Friday, 8 May 2015

Pessimus Prime Election Special

Well, that was awful.  Uniformly so.  It's hard to pick out even the slightest nuggets of good news from the torrential downpour of  blood and shit cascading from the ballot box like the elevator scene from The Shining as remade by Kevin Smith. Well, maybe for Scotland -  who I can't imagine will still be in the union come the next general - but for the rest of us, I've got nothing. The Tory majority is horrific in itself, of course, but it also means that public conversations on the need for proportional representation are likely to fade now we no longer look locked in to an era of minority governments.  The fact that there will be more female MPs this time around (just) is at least nice, but given the undercrackers of the BBC's election coverage were packed with more pale dick than a Herman Melville novel, it's not like the gender gap took much of a beating last night either. And whilst I can't claim to be totally free of schadenfreude regarding how dearly Clegg's party has paid for cosying up to The Enemy, when their replacements in third place are so viciously unbearable, it's far more schaden than it is freude

(It must be a bemusing time to be a Liberal Democrat, though. So hated for propping up an unpopular government they've been kicked out so that government can entrench itself? That's like deciding the food in your restaurant is so bad you'll fire the waiters so you have more money to pay the head chef.)

This, in fact, is the result I expected following any hypothetical election following on the heels of the last one. I was always convinced that should the Lib Dems trigger a new election, the result would be a heavy swing to the Conservatives simply so the damn thing would be over (I saw a similar effect when Scott Walker run his recall election as governor of Wisconsin; people seemed to want to not have to keep running back to the polls more than they wanted to vote for who they wanted in charge).  So you could say this partially vindicates Clegg, insofar as had he been less accommodating we'd just be in this mess five years earlier. Of course, what's ended up happening is that the Tories have spent five years gearing up for sweeping change and now have five years to roll the boulders down the mountains. But if Clegg hoped what he did could have avoided this result, well, that's understandable.

Understandable but still wrong, of course. And as much as Clegg is surely wearing a frown today creased deeper than the chasm his party's seat-count just got thrown into, it isn't him who's going to pay the price for his mistake. The right people never do.  Every person who grumbles that democracies get the governments they deserve seems to forget that the people who deserve what the Tories will do are not the people who the Tories will do it to. It's no good saying a man who buys a flamethrower deserves to have his house burn down if it's his neighbour who ends up homeless.

A lot of neighbours are going to end up homeless over the next five years. Homeless, or hungry, or cut off from society, or filled with such unbearable despair they conclude suicide is their only way out. Yesterday the country decided that our neighbours are no longer our problem. "Do as thou canst afford" shall be the whole of the law.

We have 1827 days to live through. That will be too many for some. Keep your people close to you. Keep them safe.

Fuck Russell Brand.


Tomsk said...

Good news nuggets!

George Galloway out, hopefully for good

Esther McVey out

David Laws out (good for the future of the Lib Dems, assuming they have one)

Farage failed to get in

UKIP missed all their target seats

SpaceSquid said...

It's a good try. Misery 3% lessened.

Tomsk said...

Plus a straw to clutch: the last time the Tories got in with such a slim majority, they tore themselves apart over Europe within two years. This time Cameron's even been kind enough to name the date.

Of course they may destroy the country as a side effect, but, y'know, never mind.

Dan said...

Could be worse. If you guys had proportional representation you would have ended up with a Conservative + UKIP coalition. That's got to be worth an additional 1%.

SpaceSquid said...

I have mixed feelings on that one. If PR had been in place for the last four years the voting patterns would have been very different; you can't just take what happened on Thursday and transform them. It seems to me inarguable for instance that the left's vote would have been stronger because it would have felt less like what it was last week: utterly pissed away.

Still, Tomsk argues there would have been more UKIP votes too, for a similar reason, and I take the point. Whether it would be worth some UKIP MPs if it gained us some genuine leftist voices in Westminster is something I've been wondering about for a while now.

Tomsk said...

As a firm advocate of PR, the thought that the vote would have led to a Tory/UKIP coalition just fills me with more despair.

Having pondered it a bit more, though, there would be competing influences on the UKIP vote share. For example, Labour could squeeze them in the North by scaring people about a Tory/UKIP coalition, just as the Tories so effectively scared voters in English marginals about the SNP. It's amazing how many voters don't recognise that UKIP are more right wing than the Tories, but the prospect of government would concentrate minds.

On the other hand, if there's one thing I've learnt over the past week it's that predicting any election is a mug's game, let alone one under a hypothetical voting system.