Friday, 9 June 2017

Something on politics

First, here's my betting slip.

But I'm not going to claim that I had any particular insight before the event. 

Second, preliminary thoughts on the numbers.

(1) May won huge numbers of votes. The Conservatives won over 13.6m votes in total. That compares with Cameron's 11.3m in 2015 and Cameron's 10.7m in 2010. That is a huge number of votes. It's nearly up there with John Major's record 14m in 1992. It's more than Tony Blair's 1997 landslide based on 13.5m votes. It's way more than Blair in 2001 or 2005. That really is a cracking result. That is a lot of individual people ticking the Conservative box. And 1992 is a long time ago: lots of those voters have died. May really has persuaded new people to vote Conservative.

(2) But, like another female politician in an English speaking country who won loads of votes but not much love, winning lots of votes is sometimes not enough. What won mega-majorities for Thatcher and Blair - and a nice little majority for Cameron - is the opposition being weak and/or divided. The Alliance helped in the 1980s. In the 2000s, the Tories knew they were beaten. UKIP, the SNP and the Greens helped Cameron in 2015. 

(3) Corbyn does not know he is beaten, and he has managed to coalesce an anti-Tory vote. UKIP has collapsed. The Greens and the SNP have fallen back hugely. Corbyn also won huge numbers of votes - not far off 13m votes. You could say that Corbyn is a bigger vote-winner that late-stage Blair. A fairer comparison is with Brown's 8.6m or Miliband's 9.3m. That's a lot of people ticking the Labour box.

(4) Corbyn and May are both very good at persuading people to vote for their parties. That is an ambiguous sentences. It's meant to be. They are each, I would suggest, good at persuading people to vote for the other party. Thatcher crushed opposition. Blair disheartened and demoralised it. Cameron charmed his way past it. But both Corbyn and May inspire it. 

(5) That is what my Facebook feed has shown me (i.e. a lot anti-Tory stuff, often quite openly vituperative). That is what my impression of Corbyn tells me (to give a personal opinion, he is a not fit and proper person to be Prime Minister - either Miliband, Yvette Cooper, etc etc pass that test. He does not). There is plenty to fire up the opposition to either main party. But you win majorities by dividing the opposition, not uniting it.

Third, the way forward. I have no views at present on the short term. In the medium term, Corbyn and May have each shown they can't win a majority: both parties would be better off ditching their leaders, and the fact that May has 'lost' and Corbyn 'won' probably helps the Tories here. I think Blair (in his prime) could have beaten May, and Cameron (in his prime) could have beaten Corbyn. The next party to form a proper majority is going to be the one that can persuade its opponents that there is no reason to hate it, in the way that Blair and Cameron managed. 

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