Out of my mind: An earthquake

When Theresa May called the election on April 18, all experts predicted a landslide majority.

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published:June 11, 2017 2:47 am
2010 elections, 2010 UK elections, EU, Theresa May, brexit, Conservatives, Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, indian express, opinion Theresa May

The UK has just delivered an earthquake in the election. The 2010 election produced no single party majority and we had a coalition for the first time since the War. Then in June last year, we had the Referendum on remaining or quitting the EU. The Exiters won against all expectation. In 2015, Cameron won a very small majority. This time around, the election has delivered a total shock. No party has a majority.

When Theresa May called the election on April 18, all experts predicted a landslide majority. Her logic was transparent. The government had a small majority, about a dozen. While the majority of MPs on both sides were Remainers, a small number of Conservatives were strong Brexiteers. They could make May’s life hell if she did not go for a hard Brexit. So she wanted that large majority. When she called the election three years early than she needed to, she took an enormous gamble. The 2015 Parliament was one of the shortest.

For the Labour Party, people were moaning that it had chosen Jeremy Corbyn, a highly idealistic, extreme Left ( 1970’s style) leader.

Many were hoping that the party would be soundly defeated, losing about hundred seats and then Corbyn could be got rid of. Theresa May also thought that all she had to say was that she promises a strong and stable government while the alternative to her would be a ‘coalition of chaos’. She personalised the campaign, kept all other Conservative leaders out and monopolised the policy.

The results are for a hung parliament. The Conservatives won 318 seats, 8 short of majority and 12 fewer than they had. Labour gets 261 , 29 more than it had, more than it had in 2015. Jeremy Corbyn has got more seats than Gordon Brown had in 2010. This defied all expectation.

The opinion polls predicted a lead of 20 per cent for May. Through the campaign, the lead stayed positive but then slipped. What made the difference was the campaign. By a happy accident, someone leaked the manifesto of the Labour party. This allowed a lot of public discussion on what the Labour party was offering. Instead of just talking of Brexit, a very radical programme was presented.

Unfashionable policies such as re-nationalisation of railways and of post office were proposed. A higher income tax on the top 5 per cent was promised. More spending on health and education. The hostile news media denounced the manifesto but that is hardly new for Labour. But, at least the manifesto was discussed. People noticed that it was different.

The Conservative manifesto by contrast was a disaster. There is a big problem of providing for social care for the elderly. The proposal was that people who have assets — a house — will be provided the care free while they are alive. But after their death, the State will collect the money spent on their care from the value of their estate except for a floor of £100,000. The Tories are not supposed to be hard on the propertied classes. The proposal was quickly withdrawn.

Corbyn has done well as a maverick from the Left. UK has a hung parliament where May will form a minority government. But nothing will last more than six months. Then another election, another government?

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  1. A
    Jun 12, 2017 at 1:02 am
    Not one of Desai's good nes, just collecting the fees on thisone, which is a shame because zi think he had much to offer.
  2. D
    Jun 11, 2017 at 7:11 pm
    The Labour party manifesto was published. The ideas of the party and its main guidelines were clear. I just think that people want a left party that proposes a socialist agenda. Monsters like the Blairite New Labour or the "left" incarnated by the Clinton's are basically right wing politicians passing to be left wing. Proper, decent socialism is not dead. In this day of age, where the gap between the poor and the rich is widening on a daily basis, protection for the many, fair treatment for the many, proper taxation of and for all, wealth redistribution, equal opportunity shouldn't be shunted but embraced
  3. E
    Employ Ment
    Jun 11, 2017 at 5:08 pm
    💲💲मुफ्त रोजगार योजना💲💲 ✔मोदी जी द्वारा चलाए गए डिजिटल इन्डिया से जुड़े और कमाए हर महीने 15,000 - 50,000 रुपए ✔अब कोई नही रहेगा बेरोज़गार और नही करेगा कोई बेरोज़गार आत्महत्या ✔क्योंकि अब आ गई है 21वीं सदी की सबसे बड़ी रोज़गार क्रांति ✔हमारा सपना पूरे भारत को ही नही पूरी दुनिया को डिजिटल इंडिया से जोड़ना 💲सबका साथ सबका विकास💲 ➡शुरुवात कैसे करे ✔C.h.a.m.p`C.a.s.h को प्ले स्टोर से इन्स्टल करे, और साइन अप करे, $1 डॉलर बोनस स्पौन्सर ID: 6140686 ➡चैलेंज को पूरा करे ➡और इंकम करनी शुरू करे 👇🏻इसे जरूर नोट कर ले👇🏻 स्पौन्सर ID: 6140686 ........................ Hvdghduhdggdixj
  4. G
    Gopalkrishnan Nair
    Jun 11, 2017 at 2:26 pm
    I mean to ask, what this guy is doing in India.
  5. G
    Gopalkrishnan Nair
    Jun 11, 2017 at 2:25 pm
    But this guy is doing in India.
  6. H
    Jun 11, 2017 at 2:16 pm
    It is really bad to conduct election within a six-months, it is better to try EVM. I think it is cheap and reliable instead of conducting election just for the sake of democracy.
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