French Lessons for the UK?

Simon Smith

After the latest electoral bombshell in France, I can’t help thinking there are implications for the UK, although at this stage it’s tough to know exactly what they are.  France was a bombshell, in as much that the second round will not contain any candidate from the established political landscape that have dominated for decades.  Instead, there will be someone who has never held political officer before. Sound familiar?

This follows on from the sea changes we’ve seen over recent years, from the Arab Spring back in 2011 through to Brexit and the US election result. I feel uncomfortable when the media, straight off the bat of the UK election announcement last week, was predicting an election landslide for the incumbent Conservative Party,  who have been the dominant party of the UK in the post-war period.  That makes me uncomfortable. Today, whilst the Labour Party and others were out campaigning, the BBC reported that the Conservatives were doing virtually nothing; thinking that silence and letting Corbyn dig his own grave was the best policy, but that also looks dangerous.  Remember, Corbyn entered the rate at 66 to 1 odds to become leader. The past 6 years is littered with upsets.

The electoral system in the UK is always presented as the caveat.  It’s all well and good, but the system whereby the winning candidate from each of the 650 or so constituencies goes to form the Westminster government means that the votes of the losing candidates are ‘wasted’. Thus a party could receive more than 10% of the vote and still have just 1 MP in Westminster, as was the case for UKIP in 2015.

I’m not saying I know the answer for the UK election, but I am saying look at the past 6 years. The trend is too strong to ignore.  Add to this the fact that this election will invariably be mixed up with sentiment surrounding Brexit, a landslide for the incumbent Tories looks too ‘predictable’ to come to fruition.

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