Thursday, May 05, 2005

British election results: “I hope in my heart that one day the prime minister may be able to say sorry”

I’m sorry I forgot to post a prediction about the British election results, since it would have been pretty accurate; you’ll just have to take my word for it. Labour won what would be a landslide in most countries, but is such a drop from its previous two election victories that it looks very much like a defeat, and might well have been an actual defeat if there had been a credible alternative, if anyone could have imagined either the Tories or the LibDems in power without, respectively, cringing or laughing. The last 3 or 4 years were the time for a push by the LibDems to displace the Tories as the primary opposition party, as they already are in some parts of the country, but there was no such push, and the electoral system is stacked against them, so that even in seats where they increased their vote, they mostly succeeded in cutting into Labour majorities and handing those seats to Tories.

The Tories ran quite a few gay candidates (although not, as far as I know, any lesbians, but don’t quote me on that), evidently without scaring the blue-haired old ladies or upsetting the horses. Really, it was a non-issue. I’m not sure yet how many were run in seats where they had a chance of winning (although to be fair, first-time candidates are not usually given safe seats but are expected to be seasoned by losing their first race), or how many did win; I’ll try to update when all the results are in (or someone could drop me an email, hint hint). They also ran more ethnic minorities than usual, and Adam Afriyie won in Windsor, the first ever black Tory MP. However Labour’s Oona King, who is black, a woman, and Jewish, was defeated by George Galloway of the Respect party, who is fiercely anti-war, the most left-wing member of the new Parliament, but absolutely not someone we want on our side.

In his remarkably glum victory speech, Blair admitted that the country wanted the result it got, for Labour to win but with a much reduced majority (which is a way of saying that those who switched their votes to the LibDems didn’t really mean it, which is true, but he shouldn’t be the one to say it). Another way of saying that is that voters wanted to send Blair a message not to govern so far to the right of the party of which he is supposed to be the leader.

I predict that Blair will be replaced as party leader and prime minister not less than a year but not more than two years from now; the only question is whether he’ll jump or be pushed. In his own constituency of Sedgefield, 14 people ran against him, and he had to stand there with all of them as the results were read out, including the Monster Raving Loony Party candidate and the former topless model whose real name is probably not Cherri Blairout Gilham — that’s her in the hat Tony is trying so hard not to look at....

and a man named Reg Keys, who scored an astonishing 10% of the vote on an anti-war platform, after his 20-year old son, a soldier, was killed in Iraq. After the count, he gave a speech and Tony had to stand there listening. Here’s the bit I heard, before the BBC got bored and switched away: “If this war had been justified by international law I would have grieved and not campaigned. If weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq — again I would have grieved, not campaigned. ... I hope in my heart that one day the prime minister may be able to say sorry.”

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