As we promised way back on Friday (yes, dear reader, we have been sick, yes, again, and, yes, we are as tired of it as you), we would like to take a moment to discuss last week’s General Election in the U.K.
Since we then dealt with what is apparently a subject of very little interest—Northern Ireland—having to do with that election on Friday, we now turn our American gaze to the rest of the Sceptre’d Isle.
First, the numbers. Labour ended up on 35.2% of the vote, winning 356 seats, a loss of 47 seats. The Conservatives gathered in 32.3% of the vote, winning only 196, a gain of 33 seats. The Liberal Democrat vote apparently reveals that a full 22% of the British electorate has officially gone insane; these nutters will have 62 seats in the new Parliament, a gain of 11 seats. Other parties, including those in N.I. discussed below, won 10.5% of the vote, with the following results: DUP, 9 seats; SNP, 6 seats, SF/IRA 5 seats (that won’t be filled, per usual); PC, 3 seats; SDLP, 3 seats; UUP, 1 seat (we still can’t believe this) and—wait for it—the Independent Kidderminster Health and Hospital Party; 1 seat. 2 other seats are listed as “other, “ which, given the fact that the IKHH is listed, must mean completely non-party independents.
The General Election thus saw a third consecutive victory for PM Blair, despite a swing nation-wide towards the Conservatives of 3%. In the immediate aftermath, Conservative leader Michael Howard resigned as party leader, LibDem leader Kennedy (wow, there is a coincidence for you!) crowed, per usual, that his party’s time has finally come, and various others slumped in resignation at 5 more years of the same.
So much for the numbers and the raw facts, but what do they mean? If one were to believe the MSM these numbers “humbled” Blair, apparently because no other Labour leader in the long history of that august party has ever—ever—lead it to three consecutive victories. Hang your head, Tony!
Per usual, the MSM missed the story right in front of their eyes. Fortunately, William Kristol did not:Blair won with a diminished majority, to be sure. Yet the main opposition party, the Tories, supported the war as well. So roughly 68 percent of the British electorate voted for parties with pro-war leaders. The Liberal Democrats, critics of the war who pledged a quick withdrawal from Iraq, did increase their vote by about 4 percentage points, but still received only 22 percent of the vote.The electorates of the major democracies--at least the English-speaking ones--have thus shown a willingness to support the leaders who took them to war. This despite the fact that no operational weapons of mass destruction were found, and despite the difficulties of the last couple of years in Iraq. In the cases of Howard and Bush, the victories were particularly impressive since they preceded the remarkable January 30 elections in Iraq and subsequent positive political developments there and elsewhere in the Middle East.
In other words, the Left’s main fantasy of the post-Iraq War era—that the leaders who went to war there would be replaced and in a hurry—turned out to be as wrong, just like the rest of their predictions. Instead, the British electorate, like the Aussies and the Americans before them, voted to stay the course.
This is not to say that there is no unhappiness in Britain regarding the war. On the contrary, the war is incredibly unpopular there. This has become so orthodox a view, one despairs for the state of political debate there.
However, we disagree with Kristol when he says that the Tories supported the war. As any observer of the election must concede, Howard ran an anti-war campaign that used code words, like “liar,” to impugn the motives of those who lead the Coalition to war.
In fact, one of the remarkable things about this election is how it cemented the divorce between the Conservatives and the Republican Party. Every time the Conservative leader declared the PM a liar on the issue of Iraq, he was also, of course, calling the President a liar by extension. Don’t think we haven’t noticed over here.
Some Conservative MPs and supporters have recently took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to assure American readers that their party remains committed to strong ties between the two main conservative parties of what Churchill would have called the English-Speaking Peoples. These pleas didn’t do much good. The Conservative Party’s delegation to the RNC got the cold shoulder and Howard was the only Conservative leader in modern memory not to visit the White House.
We suspect that Labour has now forgotten what is was like to be in the political wilderness so thoroughly now that it will fool itself into thinking it can dump the Blairite mask and return to its neo-socialist roots. If for only this reason alone, we find the reports of the Conservative Party’s death to be both premature and exaggerated.
In the long run, the sundering of relations between the Republicans and the Conservatives will prove to be of great import. While we sit on the sidelines cheering the creation of the European Union, and while the Conservatives go on issuing foreign affairs manifestos that mention neither the words “United” or “States”, the two sides will keep fiddling while one of the last remaining bulwarks of liberty in the free world literally commits suicide.
If ever there was time for bold leadership on this issue, on the need for renewing and strengthening the Special Relationship, it is now. Sadly, given the Conservative track record of the past 10 years, we find very little to hope for in the near future. The list of front-runners for the post are modern-era Conservatism non-entities, each more non-electable than the next.
Until and unless the Conservative Party finds its voice, the United States should continue its current policy of working on common ground whenever possible with the Labour Party. Unlike many other commentators, we don’t expect a PM Brown to radically change policies from a PM Blair.
It’s a sad reality that we have to work with the best we can find in an openly socialist party in the land where liberty was literally born.