In a comment thread on this posting, the question came up, from the commenter “Laird”, as to why Samizdata has not written about the local UK/European Union elections. Part of the answer, for my part, is that a little bit of me dies whenever words such as “EU elections” come up, but also there has been a lot of commentary and head-scratching analysis, in the press and other blogs, on this issue for the past week or so. What could I say that has not been already said?
Anyway, for our non-UK readers who have not been following it, the ruling UK Labour Party did very badly in both the local UK elections and the European one. In the latter case, Labour came in third place (15 per cent of votes cast), behind the Tories and United Kingdom Independence Party respectively. UKIP is a party that wants the UK to leave the EU. I voted for it – partly because I did not want the Tories to get a larger share of the vote and hence get complacent, partly because I broadly agree with UKIP on things like cutting state spending and the EU. UKIP is not a hardline libertarian party but it is the best of a bad lot, generally. And I happen to know one of its MEP candidates, Tim Worstall – who is a member of the London bloggerati – and I always say it is a good idea to vote for someone you know, trust and like (I also know Syed Kamall, a Tory MEP, but just could not bring myself to vote Tory. Sorry Syed).
As for the aftermath, well, UK PM Gordon Brown has managed, by a mixture of party membership cowardice, shellshock, bullying and flimflam to persuade his colleagues in Parliament to give him another chance in the job. Labour has suffered the lowest share of the vote since the First World War, albeit on a very low turnout of voters. The national socialist British National Party, a party which, let it not be forgotten, holds to fairly hard-left views on economics, has picked up two seats in the European Parliament, and did so by playing fairly hard on the grievances of traditional Labour voters in run-down parts of the UK. There has often been a streak of “sod the foreigner” in the makeup of the UK left, although it has been tempered by a sort of transnational progressivism, at least from the Fabian middle classes who have provided Labour with some of its intellectuals (if that is not too grand a word to describe such people).
So there you have it – Britain is on course, if poll data are accurate, to have a Conservative government by the middle of next year, when a general election must be held. Europe has moved, politically, to the right, with concerns about immigration and economics driving some of that. But the UK Conservatives, while they have benefited from a mortally weakened government, have not convinced me that they have a serious intent to shrink the state. It may be that when or if David Cameron gets the keys to 10 Downing Street and has a chance to read the financial books, that the full horror of what he sees will necessitate spending cuts. We shall see.
And in the meantime, the US has, at least for a moment, moved to the left under Mr Obama, although for how much longer, it is premature to say (bring on the mid-term elections!). Ideologically, the Atlantic may be widening. We live, as they say, in interesting times.