Monday, May 09, 2005

Election 2005: later reflections

Quite a good result, I'm thinking: despite the attempt to scare people into voting Labour with the threat of the Tories, the electorate as a whole seems to have got more or less what they wanted. One could argue that while Labour won this election, Blair personally has lost it; by all accounts most voters appear to have cast their vote for Labour despite - not because of - the party leader.

The reduced majority means that he will no longer be able to indulge in his favourite pastime, which - one could be forgiven for thinking - was confronting his own party with legislation they find unpalatable. One would hope that Nick Cohen is right in thinking Blair will no longer be able to press ahead with his pet projects - ID cards, the religious incitement legislation and more marketization of public services.

At the same time, one would imagine that those Labour MPs who are left would want to press for a more social democratic agenda.

The result was good up north too: Scotland rejected nationalism, with the SNP being pushed into third place. Scottish parties are often quite amusing on the subject of proportional representation; witness Alec Salmond getting all moist because the SNP gained two seats - neglecting to mention that if we had PR, their representation would have fallen. (Reminds me of the position of the Tories: only devolution and PR - both of which the Tories opposed - has saved them from utter oblivion).

Some are complaining that we only have a Labour government due to Scottish votes.

Yeah well - it worked the other way around for us for 18 years; let's see how you lot like it (not a lot, if early comments are anything to go by).

I'm a bit skeptical about PR (although I supported it for the Scottish Parliament) - but I have to confess, election 2005's figures make a compelling case, what with Labour forming a government on the lowest share of the vote since 1945 and with a huge 63-4% not voting Labour (this last figure being roughly the share of the vote that the average coalition is based on in European systems (all of whom us some form of PR).

Update: The fear factor

From Brownie at Harry's Place

"And if, comrades, in an act of treacherous self-indulgence, you risked all this with a protest vote yesterday, then shame on you."
Risking New Labour's fabulous achievements, he means. Well, I'm sorry but I deeply resented the way you played the fear card: as well as insulting the intelligence of voters who have proved to be more adept at reading the polls than the fear-mongers, we were to ignore Blair riding roughshod over Britain's ancient liberties in exchange for the (not very impressive) achievements of the minimum wage etc. and the only reason we were given for doing so was the fear that this might let the Tories in.

How about instead an acknowledgment that all of you who played this card were very wrong; it turned out to be the Tories who should have been using the "don't vote Lib Dem and let Labour in again" argument.

This notion that New Labour's authoritarianism is obviated by their social-democracy lite is, as I've said before, merely Leninism-lite and that is a paltry, illiberal, and mean-spirited argument to use.

And by the way, assuming that Blair goes, you might want to take the opportunity to drop the sanctimonious tone; most voters, I reckon, are pretty much like me: we don't like being told what to do, we don't like being patronised, and some of us don't need lectures about poverty, having had - one would guess - rather more recent experience of it than "the many" who have been banging away on their keyboards, hectoring us to vote Labour.

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