Much has been said this week about the British local elections, the Stormont election in Ulster, etc. The usual culprits have, as always, missed the point. After 12 years leading government, the Tories have taken a hit. London was a nightmare, but that was to be expected. London has been trending heavily in Labour’s direction for some time. The West Country broke heavily for the Liberal Democrats. In other regions, the Tories gained seats. Minor parties also had a good night, especially in the Midlands and North. Boris has managed to make a dog’s breakfast of his tenure, but Starmer hasn’t convinced all that many that he’d be the better PM.

Ulster is trickier. Stormont does not have a first-past-the-post system. Nor does any party “rule” the province. Rather, there is an obligatory power-sharing system. Unionists did lose ground, but Nationalists lost even more ground. The neutral Alliance Party did best.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

7 thoughts on “Perspective”

  1. Christopher –
    It’s a well known fact that local elections in the UK are always a knee-jerk reaction to national politics.
    Local councillors have no power whatsoever to change things at the national level and so it’s fairly safe to to vote in independents, Lib-Dems, etc at the local level.
    The fact that Labour did not make a killing (as might have been expected) tells me that the Brits do not trust Labour at any level of government: – and it’s not just Starmer – it’s the whole damn lot of them.
    I’m not very good at Google searches – so I have not been able to confirm one of the comments that I recently read in a U.K. newspaper which seemed to imply that one did not have to be a U.K. citizen to vote in local elections. if that is so that would also skew any readings of how local elections might impact on the results of a general election.
    I do know that citizens of the Republic of Ireland have a legal right to vote in all elections the U.K. and feel very strongly that the right should be withdrawn. The RoI has been independent for over 100 years and should not be allowed to participate in the governing of a foreign country.
    As for your comments re Boris – I simply won’t discuss him with you – we disagree completely! I think he has done a great job under incredibly difficult circumstances – his only fault has been to let the world see the ‘workings’ behind his decisions – i.e. medical v economic advice.

  2. Boadicea: Yes. Local elections rarely go well for the party in power. The Tories have been in government for 12 years now. After this much time in power, it’s rare for parties “not” to face drubbings in by-elections, local elections and, yes, general elections. For all the talk about how (predictably) poorly the Tories fared, their share of the vote held up reasonably well. The Liberal Democrats tend to do quite well in local elections, anyway — especially in Wessex. But Labour? Not so much. It wasn’t a terrible night for them, but it does show that they’re not exactly a government-in-waiting and Starmer is hardly looking like a PM on the make. If anything, Starmer has been less of an impediment than Corbyn. Labour did more than merely neglect or take its traditional base for granted. It has actively fought political battles against its traditional base. It has insulted and derided its traditional base. Why would working class voters, why would people in the old mill towns, in the old factory towns Chester, Yorkshire, Clydesdale, the Welsh Valleys, etc. plumb for Labour when it’s clear that Labour in its current form actively despises them?

    You are correct. Citizens of European Economic Area countries, the Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland can vote in local elections. Citizens of the RoI and Commonwealth can also vote in general elections. The partition of the United Kingdom in 1922 was deeply traumatic. For better or worse, Ireland had been intertwined with Great Britain for so long that they could not easily be separated. So many people in Ireland have English and Scots ancestry. So many people in Ireland have family in Great Britain, so many people in Great Britain have family in Ireland. Although the Irish Free State was established in 1922, Ireland remained effectively integrated into the greater British market for generations afterwards. Even now, the United Kingdom is Ireland’s second largest trading partner. Roughly a million Irish-born people live in the United Kingdom and over six million have at least one Irish grandparent. Likewise, British citizens have unique legal rights that citizens of other countries do not enjoy. That includes voting. I’d argue that the current set-up is reasonable. It works for people. On a personal level, there is little real animosity between the Irish and the British. Ireland isn’t all that different from the United Kingdom. If there are currently more issues than normal, it’s because of the regular culprits — the USA and EU.

    There are two Boris Johnsons. There is the good Boris and there is the bad Boris. You don’t always know which Boris you’re going to get. My life was utterly destroyed by the bad Boris. I have been paying the price for some time and I will continue to pay the price for some time because of his caprice. At the same time, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, etc. would have been/would be even worse. The Cur-bin would have been unthinkable.

  3. It has always amused me, somewhat ironically, that expatriate British are disbarred from voting, but they’ll let any bit of flotsam or jetsam vote for anything. There is supposedly a way of voting for us, but they always seem to manage to send out any paperwork with insufficient time to get it back and tallied! My oh my!! Gave up decades ago.
    Equally I can’t vote here either. Green card holders are not eligible. Here in WA, one has to turn up at the town hall with sufficient identification before one can even be put on the electoral roll, bloody good idea, they should try it in the UK and scrape some of the parasites off!

  4. If I read C-D correctly, there is no overwhelming animosity between the peoples of Britain and the Republic of Ireland – bar that initial early 20th-century falling out on the subject of State-supported/promoted religion – namely Protestant versus Catholic Christianity.

    So rather than speculate on a fusion between present Northern v Southern Ireland, separating off from Britain, here’s an alternative.

    Answer: a new expanded United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland ( the latter previously separated North v. South).

    I consider that all three parties – Great Britain ( present England, Wales and Scotland) + Northern Ireland + present Republic of Ireland, following a new combined statehood into a single entity , would benefit from a fusion of all three – ticking a multitude of boxes, notably economic and political.


  5. CO: The UK has, as a matter of course, required regular updates to voter rolls and there will be a requirement for photo IDs at the next general election. The complexity of the UK’s legal history means that some groups were had acquired voting rights due to past arrangements have been able to retain them, but the UK has done far better than the weight on Mexico’s shoulders in managing its elections. Then again, the less said about that country the better. Spain isn’t much better. Spaniards can apply for a voto rogado, a begged vote, but it’s a hellish process and few succeed.

    CB: On a personal level, I’m not opposed to a five-country United Kingdom. Although Ireland has managed on its own, the notion that Ireland is somehow “independent”misses the mark. During its period of union, Ireland’s position was complex. On one hand, regular Irish people were often given a raw deal — including after 1922. At the same time, the fact that Ireland returned MPs from Irish parties meant that they could hold a lot of sway over British politics, especially after close elections. If the SNP were intelligent (which they’re not), they could hold similar sway today. Labour are no longer a major force in Scottish politics and the Tories and Lib Dems have only middling support. Labour cannot lead a government unless it does well in Scotland. A Labour/SNP coalition would be workable, but not if the SNP would only use their position to try to destroy the UK. Back to the original topic… Ireland traded a complex, but not impossible, union with Great Britain for partition, sectarianism and dependence — without having any direct input at Westminster. In time, it traded an at times inequitable, but benign, dependence on the UK for a malignant dependence on the EU. Ireland’s voice in the EU is barely audible. With the UK independent, Ireland will have to learn to manage on its own without being able to hide behind the UK. Irish views on the EU aren’t as straightforward as they would sometimes appear, either. Overall, the Irish tend to be very favourable to the EU. For example, whereas Germans, Lithuanians, Estonians, etc. weren’t overly keen on adopting the euro, the Irish were quite happy to do so. At the same time, the Irish have not been particularly keen in the Treaties of Nice and Lisbon. There isn’t that much support for an EU military and there is a great deal of scepticism surrounding the levels of integration favoured by Brussels and Berlin.

  6. Christopher:
    I don’t live in the U.K. but do try to follow the politics – and I think you are absolutely right in saying Labour has taken its roots for granted.
    I also think they have misunderstood one of the most interesting aspects of the British psyche which is when those who have been loyal finally feel they have been betrayed need more than mere words to return to their previous allegiances.
    The Red Wall fell in the last election and Labour needs to assure the people of North England that Labour is not just a London, champagne sipping party for them to vote Labour again. They’re not doing a great job as far as I can see – but I might be wrong!
    Boris has the time to set programs to change the imbalance between North and South and I have every confidence that he will attempt to do so. I hope that he succeeds.

    I’m not entirely sure you are correct on who is eligible to vote in the U.K.
    I have just gone on the U.K. web-site and have been told categorically that I cannot vote in any U.K. election because it is over 15 years since I had a vote in the U.K.
    I have looked at what citizens of the Commonwealth can vote – and Australia is not one of those listed.

    I actually have no problems with that. I don’t think anyone who has not lived in their country of birth for many years, has taken another citizenship and/or has no intention of returning to that country should have any right whatsoever in determining how that country is governed.
    As Far as I’m concerned I gave that right away when I left the U.K.
    Although I have to admit I would dearly have loved to vote in the Brexit referendum – on the grounds that I had the right of putting a wrong right.

  7. Boadicea: The law might have been changed. That was the case when I voted in local and European elections.
    One thing that I noted long ago about British law is just how much is based on residence rather than strictly citizenship. Take, for example, tuition. Pre-2022, EEA students paid lower rates of tuition than foreign students in EEA countries. So, for example, an Italian student studying at a French or Dutch university would pay lower tuition (the same as a French or Dutch citizen) than a Chinese or Indian student. Their place of residence was irrelevant. A Canadian student with French parents and dual Canadian-French citizenship would be treated the same as a French citizen with habitual residence in France. In the UK, said student would have had to live in an EEA country for a number of years prior to starting her/his studies in the UK to be given the EEA rate rather than the Canadian.

    It is, likewise, the same with voting it seems. In Germany, a citizen resident outside the Federal Republic can vote in federal and European elections indefinitely so long as she or he resided in Germany for at least three months after reaching legal majority. In most cases, that is how it works. The concept of absolute citizenship trumps residence. When I voted in the last European elections in the UK (Brexit Party, obviously) many citizens of EEA countries had their knickers in a twist because they found that they were not registered to vote in the election even though they had had been for the previous local elections. The BBC, Guardian, Indy, etc. spouted all sorts of bilge and drivel. What they collectively ignored as a simple, but profoundly important, detail. To vote in a European election in a country other than the one you have the citizenship of, you have to sign a form renouncing your right to vote in your country of nationality. That was done to prevent people from voting twice. If people felt strongly enough about voting in that election, they “should” have made sure that they had all their ducks in a row. Many, if not most, failed to do so. Because I did feel very strongly that Britain had been abused by the EU, because I did feel very strongly that the established parties deserved a strong kick in the teeth, I made bloody well sure that I’d be able to vote and that I would vote for the Brexit Party. To this day, the fact that I got stuck in vilest Dementialand with one suitcase and faced ruin is something I ascribe to Boris’s mindless parroting of China’s pandemic response rather than British Liberation. As such, I will be in Ireland later this year and hope to travel to the UK as much as possible before resettling in the UK after getting an Irish passport — if I live long enough, which is not a certainty.

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