There’s really no sugar coating this. Yesterday’s British elections were bad for our cause. I will probably be adding more to this post as I think of more brilliant observations.
How do you get to be the third place party in popular votes, more votes than the SNP and LD combined, yet come out of the night with only one seat, (losing one that they took in a byelection last fall), compared to the 64 combined that the SNP and LD have? It’s easy. Because of first past the post (“FPTP”). UKIP had a lot of very solid second and third place finishes, but they were mostly in constituencies (“const(s),” from here on out) that were solid Labour or solid Tory. I’m hesitant ever to use the weasel phrase “protest vote,” but that’s what most UKIP votes probably were, people who lived in safe consts for one of the other parties, who liked the UKIP well enough, and were reacting to bad news and bad circumstances by voting UKIP knowing their votes would not change Westminster (“WM”) calculus. There was a lot of worrying in Tory circles and in the arena of conventional political wisdom that UKIP would cost the Tories this whole shooting match. If anything, if one digs deep into the const results, I bet you’ll find that in Tory-Lab two-way marginals where the UKIP vote changed the winner, the UKIP vote swung more consts from Lab to Tory than the other way around. Meaning that UKIP was a net help, not a net hindrance, to the Tories.
An insurgent right-populist movement winds up redounding to the benefit of lamestream conservatives, and the right-pops get little to nothing out of it. Where have we seen that movie before? Right. Scratch out “UKIP” and insert “Tea Party Movement,” and scratch out “Tories” and insert “Republicans,” and it’s just about the same story.
But none of that changes the WM reality of only one seat, and one that doesn’t matter because the Tories have an outright majority. The Tories don’t need anybody’s help for anything now. As far as David Cameron is concerned, he has beat back the UKIP threat, which looked like almost an existential threat in the latter one-third of last year.
Otherwise, these are the exigencies of FPTP systems. The BNP did well in 2009 MEP elections but less well in the 2010 Parliamentary elections; UKIP was the star of the 2014 MEPs but disappointed yesterday. That’s because MEP elections use a proportional representation system such that voters don’t think they’re wasting their vote or changing parliamentary outcomes by voting for a “lesser” party instead of a major one. Douglas Carswell, who gave the only victory speech for UKIP last night, used the occasion to call for electoral reform. Something which, for very obvious reasons, will not happen any time in the next five years.
Nigel Farage has stepped down from party leadership. The conventional wisdom in UKIP circles is that someone who matriculated through UKIP and only UKIP needs to lead UKIP, as opposed to someone who defected from the Tories, Farage and Carswell being examples of the latter. Problem is, there may not be anyone in UKIP who can work it like Farage. I think he should reconsider. (Update: Party leadership rejected his resignation).
Now have an outright majority because they cleaned up almost everywhere in England and Wales outside of the notable big cities. In fact, London had some of the few bright spots for Labour swinging marginals away from Tories.
Special Ed Miliband is going to rue the day that he openly promised Muslim voters to make Islamophobia a damned near capital crime.
Some are thinking that Miliband being Jewish cost him somehow, that it meant that Labour’s support was less than the polling suggested, that some sorts of voters said they were voting Labour but never had any intention because of his being Jewish. Muslim voters, maybe, but I don’t see why Muslims wouldn’t vote Miliband, especially because of his Dhimmitude and pandering. Maybe a scant few working class whites abandoned Labour over anti-Semitism, but not enough to swing as much as one const. A lot of British Jews were upset that Miliband is openly anti-Israel and pro-invented people. That may have affected some media coverage, but that’s probably not enough by itself to change one const.
If Miliband’s ethnicity was a factor, it wasn’t that he is Jewish, it’s that he isn’t Scottish. The last two Labour Party PMs, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, are Scottish. Meaning that Labour cleaned up in Scotland when the party leader is Scottish. But not so much when that’s not the case. I’ll get to that below.
Another probable cause for Labour underperformance relative to the polls and to the party’s expectations coming into the election season is that like the American Democrat Party, the British Labour Party has become an identity politics coalition of the fringes. That is a big turnoff to working class whites, but it doesn’t turn them on to the Tories. This is where UKIP came in.
Five years and one month ago, Nick Clegg was the Obama-style darling and the toast of British politics and the British political media. Now, he’s out as LD leader, his party driven almost to the brink of extinction, from 56 seats to 8 seats, from 22% to 8%. It’s easy to think that left wing voters punished the LDs for going into a coalition with the Tories by swinging to Labour. Except there seemed to be as many LD to Tory swings in consts as there were LD to Labour swings in England and Wales, add to it a few LD to SNP swings in Scotland.
So I’m at a loss for a good explanation.
At one point last night, I tweeted (in not so many words, to keep under 140) that Scottish voters were demonstrating by voting SNP that they wish they could have a mulligan on the independence vote.
They might actually get just that, or get independence without a plebiscite, with their turning Scotland’s consts yellow. Or, to put it more accurately, with a Tory majority at WM even counting a country with Scotland, David Cameron is going to dictate Scotland’s terms of departure.
It’s the frustration of the night. Officially, Labour 52% UKIP 30%. That would seem pretty good, and it does represent an 8.2% swing from Labour to UKIP over five years ago. Except…there was a byelection in this const in 2012. The results were: Labour 52%, UKIP+BNP 30%. In 2010, the BNP candidate got 10% in this const. So UKIP’s “success” yesterday resulting in the swing was nothing more than BNP voters from three years ago switching to UKIP. Otherwise, no change, and Labour has not been punished for its criminal behavior in Rotherham, at least not on the WM level.
Everyone is so mad, so they go to vote, and get essentially more of the same.
1. Why were the polls so wrong? I keep reading a lot about “shy Tory syndrome,” sort of the British equivalent of the Bradley Effect. Some are comparing this to Likud and Republicans doing much better than the polling suggested they would in the most recent important elections in Israel and the United States, respectively. I’ve been saying since November that Republicans did better than polling suggested because polling couldn’t see how pathetically low non-white turnout would be, and I still think that’s partially true. Steve Sailer thinks it’s Shy Tory Syndrome, mainly because of the way the mainstream media-political culture were chimping out in 2014 over Donald Sterling, the Children’s Crusade, Ferguson and Hobby Lobby. The good news is that we will find out the real turnout numbers next month from the Census Bureau, so we’ll see how much lower non-white turnout played a role.
2. The consts that swung. I have to rethink some of my suppositions above. Not counting Scotland, we have 27 from LD to Tory, 12 from LD to Labour, 10 from Tory to Labour, 8 from Labour to Tory. So the LDs bled out way more to the Tories than to Labour. As far as Tory-Lab swings, the 10 that swung from Tory to Lab were mostly in London and a few in other big cities; incidentally, London was UKIP’s weakest region in England. The eight that swung from UKIP to Tory were in rural England, where UKIP was strongest. Proving my theory that UKIP was a net benefit to the Tories because UKIP swept up Labour votes swinging close Lab-held Tory-Lab marginals to the Tories.
The most inexplicable swings here are the 27 from LD to Tory. (UPDATE: Or, not so much; see below.)
3. When there’s a surprising result, there’s usually some measure of somebody coopting somebody else’s agenda going on. Don’t be surprised in the coming days if we find out that the Tories tried to coopt the UKIP agenda in certain places.
4. There’s also talk that the Tories ran a subterranean campaign in England and Wales against Scottish nationalism and identity, or even if they didn’t, certain things that SNP leaders and candidates said meant that English voters were going to think in those terms.
5. HBD Chick does what she does best.
6. David Axelrod advised Labour, and he was said to be helping him in ways that he helped Obama win re-election in 2012. But I knew all along that would be a big flop, because the UK has very few elderly black women voters. The few they have live in safe Labour consts anyway. But just to show you what the Tories are made of, another former Obama hack, Jim Messina, was advising them.
More UKIP news and reading material, here and here and here and here.
They won a majority in the local council of Thanet, which contained one of the consts that Nigel Farage tried to win.
UKIP finished 2nd in 120 consts, and while there are 650 consts in the whole UK, there are 533 in England and 40 in Wales; if you back out London’s 73 consts, which for obvious reasons (*) is never going to be UKIP friendly territory, then UKIP finished in second in more than a fourth of the rest of England and Wales. UKIP was the top gainer in almost all English and Welsh consts.
(*) – Or maybe not so obvious to many of you, so let me fill in the blanks. London’s Labour consts are red (Labour’s color) because of racial minorities, as you can see in HBD Chick’s link above, not working-middle class whites. London’s Tory consts are full of very well to do people who benefit from European continental integration, globalism and mass immigration, but don’t like Labour’s fiscal and economic policies (think: Establishment Republicans in the United States). Neither group of London voters are much interested in UKIP’s keynote policies.
Conventional wisdom based on the traditional classism of British society and politics was that the BNP (back in the days when the BNP was viable) bled off of Labour while UKIP bled off the Tories. However, classism is breaking down in Britain, and proof of that is that UKIP bled fairly evenly from the Tories, Labour and the LDs. And, as it turns out, all the LD to Tory swings are not so inexplicable, because UKIP bled off so many LD votes in the southwest and other places that the Tories won by standing still.
After a few days of people actually drilling down the data, it doesn’t look quite so bad for UKIP.