#GE2017 #hungparliament – Democracy or Dog’s Dinner?

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.” ~ Mark Twain

After the shock narrow Brexit vote almost a year ago and the recent election of Donald Trump as U.S. President it was hard to imagine that politics could get any weirder…

However, when I woke up to the news this morning that the UK General Election had resulted in a ‘hung parliament’ I wasn’t in the least bit surprised. I had a feeling in my gut that it would go badly for the Conservatives. After all, how many mistakes will an electorate tolerate?

Before Theresa may so brazenly backtracked on her promise not to hold a snap election her party held 13 more parliamentary seats than it does today. I think this result proves that arrogance and complacency are not the qualities that people value or desire in members of parliament.

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

This was a text book lesson in how to throw away your core supporters and a majority in the Commons, in what should have been  (according the government and the polls), a straightforward election meant to strengthen the PM’s hand in upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Before and during the campaign Theresa May has been chipping away at the nation’s goodwill with bad decision after bad decision. Their proposed ‘hard Brexit’ and some of their policies and her reversal on banning the ivory trade incensed me.

Does she think she can continually say one thing yet do another? Such hypocrisy is prevalent in politics, I’m not naïve enough to think she’s the first politician to be guilty of that, but power always manages to corrupt on some level except for an extraordinary few leaders.

I find myself agreeing with Tim Fallon that our prime minister put her party above her country. How can we possibly believe her claims to lead with certainty when she has achieved the very opposite?

The Conservative election campaign ignited rage among the elderly, frustration in the Remain camp, and did not engage or provide any form of positive policies to the population. The cuts to our police were thrown back into the limelight after the horrendous terror attacks in Manchester and London, and I think many people felt angry. I know I did. I voted through gritted teeth.

In comparison, the far left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, (previously unpopular within his own party) and the definite political underdog, managed to run an effective election campaign and gain the support of young voters. Probably many who didn’t vote in the EU Referendum have made their voices heard this time, as it appears that there was a 72% turnout in the 18 – 24 age group, an increase of 30% from 2015. This is all very encouraging, as we need fresh blood and fresh ideas in politics.

The Tories didn’t appear to be bothered about the youth vote and alienated the elderly voters with their disastrous proposals for social care. Cuts to school budgets have also rankled with parents.

The fact that Theresa May did not participate in the election debate also damaged her credibility. Trust comes from openness, and May has been mostly tight lipped, sending Amber Rudd in her stead, thereby further demonstrating her lack of charisma and leadership skills.

The seismic shift in losing the ultra safe Conservative seats of Canterbury and Kensington to Labour shows just how badly the government have misjudged the public mood. You cannot gamble with power, especially when you are portrayed and perceived as the ‘nasty party’.

It’s clear that the majority of the population do not wish to see a ‘hard Brexit’, meaning a complete withdrawal from the single market, and now May’s original negotiating position is going to be very difficult. There is unprecedented uncertainty facing the nation since Article 50 was triggered, and that has only been exacerbated.

Politics without principle as cited in Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Seven Social Sins’ is profoundly prophetic in this messy election result.  It’s worth sharing all seven:

Why is it we can’t seem to find the happy medium in a more centrist party that has sound economic policies, but just as importantly, moral backbone and a social conscience?

As some commentators have said, it feels like the ‘revenge of the Remainers’ today.

“An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.” ~ Mark Twain

This quote is perhaps true of Jeremy Corbyn today. I may not agree with some of his views, but he did come across as a decent bloke.

It felt like all Theresa May wanted to do was ram a hard Brexit and ill thought out social care policies down our throats. Despite losing 13 parliamentary seats she is still in power by the skin of her teeth and only with the help of the far right DUP in Northern Ireland.

Whatever the PM’s intentions with the election campaign, the abysmal execution has been the deciding factor in the hung parliament result.

Have political campaigns lost their drama?

Who could have predicted that Labour would win an additional 32 seats?  It turns out the exit poll wasn’t that far off the mark…

I fail to see how Theresa May can still be our prime minister at the end of the next general election. And the way things are going that may be sooner rather than later…

The FT post election analysis:

So I return to my original question, do we have a true democracy or a something resembling a dog’s dinner? It certainly feels like the latter after Brexit and the shambles of a poor election campaign on the part of the majority party. But maybe the system needs a dog’s dinner now and then to shake things up and sort out the wheat from the chaff. Maybe it has to be both to be effective. A true democracy can survive a dog’s dinner and learn the lessons of each successive vote.

If it takes humiliation for a leader to become more humble and in-tune with the public sentiment rather than coming across as uncaring, implacable, blinkered and hypocritical then so be it.  Contempt for the electorate when you take them for granted is rewarded in kind with contempt at the ballot boxes.

I rather feel Ruth Davidson, the Conservative MSP who has galvanised the younger voters north of the border may have just single handedly saved the union from a second, more fervent and fierce Indy ref.  In this topsy-turvy election the SNP lost a third of its seats, including that of former SNP leader Alex Salmond.

Having suffered such a humiliating defeat the PM’s speech outside number 10 made no reference to the resounding views of British voters, brushing over the whole debacle as if it had never happened!

It seems I’m not the only one who thinks this was outrageous hubris. Author Robert Harris tweeted: No hint of apology or regret in PM’s statement. No humility. Full North Korean mode. She won’t last long

One thing is for sure, we have many challenges ahead of us and as we have born witness to today, things can change very rapidly in politics!

Regardless of the balance of power we all have a responsibility to look after ourselves and others as best we can, because as collective individuals we make up society. As one of the most inspirational human beings and spiritual leader’s the world has ever known, Mahatma Gandhi stated: “Our greatest ability as humans is not to change the world; but to change ourselves.”

“The government is merely a servant―merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.” ~ Mark Twain.

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