of those MPS who have previously voted to limit abortion have been from the Conservative Party. So it is possible that on this and euthanasia we may see a significant change in the next parliament. But it will not be one that the UK population have actively voted for, and it is not a subject that influences the voting patterns of religious people in the UK to the same extent as it does in the USA.

Perhaps immigration should be considered a moral issue more than it is.  Many right wing Christians forget that Jesus and his parents were refugees fleeing to Egypt to escape persecution. No wonder Jesus himself urges us to care for the needy including refugees:

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’  (Matthew 25:34-36, NLT)

In the UK we have the Conservative Party who have presided over a large rise in immigration both legal and illegal despite Brexit being punished at the polls by a Labour Party who claim they will reduce immigration and the Reform party who blame immigration or all our troubles as a country.  No party seems to be acknowledging that we hugely need immigrants to work in many sectors which British people are not keen to work in. At least Labour is promising to stop the Conservative’s gimmicky, expensive, and illegal plan to export migrants to Rwanda.

As a whole then it feels like this election is in a bit of a moral vacuum,  apart from the usual claims and counter claims of lying, some of which do seem to stick on the Conservative Party in particular.

But the unspoken question of this election is do we need to reform our political system to some form of proportional representation which would mean that the smaller parties had fairer representation and we would have the typical continental coalition government of compromise between at least two parties.  There is surprisingly little interest in this among the public despite the blatantly unfair nature of the likely results of this election in terms of a mismatch between votes cast and seats won.

 

READ MORE

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Jesus’ Gospel of Social Justice

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About Adrian Warnock
Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor. He worked as a psychiatrist and in the pharmaceutical industry on clinical trials. He has been a Christian writer since 2003 and is a published author. Alongside his career Adrian also served on a church leadership team. He was diagnosed with blood cancer in May 2017 and is the founder of Blood Cancer Uncensored an online patient support group. Adrian is passionate about helping people learn to approach suffering with hope and compassion. Adrian qualified in 1995 with an MB BS medical degree from London University (in the USA this would be called an MD). Adrian also has post graduate qualifications in both Psychiatry (MRCPsych) and Pharmaceutical Medicine (MFFM and DipPharmMed). He studied theology through courses organised by Newfrontiers. You can read more about the author here.
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