What next for UK politics?

Oh boy, there is a never dull day in British politics!

It is very true that a week in politics can be actually quite long and eventful. The dust hasn’t settled yet and so much has already happened since last week’s elections. It was incredibly interesting to see how people across the country voted last week and how the election result might impact the future of the UK.

I am not a famous political strategist, however it is true that the political landscape in the UK is changing, that’s for sure. The “Red Wall” collapsed. The by-elections in Hartlepool showed that the Labour Party can’t automatically count on votes from the working class people. Would it be fair to say that it is now the middle-class in bigger cities, which “saved” the Labour Party from a total disaster (London, Liverpool, Manchester). Is it also true that the Labour Party has lost its “political identity”?

The Conservative Party did well, however the Welsh Assembly elections and the elections to the Scottish Parliament clearly demonstrate that their influence in devolved nations is diminishing quickly. They might have a huge majority in the Houses of Parliament, they might have taken control of several Local Authorities e.g. Harlow, however it is also true that smaller parties e.g. Greens and Liberal Democrats did quite well, too. I am delighted that my neighbouring St. Albans District Council is now run by the Liberal Democrats.

The Scottish story is truly fascinating! The Scottish people have spoken, again! The referendum on the Scottish independence will have to take place. It is not if, it is when said the Scottish Prime Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. So many parallels can be drawn; Boris Johnson spoke many times, while campaigning for the UK to leave the EU, about “taking back control”. Could the same scenario be applied to Scotland and its democratic right to choose their own path? The simple answer is yes. However, if Scotland was to leave the UK, I wonder what would happen with the currency or whether a hard border would have to be erected if Scotland was to join the EU?

What about the Queens Speech? Some of the proposed legislation is rather questionable: Dissolution and calling of Parliament Bill or Planning Bill are only a few examples, which many people might find worrying.

Is there anything that I am particularly disappointed with this week? Yep, his name is David Cameron! It is so morally wrong to use COVID to lobby UK government. Former Prime Minister’s text messages (47 attempts in total!) were made public this week. Mr Cameron appeared today in front of the Select Committee. It is really beyond me that anyone would use high profile connections to influence government contracts. Moreover, it is unacceptable for anyone to abuse a privileged position. There is absolutely no moral and political accountability and this is also why so many of us feel disconnected with the political process. It does feel at times that “being at the top means being above the law”.

In spite all of this, I find democracy a truly fascinating subject. As I said many times, we all ought to take an active interest in politics as every single vote can directly impact on our lives. Furthermore, we should always try to put the “political education” at the heart of our civic activism. It is quite important to understand the process first in order to make an informed decision. The journey continues and we must all do our best to stay on track, keep “dialoguing and listening” to each other even if our views and vision for politics are different.

* Michal Siewniak is a Lib Dem activist and former councillor

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14 Comments

  • The themes for the next election are being set-levelling up and keep Brexit done. These will be the Conservative message in the red wall that will be a massive slugging match between Conservative,Labour and ReformUK[if they are still going by then].Massive amounts of money and resources will be poured in by these parties.Labour will be dragged to the populist right and the Conservatives will increasingly take the south for granted. That’s where LibDem and Green party come in.

  • Steve Trevethan 14th May '21 - 7:45pm

    Might the influence power of the Main Stream Media, not least the BBC, be a factor in the next election?
    How genuinely democratic is our governance?
    Does party wealth affect results?

  • Ms Sturgeon is not the Scottish Prime Minister.

  • George Thomas 14th May '21 - 9:27pm

    “The Conservative Party did well, however the Welsh Assembly elections and the elections to the Scottish Parliament clearly demonstrate that their influence in devolved nations is diminishing quickly.”

    i) It’s not called the Welsh Assembly. It’s the Senedd Cymru (or Welsh Parliament).

    ii) Would need to check my stats but believe the Welsh Tories absorbed much of UKIP’s support from previous election and won 5 more seats than last time – believe their (incredibly unimpressive) leader described it as their best ever result. They could have been 2 constituency seats down in west Wales if Lib Dems and Labour had come to an agreement; they won the majority of their seats along the English border and in north Wales.

    iii) At the same time Plaid Cymru won 1 more seat than last time and Labour equaled highest number of seats ever won (also absorbing some of the UKIP support – the big difference between Wales and north of England) in the 22 years of the Senedd.

    iv) Lib Dems limped home with 1 list seat. Less than a week after the election their was voiced concern that cultural event covid pilots were ignoring the north of Wales – someone is going to capitalise on that feeling….

    v) Tories didn’t win any police crime commissioner roles but this area of politics isn’t devolved yet to Wales Priti Patel changed voting system so that’s unlikely to happen again. Incredible that you can have an 81 seat majority and still see areas where you need electoral system to favour your party even more.

    “The Scottish story is truly fascinating! ”

    If only there was a clue why Scotland was seemingly willing to risk it all….”Yep, his name is David Cameron,” and her name is Priti Patel building on Theresa May and Tony Blair’s hostile response to immigration. Despite that it’s going to be an incredibly rough ride if Scotland does go down independence route.

    “In spite all of this, I find democracy a truly fascinating subject.” Agreed.

  • Richard Easter 15th May '21 - 8:16am

    The division is age more than class – and class is hard to define now.

    We can go on about “the working class all vote Tory”, but in reality it is older working class voters drawn to them. There seems to be a bit of a Green surge, and this is happening in working class areas as much as more middle class ones. The difference being that older voters are more likely to vote, and a lot of working class jobs at the younger end are often done by migrants who do not get to vote (at least in General Elections).

    I am fairly sure the reason we are seeing Labour / Green incursion into the South more and more is precisely due to housing, transport and cost of living. Many people in the South East (pre pandemic) commuted towards London for work, rather than work locally, and there are pockets of deprivation such as in the Medway towns, Slough, Hastings and inner city areas of Portsmouth and Southampton.

    As for the West Country, Bristol, Bath and Exeter aside – there is the problem of both very high house prices, very low wages and not a lot of work.

    In the same way Tory incursions in the north are due to things like help to buy on new builds – particularly amongst those who commute to work by car and live right out in these new build estates near motorways. Essentially you are creating a commuter middle class not so reliant on public services – it’s almost like creating the conditions of Milton Keynes up north, whilst recreating the conditions of a very expensive property wise version of Bradford down south.

  • Peter Martin 15th May '21 - 9:19am

    @ David Raw,

    “Ms Sturgeon is not the Scottish Prime Minister”

    Not at the moment!

    But, it does seem rather pedantic to pick up someone, especially if their first language is not English, for using the a near synonym to “First”.

  • Peter Martin 15th May '21 - 9:42am

    ‘We can go on about “the working class all vote Tory”.’

    They don’t.

    If anything we can say the working class, especially the younger generation, generally don’t vote at all. They don’t see the point.

    57% of the electorate in Hartlepool, last week, couldn’t find a single candidate, out of the 16 on offer, that they considered worth bothering to vote for. The pro-Starmer Labour candidate polled nearly 8,000 fewer votes than in the 2019 general election.

    Sure, there will always be a level of working class Tory support. But they’ll only win the rest of the working class are less than enthusiastic about Labour policy.

    Under Jeremy Corbyn, in 2017, Labour polled nearly 22,000 votes. They’ve lost more than 13,000 of them since. Most aren’t voting Tory. Their vote, even with the collapse of UKIP and the Brexit Party, has increased by just over a 1,000.

  • @ Peter Martin I bow to your expertise in pedantry, Mr Martin, especially of the lengthy variety. To avoid any doubt, I always find Mr Siewniak’s English exemplary and his comments interesting. To suggest anything less could be construed as patronising.

    As to Ms Sturgeon, I’m sure she would make a better fist of the job than the present Prime Minister.

  • Matt Wardman 15th May '21 - 3:41pm

    Looking in detail at some local election results, I find the potential impact of Lib Dem – Green informal local pacts on the margins of Toryland to be quite interesting.

  • Matt Wardman 15th May '21 - 3:45pm

    Especially where they have already happened.

  • Andrew Tampion 16th May '21 - 7:18am

    “The Conservative Party did well, however the Welsh Assembly elections and the elections to the Scottish Parliament clearly demonstrate that their influence in devolved nations is diminishing quickly.”
    Is this really true or just wishful thinking?
    In Scotland the Conservatives were second with no loss of seats and nearly as many seats as the other three opposition parties combined.
    In Wales the Conservatives were also second with a nett gain of 5 seats and more seats than the other opposition parties combined.
    Although not technically a devovled assembly the story is similar in London where the Conservatives are again second with 9 seats a nett gain of 1 and only 2 behind Labour, who lost a seat. This time they have nearly twice as many seats as the other opposition parties combined.
    When you compare the Conservative and Liberal Democrat performance it is clear which party is really on the ropes.

  • Antony Watts 17th May '21 - 9:50am

    Still seems all analysis is about divisiveness. Glimmer of hope for Lib-Green-… entry and revolt against dominant neo-liberalism/individualism has started.

    About time too.

  • Peter Martin 17th May '21 - 11:27am

    There is obviously a place for a centrist party if it is genuinely centrist on the economic as well as the social axis. That means support for a mixed economy rather than the privatised hotch potch we have at the moment where we often pay our electricity bills to the gas company or even an intermediary who take their cut for no value added at all.

    If you want to make a start on condemning neoliberalism you could take a look at the claim that Labour crashed the economy in 2008. They didn’t. That happened in the USA and spread out globally. They haven’t even made a very good job themselves of defending their own reputation. But if you’re looking for something like the truth it is worth getting it right. The Labour Party do bear some of the responsibility for not foreseeing the danger but they aren’t alone in that. In the two years after the 2008 crash they mainly did the right thing by re-stimulating the economy with mixture of extra spending and tax cuts.

    The coalition then got it all wrong by reversing the previous policy and going for an anti inflation austerity package, when inflation and an overheating economy was the least of our economic problems.

  • Peter Hirst 25th May '21 - 2:59pm

    Political education will be much easier when we have a democracy that is fairer, more honest and accountable than the one we have at present. Learning about failed democracies such as our does nothing for our soul and the joy of learning. When students can find sufficient material for an essay on the merits of our system rather than its weaknesses we will finally have a democracy to be proud of.

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