May 05, 2005

BritVote 2005

Today is the general election in the UK, though right now it's already tomorrow there. It's looking, of course, like Tony and Labor will hold the majority. No surprises at all. However, it is also looking like there might be a drop in the majority, from almost 170 in 2001 to under 70 this year. That's just an early predictor of course, but the Tories appear to have a good chance to make some serious gains. The LibDems are also set to make a vote gain, if not an appreciable seat gain. Remember, UK general elections go district by district (except they never say "district' - they ALWAYS say "constituency" because why use two syllables when you could use five?). So While it might end up that the popular vote is 37% Labor, 33% Tory, 22% LibDem, the seats could be dispersed in such a way that the LibDems have few and Labor has a fairly safe majority.

The other thing for Americans to remember is when the Brits say things like "Labour hold Durham North" as the BBC site said, that's not a typo. They view group-nouns as plural, even when it's only one group.

I'm mixed about the election in that I am rooting for and against four of the parties - Labor, Tories, LibDems, and the UKIPs - because I really like some or much of their platform and really dislike or despise other parts of it. I'm really sort of mixed. All I root for is that the various good ideas they have get rewarded while the bad ones get punished, but that's frightfully difficult to communicate through a single vote.

I want Howard's forthrightness and tax cut to get support, not his mildly anti-immigration stance. I want Tony's anti-interest economic policy and his support for fighting terrorists outside the West to get support, not his awkward populism or party of fools. I want Charles Kennedy's opposition to national IDs and support-in-rhetoric of cutting regulation to hold sway, not his petty social-left policies or hypocritical regulatory fantasies. I'm just mixed.

When the night is over, it's looking like Labor will drop to a seat number in the 350s or 360s according to a BBC exit poll. The Tories will rise to the low-ish 200s and the LibDems will gain one seat to hold 53. The poll specifically says it will be 356-209-53 among the big three (that's out of 646).

If that happens, Tony might be in trouble. After all, it's historic for Labor to win three elections in a row, especially by such margins, but it really weakens Blair's hold in place. He might get pushed out by Gordon Brown mid-term, despite Blair's claim to end the term personally. But I can't even feel toos trongly about that. I don't like how Tony plays numbers politics -citing numbers in PMQT that are supposed to show how Labor is better, instead of giving principled arguments on more issues- and I realize he's kind of slimier than the average politician (which is a factor of skill on his part, more than moral rectitude on the part of most of his colleagues) but at the same time I recognize that's he's incredibly clever, that he's done wonders for Britain by bringing the left out of socialist territory, and that he stood by both the US and Iraq.

So if Tony is replaced by Gordon Brown, I'd regret seeing him go, as a US ally and as a mildly pro-market influence on the Labor Party. At the same time, Gordon Brown might make it easier for the Tories to get in power and enact some more serious economic policies like tax cuts and so forth. So it might be better in the long run. But I'm not all that gung-ho on the Tories, given their wishy-washiness and the strange flirtation with anti-immigrants. So it's not like what's good for the Tories is necessarily all that great in general.

I'm rotting for the Tories because they stand for something closer to what I'd like and perhaps moreso out of my dislike for Labor.

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