Conservatives Score Historic Win In British Elections

Boris Johnson and the British Conservative Party scored a huge win in yesterday's General Election, while Labour walked away with its biggest defeat in a generation.

After an election campaign during which the central question became the relationship between the United Kingdom and rest of Europe, and most specifically the future of Brexit, Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party have scored a win that rivals those of the elections that occurred during the Thatcher Era:

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a sweeping, decisive and powerful majority of parliamentary seats — and a mandate to deliver Brexit — in Thursday’s general election.

Ballots tallied through the night affirmed that Johnson and his Conservative Party had achieved a smashing success, the largest win for the Tories since the days of Margaret Thatcher — while the opposition Labour Party and its hard-left leader, Jeremy Corbyn, suffered their worst defeat in four decades.

Friday morning, with one constituency still to declare, the Conservatives had won 364 spots in the 650-seat Parliament.

“Getting Brexit done is now the irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people,” Johnson said, standing in front of a backdrop that proclaimed “the People’s Government.”

“With this election, I think we’ve now put an end to all those miserable threats of a second referendum,” Johnson said.

Corbyn, after winning in his own Islington constituency, announced he would not lead his party in any future general-election campaign but that he intended to stay on as leader during a period of reflection

“This is obviously a very disappointing night for the Labour Party,” he said.

He defended the popularity’s of the party’s platform, which sought to “right the wrongs and the injustices and inequalities that exist in this country.” And he attributed the party’s losses to the notion that “Brexit has so polarized and divided debate within this country, it has overridden so much of a normal political debate.”

Johnson — the bombastic showman who led the campaign to leave the European Union in the June 2016 referendum — is now positioned to be the prime minister to see Britain set sail from Europe next month.

And dreams of a second referendum — of remaining in the E.U. — have been dashed.

The pound sterling surged in after-hours trading when voting ended and the national exit poll showed the Conservatives forecast to win 368 out of 650 seats.

President Trump, who made little effort to hide his partiality toward Johnson during the election, tweeted his congratulations: “Britain and the United States will now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after BREXIT. This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the E.U. Celebrate Boris!”

John Bercow, the former speaker of the House of Commons known for shouting “order,” assessed, “It was a Brexit-focused, Brexit-oriented, Brexit-dominated campaign.”

Bercow told Sky News that with such a large parliamentary majority, Johnson could count on making the first stage of Brexit happen. “But that’s the withdrawal agreement,” said Bercow, a former Conservative lawmaker. “That is about the divorce bill; it’s about the rights of European citizens. It’s about the Irish border. I don’t think, if I may say so, that means getting Brexit done in the sense that it’s gift-wrapped or oven-ready for Christmas.”

Britain would enter into a year-long transition period and immediately begin to engage in talks over a free-trade agreement and a host of other vexing issues with its former partners in the continental bloc — such as trade, intelligence-sharing and the movement of capital.

Bercow predicted Britain would be debating Brexit for the next five, 10, possibly 15 years.

This was Britain’s third general election in a little more than four years, and the second since the June 2016 Brexit referendum. According to the surplus of opinion surveys and interviews, people are as hopelessly divided over the E.U. as they were when they voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave.

Sara Hobolt, a political scientist at the London School of Economics, said the “genius of Boris Johnson” was that he united those who wanted Brexit behind him, while “the ‘Remain’ vote is much more split.”

Johnson and the Conservatives ran as populists, offering not only Brexit, but also a spending surge for cops, nurses, schools and elder care. One of their strategies was to try to break through Labour’s “red wall” of traditional support among the working classes in faded industrial towns in England’s north and Midlands.

Britain would enter into a year-long transition period and immediately begin to engage in talks over a free-trade agreement and a host of other vexing issues with its former partners in the continental bloc — such as trade, intelligence-sharing and the movement of capital.
Bercow predicted Britain would be debating Brexit for the next five, 10, possibly 15 years.

This was Britain’s third general election in a little more than four years, and the second since the June 2016 Brexit referendum. According to the surplus of opinion surveys and interviews, people are as hopelessly divided over the E.U. as they were when they voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave.
Sara Hobolt, a political scientist at the London School of Economics, said the “genius of Boris Johnson” was that he united those who wanted Brexit behind him, while “the ‘Remain’ vote is much more split.”

Johnson and the Conservatives ran as populists, offering not only Brexit, but also a spending surge for cops, nurses, schools and elder care. One of their strategies was to try to break through Labour’s “red wall” of traditional support among the working classes in faded industrial towns in England’s north and Midlands.

The strategy was a success. The Tories won the town of Workington, for example, which Labour held almost without a slip since 1918. Voters there told reporters they wanted Brexit — and didn’t trust Corbyn

Johnson on Friday morning specifically addressed voters who went Conservative for the first time in this election.

“You may have only lent us your vote,” he said. “I am humbled that you have put your trust in me, and you have put your trust in us, and I, and we, will never take your support for granted.”

The New York Times has additional reporting and analysis, while The Guardian notes that Boris Johnson’s gamble has paid off even better than the polling was forecasting:

Boris Johnson has clinched a historic Conservative general election victory, winning a string of seats from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party in its traditional heartlands.

Johnson’s gamble of triggering a snap poll in the hope of uniting the Brexit vote in leave-supporting seats across Wales, the Midlands and the north of England paid off spectacularly, setting him on course for the Tories’ strongest performance for decades.

The prime minister addressed the nation just after 7am, saying Brexit was now the “irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people” and promising those who lent their vote to the Tories in traditional Labour areas: “I will not let you down.”

Corbyn is yet to give a speech conceding defeat but he was unapologetic in the early hours of the morning as he used his acceptance speech in Islington North to attack the media’s portrayal of him and his party, and insist the party’s policies had been “extremely popular”.

Corbyn conceded it had been “a very disappointing night for the Labour party with the result that we have got”, and suggested Brexit had overshadowed other issues. He said he would not lead his party into another general election, but that Labour needed a “period of reflection”, during which he would remain in place to oversee.

Immediately after the polls closed at 10pm, the exit poll, which pointed to a much larger than expected Conservative majority of 86, sent shock waves through both major parties.

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, appeared pale and shocked when confronted with the figures on the BBC. Asked whether he and Corbyn would stand down if it proved accurate, he said: “We will see the results in the morning and decisions will be made then.”

The former mining constituency of Blyth Valley in Northumberland was an early Conservative gain, bearing out the exit poll’s prediction. It had been held by Labour since its creation and was No 116 on the Tory target list.

Scores of other long-held Labour seats, including Workington, Wrexham and Bishop Auckland, turned blue as the night went on, and by shortly after 5am the Conservatives had secured a majority.

The exit poll was updated as the night went on, and by 5am was projecting a slightly smaller Conservative majority of 74 with a 45% share of the vote, which would be the Tories’ highest since 1970.

Johnson gave his victory speech in central London in front of a slogan claiming that he would lead “the people’s government”.

He took a triumphalist tone on Brexit, saying the “miserable threats of a second referendum” were over and it was time for pro-EU campaigners to “put a sock in it”.

But the prime minister took a more humble tone towards those in Labour heartlands who voted for him and helped turn swaths of the north and Midlands blue.

“You may only have lent us your vote, you may not think of yourself as a natural Tory and you may intend to return to Labour next time round. If that is the case I am humbled that you have put your trust in me. I will never take your support for granted,” he said.

According to the most recent report by BBC News, here’s how the election turned out:

  • The Conservatives will emerge in the next Parliament with 364 seats, a gain of 47 seats, which constitutes their biggest majority since the 1987 election and biggest net pickup since the 2010 election that ushered in what could be at least 14 years of Conservative Party rule if Johnson manages to hold onto power until the next mandated election in 2024. and a number that rivals the massive majorities that Margaret Thatcher won in her first two elections.
  • Labour, meanwhile, will end up with at least 203 seats for a loss of 59 seats, which represents one of their biggest losses in since the same elections noted above, although it is slightly better than the under-200 seats that the exit poll projected.
  • Next in line behind Labour is the Scottish National Party which gained 13 seats, mostly at the expense of Labour, to give it 48 seats in the next Parliament.
  • After that, the Liberal Democrats, the only anti-Brexit national party on the ballot, won 11 seats, a loss of one, seat which just happened to be the seat held by Lib Dem leader Jill Swinson. This is obviously a disappointment for the Lib Dems, who had hoped to consolidate the anti-Brexit vote in their favor.
  • After the Lib Dems, there are 23 seats held by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, Sein Fein, which never sends members to London, the Greens, and one seat held by an independent. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, as well as the equally pro-Brexit UKIP, failed to win a single seat and don’t appear to have had a major impact on any races in individual constituencies.

The most immediate impact of the outcome of the election is the fact that it will lead to leadership changes in two of Great Britain’s political parties. Most prominently, Jeremy Corbyn, who first responded to the outcome last night by saying that he would not lead the party in a future General Election but left open the question of whether or not he would step down as Labour leader After the results of the election, and the extent of Labour losses became clear, became clear, though, Corbyn announced that he would step down as Labour Party leader after nine years in office. Similarly, Jill Swinson, who lost her seat in Scotland to a member of the Scottish National Party, announced that she would step down as party leader:

The extent of the Conservative win here likely means that Boris Johnson will have a relatively free hand in getting his Brexit deal through Parliament before the January 31st deadline. There are likely still a handful of Conservative Members of Parliament who might oppose the deal, but many of them will likely go along with the deal such that we’ll see at least the first stage of the Brexit process before the end of January. Beyond that, Johnson will still have to negotiate a trade deal with the European Union. He’ll also have to find a way to deal with the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, which has been open for some 20 years now. An effort to reimpose barriers could end up increasing tensions that had largely been quelled by the Dayton Accords of 199X and could even lead the Northern Irish to move closer to the idea of becoming part of Ireland, although that possibility seems far off. Johnson will also have to get to work on negotiating trade deals with major world economic powers like the United States, Japan, and China since the United Kingdom will no longer be covered by the trade deals those nations have with the European Union.

Labour, on the other hand, finds itself in the worst position it has been in at least a generation, and arguably as bad as it was before Clement Atlee led the party to a win in the 1935 General Election. The reasons for that are probably as numerous as the number of constituencies in the United Kingdom, but the main ones appear to be three-fold.

First of all, this election was largely a Brexit-based one in which the future of that deal was the main issue. Johnson and the Conservatives were clearly and emphatically pro-Brexit and, in addition to other issues, campaigned on a platform of getting Brexit done. Labour, on the other hand, was schizophrenic on the Brexit issue. The official party position supported enforcing the results of the 2016 referendum with vague promises about the possibility of a second referendum before Brexit became final. Second, the party failed to deliver a coherent message during the campaign while the Tories held on to the “get Brexit done” message. Finally, there’s Jeremy Corbyn, who has been a controversial figure virtually from the time he succeeded Ed Milliband as Labor leader. Even leaving aside the issue of Corbyn’s antisemitism, which became an issue during the campaign, even many long-time Labour supporters could not stomach the idea of him being Prime Minister. Additionally, under Corbyn Labour had moved well to the left of the mainstream of British politics to such an extent that even long-time Labour constituencies turned against the party. Now that he’s stepping aside, the prediction I made last night on Twitter could come true if Labour is able to get its act back together and return, as I said, to the days when it was a center-left party that voters could credibly accept:

In any case, there will no doubt be more to say about what happened across the pond yesterday. As it stands, though, this is clearly a historic win for the Tories. What they do with it is what the future will be about.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Perhaps there is a lesson in Labor’s travails for the Dem left in the US.

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  2. drj says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Perhaps there is a lesson in Labor’s travails for the Dem left in the US.

    Perhaps.

    But is it: “Don’t move too far to the left,” or “Don’t be wishy-washy about the central political issue (i.e. GOP lawlessness) of the day?” Or perhaps both?

    You tell me.

  3. @Sleeping Dog:

    Also, don’t have a leader who is inherently unlikable.

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  4. Hal_10000 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I think the lessons are limited. Andrew Sullivan had a really good piece the other day arguing that the comparison between Trump and Johnson, while tempting, is not good. Johnson is smarter, more ruthless, more savvy. He moved left economically. His goofy persona is, to some extent, a front for a very shrewd and even somewhat Machiavellian political sense.

    Corbyn is a lot more like Trump. Led a populist revolt in his own party, hates the press, rails against the international order, is at least tolerant of bigotry among the leadership and has a bizarre cultish following despite overwhelming unpopularity. And the exit polls showed that the #1 concern of the anti-Labour voters was Corbyn being in #10.

    I think the parallels are limited even in that case. We don’t have a Brexit-style issue. And part of Labour’s discontent was the leaderships’s embrace of identity politics (and tolerance of the anti-semitism that came with that). But if the Dems can capitalize on Trump’s unpopularity and capture the economic center, they have a chance to mimic Johnson’s win in 2020. I’m not optimistic, though.

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  5. Teve says:

    Corbyn’s net approval rating was like -40. There are many significant differences between the situations in the UK and America.

  6. Kathy says:

    Any news on what turnout was like?

  7. Kit says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I think the parallels are limited

    I think the main parallel is one that carries no lesson: the failure of leadership on the Left. It’s just sort of bad luck that no one was/is able to rise up with a resonant message and the ability to deliver*.

    * I haven’t given up on the current crop of Democratic candidates, but no one looks likely to set the electorate on fire.

  8. drj says:

    @Kathy:

    Turnout stands at 67.3 %, approximately 1.5% less than the previous election.

    The Tories very slightly increased their share of the vote, but Labour’s share collapsed.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: Richard North, over at EUreferendum, has done some analysis on individual race turnouts.For the most part, it looks like slightly less than 2017, with some races with increased turnout.

  10. rachel says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Yes: “Don’t have Jeremy Corbyn lead your party.”

  11. Kathy says:

    @drj:
    @grumpy realist:

    Thanks. I read reports of dismal weather conditions, including some here by our resident expert, but hadn’t heard about turnout. I figured it wasn’t a case of only 30% bothered to vote, or that would have been the headline. But I wondered whether turnout hadn’t been unusually low anyway.

    I see it wasn’t.

  12. Lounsbury says:

    @drj: “But is it: “Don’t move too far to the left,” or “Don’t be wishy-washy about the central political issue (i.e. GOP lawlessness) of the day?” Or perhaps both?”

    Or maybe “Don’t mistake the Political Priorities of the Left Activist Talking Class” for those motivating the general electorate (as in the quoted supposed central issue).

    Of course it is 100% certain that special pleading will now start among the Left activists about how really there’s nothing challenging their ideas (I noticed TPM, Judis has an entertaining special pleading).

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Rather inherently unlikable outside of the party political activist base. Corbyn is very well liked by his Activist Base and appeals nicely to them with his hectoring, unwatered down Socialism Now.

    The critical parallels to a certain American contender are well founded.

    @Hal_10000: Yes, BJ is not at all Trump. The comparison is superficial and ill-founded. Not that I am personally a fan of Boris, but it is a gross error to think they are really actually all that similar beyond some superficial showmanship aspects.

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  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: The consensus seems to be that it wasn’t so much a pro-Tory vote as it was an anti-Labour vote. Also (forget where I saw it) it looks like the Labour vote was impeded by the weather while the Tory vote wasn’t.

    This really will be a case of the dog chasing the car who has managed to catch it…and how has a huge load of question marks over his head. Think that we’re now over the hump, Brexit-wise? Ha! Even if the U.K. “gets out” at the end of January, the situation just mutates into a much more difficult situation. Boris is going to discover the hard way that his blustering and lying isn’t going to help him worth beans because now the horse-trading isn’t just going on among the U.K. political parties–a FTA will have to have everything signed off on by the other governments of the EU–all of which now have individual vetoes and have no reason to be nice to Johnson.

    Anyone with any knowledge of trade agreements knows that only a simple facade of one will be available by end of 2020 (since Boris promises to not extend.) I suspect, based on his earlier actions, that he will chuck the U.K. under the bridge as willingly as he chucked the D.U.P., cheerfully sign up for whatever the EU offers, and burble away at having “accomplished Brexit” on the back of his great majority. The Faragists will jump up and down and scream themselves purple about “betrayal” and “BRINO!”, but I suspect the bulk of the U.K. won’t care. Just as long as they’re “out” of the E.U.

  14. Kathy says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Reading 20th century history, you find there’s considerable disagreement about what constitutes fascism. For instance, there’s no coherent fascist ideology like there is for communism. Many scholars define fascism as a style of authoritarian/totalitarian government.

    That’s what we see with Trump. few successful politicians are like him, but many imitate his style. So there’s no ideological trumpism, mainly because Dennison wouldn’t know ideology from radiology if his life depended on it. but there is a trumpian style of messing things up and attacking the media to make facts irrelevant, and using any menas, including bigotry, to please the base.

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  15. Michael Cain says:

    He’ll also have to find a way to deal with the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, which has been open for some 20 years now.

    Assuming that Brexit means Parliament adopts the Johnson deal, isn’t this a settled matter? My understanding is that the Johnson version of the backstop says that, absent some miracle technology, NI will follow EU standards and the border with the Republic remains open. Border checks and customs issues for goods will be between NI and the rest of the UK. People traveling across the border will continue to fall under the Common Travel Area accord, not Schengen. Hiring across the border will become a new problem, I suppose.

  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    Twilight of the Anglo-Saxon nations. The UK already in decline but having found some equilibrium throws it away and hastens its slide into irrelevancy. Australia is already an economic colony of China. And the US abandons its constitution, humiliates itself before the world and clears the way for the rise of international chaos.

    What’s keeping Canada and New Zealand?

    You read things like The Guns of August and wonder why nations can’t stop themselves from self-immolation. And then, we’re in the book.

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  17. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You read things like The Guns of August and wonder why nations can’t stop themselves from self-immolation. And then, we’re in the book.

    To quote from a Tom Clancy novel, where one character is discussing this issue: “The leaders had to like step away from themselves and look at what they were doing, but the dumb f**ks didn’t know how.”

    I’ve no doubt Trump and Johnson and others are dumb f**ks. But maybe they know what they’re doing and keep doing it anyway.

  18. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Sidebar: My Jeremy Corbyn experience.

    Back in the early 1980’s I took an overseas study in comparative political systems at the University of London through Michigan State University.

    One of the bonus events would be to have a speaker join us an a tour…. expecting little, I was overwhelmed to find that the speaker was Jeremy Corbyn, and he personally hosted us to a tour of Parliament (both the house of Commons and the House of Lords). I actually touched the woolsack that sits on the House of Lords floor. This was an experience that few in England would ever have the chance to have.

    Jeremy was an excellent speaker, bringing the history of England and the UK to life… at a time of Reagan and Thatcher, he spoke passionately of the plight of the average citizen.

    Sadly, now, nationalism has captured the attention of many. Words spoken seem to have more value than promises kept, as the population seems to have absolutely no memory of yesterday or capability of critical thought.

    Our bubble here at OTB is an eddy of informed thought… I fear for our future.

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  19. JohnSF says:

    So much for predictions from me; I was convinced the Conservatives were headed for a single figure majority, if not a hung parliament.
    Maybe ten to twenty seats majority at the outside best for them.
    This result is almost incredible.

    It’s the worst showing for Labour for more than 80 years.
    At least I did say Corbyn was spectacularly unpopular, but I didn’t think that would hurt Labour as a party as much as it did.
    The Conservatives didn’t just breach the “Red Wall”, they reduced it to rubble and held a picnic in the ruins.

    I need more detailed figures, and time to analyse, but this must mean there are a lot more Labour seats outside the urban cores that must now be rated Lab/Con marginal.

  20. JohnSF says:

    First run over the figures; it struck me, all the TV pundits I caught were saying “… LibDems have had a bad night …”
    Yes, insofar as they made no gains and leader Swinson lost her seat.
    BUT Swinson’s seat is in Scotland, she lost to SNP.

    Let’s look at the national percentages (with caveat, national figures limited utility, to really get anything you need to breakdown seats by region, type, class etc.)

    This is a historical Conservative win, based on a national vote share gain of just plus 1.2% !
    To hear the pundits you’d think the Conservatives were over half in the national vote; nope, just 43.6%

    By comparison the LibDems are up 4.2% (from a lower base, of course) and interestingly gained votes in both Leave and Remain seats, and in both Lab and Con held.

    Looks like a lot of LibDems were NOT prepared to vote tactically on an anti-Tory basis; Corbyn’s Labour stuck in their throats. (It certainly did in mine).

    Conservatives gained votes in “strongly leave areas”, up 6%, but in “strong remain” ones DOWN 3%.
    Need more data and time, but I’d bet there are a dozen plus seats where LibDems are close to scalping Cons.

    The key are the Labour figures which are appalling.
    Down 7.9% national vote share.
    Losses vary, seem to have slices lost roughly equally by Conservatives, LibDems, Greens and abstainers; plus the regional hammering by the Scots.

    Patterns vary according to seats local quirks, but enough concentration of heavy loss and Con gain in working class areas to enable Conservatives to make dramatic seat gains on a small national vote gain.

  21. Justin C Hobbs says:

    We’ll see how well that new support for the conservatives last. I expect they will pull some stunt that will cost them unless white UK working class voters are the same as their American counterparts.

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  22. JohnSF says:

    Some other disconnected thoughts:

    – If Labour are counted as Remain, total votes for Remain parties 50.3% Leave parties 45.6%

    – Nationalists now hold the majority of seats in Northern Ireland

    – The struggle between SNP and Johnson will be defining feature of the next Parliament.

    – Johnson owns Brexit now. He has the Commons votes and a period of ascendancy to shape it to his will; will he betray the ERG and shift to “soft Brexit”? and risk the wrath of Leavers re. “free movement”; or go “hard” and risk the Leaver votes he’s won waking up and finding their economy has sailed off to the Continent?

    – Those who bought the “get Brexit done” line are likely in for a rude awakening, one way or another; can Johnson crush or buy off the fanatics and lull the less attentative back to sleep? or distract with a few “culture war” diversions?

    – If the Conservatives want to keep the “Beyond the Red Wall” votes, they’ll need to change some policies. Can such changes be made acceptable to their established core groups: the suburban/exurban/rural older middle class, and the wealthy “donor class”?

    – Would such trying to finesse a shift by avoiding economic differences of these groups by playing up “cultural” themes risk losing the other middle class vote in the Con/LibDem battlespace?

    – And finally, can the Corbynites please FOADIAF?

  23. JohnSF says:

    @Hal_10000:
    @Lounsbury:
    Thirded that Johnson is not a Trump-alike.
    He’s far more intelligent, and much more calculated.

    As I’ve commented before, “Boris” is largely a public persona created for the purposes of Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson; all the biographical accounts agree he is known to close friends and family as Alexander or Alex, not Boris.

    Trump is actually an outsider; Johnson is thoroughly establishment in origin, environs, tastes, but without any loyalty to it.
    Compared to, say, Cameron or Osborne, Johnson is slightly semi-detatched from the establishment core.

    Trump’s populism seems, as far as something so incoherent can be, at least in part what he actually thinks.
    Johnson believes in almost nothing beyond what serves Johnson.

    He is also much more charming, by all accounts, when and with whom he wants to be.
    And able to play up the “clever clown” act.
    If he’s a political rival, it’s only when you stop laughing, part with him, part at him, that you suddenly notice the knife between your shoulder-blades.

    His failings; a tendency to laziness, a belief that detail and implementation are for the “little people” to sort out, and god help them if they fail; a lack of concern for those he harms in pursuit of his goals; cynicism verging on amorality; indifference to truth and to institutional proprieties.
    He also does not handle sustained interrogation well. The chummy mask tends to slip, and the prepared lines fail to cover up a lack of grip on the details.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: My own suspicion is that the Left is going to have a tougher row to hoe for the short/medium term (a decade, maybe two) because only the Right has a plausible “free lunch” offer anymore. We’ve all been hearing that we can pay for what we want by “taxing the rich” for so long that everyone’s on to it not happening. The rich (Michael Reynolds excepted) are not going to vote increased taxes on themselves to any major degree (and even raising Reynolds’ taxes will only bring chump change into the deal anyway), they’re not going to pay higher payroll taxes in the US, they’re not going to pay transaction fees on equity deals or taxes on chattel property either. Everybody knows the Left can’t provide any of what it promises if it has to be paid for.

    The Right relies on the innumeracy of masses to sell that tax cuts will pay for themselves and can still, for the moment anyway, sell “we really WILL tax the rich [because we’ve been agin’ it].” I don’t know how long they can keep up the dance, but at 67 and in only fair health, I may not see them run out of stamina.

  25. Grumpy realist says:

    @JohnSF: one fat reason why people like Richard North can’t stand The Oaf. After you spend your entire life dealing with the complexity of regulation, it’s infuriating to get a PM who just breezes in and hand waves all the problems away. Boris is incurably lazy, which means he never even bothers to check to see if what he’s saying is true. He’s the absolute epitome of the upper-class twit who thinks he can “muddle through” all problems.

    So Britain will have to discover the hard way that the devil is in the details and that no, you can’t just muddle through everything.

  26. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Possibly.
    I know that of the people I’ve happened to talk about it with, mostly hardly wealthy, there was a lot of scepticism re. Labour spending plans since c.2010:
    “all well and good (policy Y, but where’s the money coming from? Taxing the bankers will pay for it, they say; but they said that for (policy X) last week. Even the bloody bankers can’t pay for everything. And that’s assuming they’re not clever enough to avoid the tax.”
    Notable that a major source of scepticism re. Labour in one poll (behind Corbyn, but about par with Brexit policy) was fiscal incredulity.

    For everyday expenditure in a modern economy, high social expenditure entails fairly high taxes on just-above-average incomes; look at Scandinavia. And the more equalised income levels are the higher the burden on average incomes.

    There are arguments for higher (or lower) marginal tax levels on higher earners, on fiscal and social grounds, but there’s no avoiding the need for fiscal realism: want it? cough up!

    OTOH there’s a good case for capital expenditure to be debt funded (so long as that is capital expenditure and NO Mrs Crabapple, teacher salaries are NOT investment in education!), and for wealth taxes on grounds of economic/social resource usage efficiency, stomping on tax avoidance, and conservative distributism.

  27. JohnSF says:

    A final thought for the evening:
    I’ll raise a glass and a toast to the old fashioned Conservatives who rebelled against Johnson’s irresponsible populism.

    The last of the Conservative Party I could vote for:

    Lord Michael Heseltine
    Sir John Major
    Ken Clarke
    Dominic Grieve
    David Gauke
    Philip Hammond
    Rory Stewart
    Oliver Letwin
    Anna Soubry
    Sarah Wollaston
    Sam Gyimah
    Guto Bebb
    Justine Greening
    Anne Milton
    Antoinette Sandbach

    Ave atque vale !

  28. @JohnSF:

    If Labour are counted as Remain,

    Labour was not pro-Remain.

    The only pro-Remain national party was the Liberal Democrats. They ended Election Night with just 8 seats and their now-former leader could not even hold on to her own seat.

  29. Lounsbury says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Labour was as a party muddled. Some were, some were not. Faced with serious divisions among its regional constituencies and Corbyn’s own latent Leavism, temporized.

    One can’t conclude much about Remain from the results other than division of Remain votes between different buckets versus concentration (and clarity above all) of Leave in First Past the Post is rather more effective.

    The American version lessons would be focused on the Electoral map.

  30. JohnSF says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    I don’t know where you’re getting that LibDem 8 seats from; they scored 11.
    (DUP got 8)
    Swinson’s loss is bad for LibDem morale, but she was IMHO a poor leader, and her loss is better seen in the context of SNP ascendancy in Scotland.

    As for Labour and the “Remain camp” : You are correct in terms of formal policy.
    But mistaken as to perceptions.
    Labour was generally perceived as being anti-Brexit; it was a significant element in their loss of votes (though a long way behind Corbyn personally, and par with policy affordability).

    The Labour Party was not formally pro-Remain, because the leadership was not, plus some MPs for Leave majority seats, and a small but disproportionately vocal section of the activist membership.
    But their “compromise” policy of renegotiate-then-referendum was plainly Remain oriented.

    The overwhelming majority of MPs, members, broader supporters and voters were and are “Remain”; a survey in January showed membership c. 90% Remain.
    The only qualification there is that a lot would settle for EEA/CA “soft Brexit” as a reasonable second best.

    Even among wider Labour voters, the majority might be “just ignore it and hope it goes away” and inclined to hope Johnson could just get it finished.
    But polling indicators earlier in the year were c.80% of Labour voters even in Leave supporting areas were Remainers.

    The country is, as it was, divided roughly equally between Remain and Leave with the OVERWHELMING CAVEAT that most ordinary people would just like it done and forgotten.

    Johnson now has a chance to get it done, on his terms; if those terms avoid massive economic harm, even a lot of Remainers will breathe a sigh of relief and be inclined to congratulate Johnson for it.
    If.

  31. Hal_10000 says:

    @JohnSF:

    Extremely well put!