Disenfranchised and Disenchanted: Reflections on the UK Local Elections

Disenfranchised and Disenchanted: Reflections on the UK Local Elections May 7, 2021

Things are bleak in the UK. We are in a very desperate situation whereby we are still, after 11 years, being ruled by an incompetent, corrupt right-wing populist party with our own British Trump (the difference being that he can read Classics) fooling the British people with his buffoonery that he is somehow competent in his bumbling idiocy. Yesterday, there were local elections in England, regional Mayoral elections, one by-election for an MP, and regional police commissioner elections. Things didn’t go well.

Brexit has happened. The country has been ripped asunder. And rather than realise the terrible predicament we are faced with, Leavers are blaming the EU for our woes! Still! As if, when leaving their club, the EU is supposed to laden us with gifts and make our lives as easy as possible. It’s all so patently ridiculous.

To add insult to injury, it looks like the United Kingdom will soon no longer be. There is a very great chance that Northern Ireland (who voted to remain in the EU) will reunify with Ireland. Over the sea, Scotland is looking more and more likely to gain its independence. Much depends on whether the SNP – the Scottish National Party – will gain an overall majority in Holyrood, their devolved parliament, in these elections yesterday because this will supposedly give them a mandate to push for another independence referendum.  Okay, so the Prime Minister Boris Johnson can veto this technically, but the writing is on the wall.

What is England’s response to this complete debacle? Yes, that’s right, to continue to vote in local elections for Conservative councillors and, in one by-election, to oust 50 years of Labour rule with a Conservative MP, by not voting for a local doctor Labour candidate in favour of an ex-Cayman Islander parachuted in to presumably stand up for the massive corruption taking place in Westminster.

Our present government, rather like the GOP with the powerful right-wing media in the US, is propped up by a massively biased media. Foreign media is correctly calling our present situation exactly what it is: government “corruption”. At most, our media seem to call it merely “Tory sleaze”. And no one seems remotely bothered. Our Prime Minister gave his previous lover £126,000 worth of taxpayers’ money when he was Mayor of London, and most of the country is, “Ha, I like Boris, he’s both funny and competent!”. And that’s just the tip of the disgraceful iceberg. There is the present scandal of quite who is paying for the massively expensive renovations to the Prime Minister’s accommodation. Quid pro quo law-breaking corruption.

Let’s just get this straight… At the beginning of the pandemic, Boris Johnson (our leader):

(1) Went on a lavish holiday to Mustique that is still being investigated for sleaze.
(2) Then went on taxpayer-funded holiday to a mansion in Chevening, whilst Storm Denis and Covid caused mayhem, not taking either seriously.
(3) This was no doubt to sort out the end of marriage 1, so that they could order £10,000 sofas and £3,000 bedside tables.
(4) Whilst doing this, he sent Dominic Cummings to COBRA meetings to lead the country – a man who he now says is totally untrustworthy – and trusted him to make national decisions.
(5) Pile of bodies scandal.
(6) Lying to the Commons whilst shouting about people who lie to the commons.
(7) Taking gifts from donors without declaring them.
(8​) European Super League – absolutely denigrated it – turns out he had meetings about it beforehand.
(9) James “Brexit UK is great but I’m taking all my manufacturing abroad” Dyson corruption scandal.

So on and so forth.

Apparently, the general public don’t care about this. But part of this is defined by our media.

Politically speaking, it will not, even cannot, get better. We have the first past the post voting system, which is the least democratic form of representative democracy you can get. And with this system, the Tories will simply not be voted out. I say this because of what has happened and will happen in Scotland.

Scotland used to be a safe Labour region. Most of the 56 Scottish MPs would routinely be safe Labour seats. Now that the SNP has completely wiped out Labour in Scotland, they can no longer have that huge tranche of Labour MPs to push them over the line to make a government. Without Scotland, Labour can simply never regain power. Not realistically – it would take a complete landslide. And if Scotland became independent? Even less of a chance.

The further problem is that the left-wing vote is split at least five ways across Britain. You have Labour, LibDem, the Green Party, SNP and Plaid Cymru. All of these split the left-wing vote to the huge advantage of the Conservatives. On the other hand, UK or Reclaim as they are now known, whilst they did split the Tories to a degree, also attracted a huge number of working-class Labour voters. The party has all but disappeared and those voters don’t seem to have switched back to Labour but have switched to the Conservative party. As a result, the “red wall” as it was known – the huge, impenetrable wall of Northern industrial towns and cities that have always voted Labour – are now either swing seats or have been won by the Tories.

The political landscape in the UK is absolutely desperate if you are sitting either in the centre or left of centre. The Tories have drifted dangerously to the right in trying to stop the bleed of support over to UKIP, as was. And they have stayed there. We desperately need a progressive alliance.

To return to the problem the first past the post, take my vote. I vote in the Gosport (and Stubbington) constituency for my MP. There is absolutely no chance that my constituency will ever go to anyone other than the Conservatives. It just won’t. What this means, in a general election, is that my vote is completely wasted. I might as well not get out of bed on election day. There is no proportional representation so my vote won’t go into a pot and be in some way useful, it won’t go towards some kind of national or even local representation of my views. My vote is and conceivably always will be utterly useless. I am electorally impotent. And so is every other non-Conservative voter in my constituency.

I feel, in this supposedly wonderful Western democracy, completely and utterly politically disenfranchised and disenchanted. I hate my government, I think a large portion of the electorate who vote for them are politically illiterate or just downright contradictory and/or hypocritical, and I don’t think things will change going forward. The media is a joke. No one is holding these politicians to account. I even first heard about several aspects of the present government corruption on a bloody panel show, not from the news!

I just wanted not-Tory and would happily have voted for labour, LibDems or Greens.

I said this on Facebook this morning:

I wonder what Labour’s options are. This also needs to be seen in the context of Scotland pretty much never voting Labour in any serious way again. Also in terms of first past the post and the left vote being split multiple ways. It also needs to be seen in terms of massive de-unionisation.

I wonder whether it is worth considering what Biden and the Democrats have been trying to do. I don’t think there is an awful lot of point trying to win back Brexit supporters of a certain age and demographic. They should be setting things up for the future. Much of this is about political motivation and mobilisation of younger generations. Grassroots. Political engagement. Play the long game and try to encourage union membership. They need to properly consider a progressive alliance. And generate a groundswell like we saw in Georgia.

We need a British Stacey Abrams.

I had some interesting responses:

Idea’s for Future Build for future of oppostion. 1) Don’t lurch back to the left. 2) Focus on engaging liberal voters who are economically conservative as well as winning back the grass roots 3) Try to use positive politics. Turning Johnson into a buffonish caricature won’t work. It didn’t work against Trump and it won’t here. 4) Combat the cult of personailty with energy (see Stacy Abrams) 5) Try to be inclusive and not alienate. Like it or not Brexit is done and continually labasting those who voted for it (or the concept itself) will not bring those people back to vote for the oppostion. It will make them lean further towards the Tories despite everything else. 6) Commit to making Brexit work by forging better relations with the EU rather than going with an immediate dream of rejoining. It may happen but not anytime soon and the more it is an issue the more it deflects from everything else the government does. 7) Find some new blood. Contraversial but I really like Kier Starmer, however looking good at PMQ’s is not enough in the internet age and Jeremy Corbyn always had too much baggage. Opposition needs someone with energy who can defeat Johnson at his own game by appealing to people accross the spectrum (but without all the things that come with it)….

Ironically [Starmer] is seen as the establishment figure and does seem to have got on the wrong side of the media. Doesn’t mean he can’t win it back. I would liken him to William Hague when he was in charge of the Tories until 2001. Like it or not (and I don’t) the Prime Minsiter is very popular and it may have been the wrong time for Starmer to take the job. One of the big problems the opposition has at the moment is engagement without scrutiny. Mastery of the 3 word slogan, basing your party on one personality, going on the attack whenever confronted with lying / wrongdoing have all been learned from across the pond and they are here to stay. The only way to combat is with energy and continually engaging people with your policies.

and

Had a discussion about politics on a drive with my son (20yo) yesterday. He says his generation (at least those he talks to in life and online) think parochial and national politics are pointless because it changes nothing. They think globally, they live their lives through the Internet (1st generation to not know what it’s like not to have the Internet) , have friends around the globe. The way he was talking they’d rather not have to ‘go through’ government or political parties but use individual relations.

There was a touch of the assured knowledge of youth, but I found it interesting, and if he’s right then I like that they’re thinking globally. Needless to say he didn’t come into vote with me….

but again it’s the question about how to engage that generation with local issues ?

They don’t even shop really anymore. My boy found out he needed specs so got his prescription and bought from Ray Ban direct, didn’t even bother with seeing what was available locally. Issues like when the bins get collected won’t bother them until they’re in their own places, paying the bills etc.

Sigh. it’s going to be a Sisyphean uphill battle.


Stay in touch! Like A Tippling Philosopher on Facebook:

A Tippling Philosopher

You can also buy me a cuppa. Or buy some of my awesome ATP merchandise! Please… It justifies me continuing to do this!




Browse Our Archives