© Daily Record
My head hurts. Since Friday morning I’ve been trying to figure out the results of the British general election and I still don’t feel much wiser. Here’s how it appears to me.
Theresa May’s Conservative Party got the most seats in Parliament, 317 out of 650. So they won the election. Right? Wrong. Their total was 13 down on what it’d been before, which left Theresa May looking the world’s biggest dolt for calling the election in the first place because she’d assumed, from the polls, that her party would be returned with a thumping majority. In fact, the biggest thump heard as the results came in was that of Tory jaws striking the floor in shock and disbelief at their majority failing to materialise. Now they’re nine seats short of the magic 326 number required for a working majority and it looks like they’ll have to do a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. More on whom in a minute.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has been hailed as the election’s big winners because they performed much better than expected. There’s rarely been an election campaign where the odds against the main opposition party doing well seemed so great. In particular, Corbyn and his followers had opprobrium heaped on them by the British press – two days before the vote, for instance, the Daily Mail seemed to devote an entire edition to telling us that Corbyn was an evil, crazed, corrupt, terrorist-loving, Satan-worshipping, child-murdering, baby-eating ghoul. However, despite the unexpected bounce in their fortunes, Labour still managed a total of only 262 seats. Even if they joined forces with the all the other non-right-wing parties in Westminster, they’d barely come within touching distance of that 326 working-majority number.
Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats increased their share of seats by a third. That’s a win, right? Well academically. They now have 12 seats instead of nine and remain utterly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Next!
Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party got its second-biggest share ever of seats in Scotland, 35 out of 59 and comfortably more than all the seats won by the other Scottish parties put together. That surely qualifies as a win, right? But no. The party lost 21 of the seats it’d won in the previous election of 2015, which had been its all-time high-water-mark, with the result that their performance this time has been interpreted as a loss. That’s certainly how the anti-SNP mainstream media in Scotland has been spinning it furiously since Friday.
The Scottish results are rich in irony. The Scottish Labour Party managed to increase its number of seats from one to seven, helped no doubt by the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing credentials north of the border. Yet for the past few years the Scottish Labour Party has been notable for its loathing of Corbyn. ‘SLAB’ leader Keiza Dugdale claimed that Corbyn would leave the Labour Party ‘carping from the side-lines’ and Ian Murray, previously Labour’s only Scottish MP, once resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in an effort to undermine him.
Meanwhile, the way the media has fawned over Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson since the election has left many with the impression that Scotland has now entirely turned Tory and Davidson has somehow become the new Queen of Scots. I’ve seen comments on Twitter by hurt English Labour voters, berating the Scots for changing the habits of a lifetime, voting Tory en masse and letting the Conservatives finish ahead of Corbyn. For the record, Davidson’s Tories won 13 seats in Scotland, 22% of the total – a lot by their usual standards in Scotland but nowhere near a majority. Though in the topsy-turvy world of Britain’s 2017 general election, a showing of 22% is construed as a victory. (Yet another irony is that the pro-Brexit Scottish Tories won their seats in regions like the Borders and the North-East, heavily dependent on agriculture, which will likely get hammered when Brexit goes ahead and EU farming subsidies stop being paid.)
One group who lost utterly was the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party, which went from a vote-share of 12.7% in 2015 to a share of 1.8% in 2017, won no seats at all and saw its leader, the wretched Paul Nuttall, come close to losing his deposit when he stood in the constituency of Boston and Skegness. Thus, UKIP are dead, buried and hopefully already in an advanced state of decomposition. Good riddance to them.
© Daily Mirror
And probably the party who are feeling most chuffed post-election are the afore-mentioned DUP in Northern Ireland, who won 10 seats; and who since Friday morning have had Theresa May, desperate to form a Conservative-DUP coalition, wooing and serenading them like Romeo under Juliet’s balcony in Act 2, Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet. Yes, because the DUP have become the new kingmakers at Westminster, they could be identified as the real winners of this election. Mind you, if you examine their beliefs and political record, you soon appreciate what a shower of losers they are.
Where to begin with Theresa May’s new best friends, the DUP? Well, there’s the fact that as a bunch of Bible-thumping, science-hating nincompoops they include in their ranks such specimens as Thomas Buchanan, who campaigns for creationism to be taught in schools, condemns evolution as a “peddled lie” and proudly asserts that “the world was spoken into existence in six days by His power”; and Trevor Clarke, who until very recently believed that HIV was something that affected only gay people; and Sammy Wilson, who mind-bogglingly served as Northern Irish Environment Minister whilst denying the existence of climate change and dismissing the Paris agreement with Trumpian scorn as “window dressing for climate chancers”.
They have a medieval attitude towards women’s issues and gay rights, ensuring that that Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where abortion is illegal, and vetoing any move towards the legislation existing in the rest of the UK that allows same-sex people to get married. Former DUP politician Iris Robinson – whose hubby Peter served as Northern Irish First Minister for several years – once described homosexuality as an ‘abomination’ and prescribed psychiatric treatment as a cure for it. “Just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ,” she reasoned, heart-warmingly, “so can a homosexual…” I hope some journalist tackles out-and-proud lesbian Ruth Davidson about what she thinks of her boss in London climbing into bed with Robinson’s party.
I’m from Northern Ireland originally so I know it’s futile hoping for religion and politics to be kept apart in the province. But even if you forget their religiosity and focus purely on their performance as politicians, the DUP are useless. Their disdain for environmental issues didn’t stop them running the disastrous Renewable Heat Incentive or ‘cash-for-ash’ scheme, encouraging folk to switch from fossil fuel to biomass heating systems; which not very smartly meant that claimants could get £1.60 back for every £1 they spent. Hence, crafty local farmers were soon rushing to install biomass heating in empty sheds. This happened while current DUP First Minister Arlene Foster was running Northern Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and is believed to have cost the taxpayer £400 million.
And then there’s the tale of the DUP receiving a £425,000 donation from dodgy sources, of which £282,000 was subsequently spent on funding a ‘vote leave’ advertisement in the Metro newspaper during the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum. The Metro isn’t even published in Northern Ireland. Soon after the vote, and despite her own party backing Brexit, DUP Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen went scuttling off to Brussels to plead for continued EU support for Northern Irish farmers – a shameless act of grovelling hypocrisy.
But the most entertaining instance of DUP duplicity and corruption is, of course, the 2009 scandal involving Iris Robinson and a man nearly 40 years her junior. Robinson not only had an extramarital affair with him but also illegally procured some £50,000 to help him out with a business project. Needless to say, this turned the supposedly God-fearing and holier-than-thou Robinson into a figure of ridicule. And with a name like ‘Mrs Robinson’, she was really asking for trouble.
© Irish News
Right, that’s enough politics for now. I’m seriously depressed. The UK has become the equivalent of a clown-car, trundling towards Brexit, with the beleaguered Theresa May and those idiots in the DUP at the steering wheel. The only way this scenario might change is if May gets usurped by her party, which isn’t known for showing mercy towards failed leaders. But if that happens, her replacement is likely to be Boris Johnson – and substituting Boris for May is like treating an open wound by pouring sulfuric acid into it.
So there’ll be no more politics in Blood and Porridge for a while. Unless they decide to clear up the shambles caused by this election by holding another bloody one next week.