Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.
Topics: Marco Rubio’s close ties to billionaire Norman Braman; UK election results discussion. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: May 11th, 2015.
– Has presidential candidate and US Senator Marco Rubio crossed an ethics line with his billionaire patron, Norman Braman?
– What if anything does the 2015 UK election outcome mean for Labour’s future? Should US Democrats take any lessons one way or the other?
Episode 127 (49 min):
– Guardian: “2015 UK general election results in full”
– AFD: “Marco Rubio’s Miami Vice”
– NYT: “Billionaire Lifts Marco Rubio, Politically and Personally”
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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”
And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.
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According to current exit polling from the UK, the Conservatives surged way ahead of pre-election polling and will finish just 10 seats short of a majority. With Lib Dems, far-right UKIP, and conservative unionist Northern Irish parties supporting, they would be able to form a government. The Lib Dems got crushed but still are kingmakers — which is toxic for them since so many LD voters bailed because of their role in the coalition government last time, which would be even less powerful this time around. In fact, the Conservatives seem well positioned to just form a minority government, though I don’t know how long it could last even under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.
Labour got all but swept in Scotland by the SNP (i.e. maybe one seat remains) and lost in England to add insult to desperation. They ended up finishing worse than in 2010, contrary to all pre-election polling.
Bottom line from the current exit polling: Conservatives outperformed expectations by quite a lot and will probably lead the next government. Labour screwed up badly on top of their Scotland problems.
UK party leaders making firm promises about coalition arrangements (or rejected arrangements) that they mathematically can’t possibly keep are one way voters lose all trust in their public officials. I get that they’re trying to discourage splinter/protest voting by taking a hard line without wiggle room before the election, but the math just isn’t there to be saying stuff like this, and at a certain point it’s just pure misrepresentation of reality.
Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders in the past couple weeks have been painting themselves into a corner on coalition promises, wherein they’ll either force a 2nd election or have to dynamite the corner to escape the foolish pre-election promises.
If the Labour Party will not make any kind of deal with the SNP (which is their latest position) and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats won’t either, how exactly is anyone supposed to form a government? Excluding the fairly astronomically unlikely possibility of a Conservative-Labour grand coalition, no two parties (or even three!) will have enough seats for a majority without involving the SNP. Everyone will be 20-50 seats short.
Projected number of seats to each party and combinations of various parties via The Guardian. Click to enlarge.
Are you going to throw this over to Northern Ireland to pick the PM? (Is that really better than letting Scotland do it?) Are you going to force new elections? What’s the realistic game-plan here?
The campaign for the May 2015 general elections is officially under way now in the United Kingdom. And barring a huge swing between now and the election, the results are going to be chaos.
Below are the March 30th projections from The Guardian’s election center (updated daily at the link)
Labour are campaigning hard against the SNP (to try to regain marginally SNP-leaning constituencies in Scotland), but that will make it harder to work together after the election. Which is an important consideration, seeing as they’re basically the only two parties that will collectively have anywhere near a majority.
And the Lib Dems seem pretty averse to working with Labour and the SNP, but they can’t easily go back to the Conservatives either.
The Conservatives may well finish first but (under current polling) have basically no shot of leading a government anyway, even with UKIP and the Lib Dems and the DUP. I mean…unless they’re planning to go into coalition with Labour or the SNP, which is beyond unlikely.
So that means…a big swing in favor of either Labour or the Conservatives is probably the only thing now that can prevent a totally bananas outcome or an irredeemably hung parliament.
Remember the good old days of 2014, when Nigel Farage pretended UKIP wasn’t a racist party and insisted everyone should pretend along with him? Those days are over, per this very exhaustive column by an anti-discrimination campaigner, charting the slide over the past two years from running on British “sovereignty” (whatever that means) toward openly racist political campaigns:
When asked by a Channel 4 documentary if there should be a law against discrimination on the grounds of race or colour in a ‘Ukip Britain’, the Ukip leader replied emphatically: “No.” Despite some attempts at backtracking, he has maintained he would axe many of our race discrimination laws.
Then it just devolves from there.
I’d also observe however that Farage’s positions highlighted in the piece — anti-immigrant, race-baiting, opposing discrimination protection laws — are actually the same as those of mainstream Republican leadership thought here in the United States.
And UKIP, which this time around still aren’t expected to capture more than a handful of seats, is having a similar effect on the Conservative Party in Britain as the embedded Republican far-right has in the United States: dragging even the theoretically sane and non-bigoted people toward oblivion in an effort to stave off electoral demise and irrelevancy. It’s simply more noticeable in countries like the United Kingdom or the rest of the European Union when it’s a separate party articulating everything openly and proudly … and winning significant vote share and even seats.
I’m honestly not sure whether it’s more dangerous to have the crazy faction hiding inside the mainstream party or out in the open as a separate party in the legislative body. It’s actually probably easier to sideline and dismiss them when they operate as a separate party than when they’re skulking around the major center-right party’s inner workings.
Whether it comes from a Democrat or a Labour member, I’m always glad to hear someone vocally explain what distinguishes a mainstream left-leaning party from the alternatives, after so many years of “triangulation” and wishy-washy hedging.
Here’s an excerpt from Glasgow City Council Leader Gordon Matheson’s column in the Daily Record jokingly headlined “The Labour Party is up to its old tricks – standing up for working families”
Have you noticed that the Labour Party is up to its old tricks? I’m delighted to say it’s true. We’re making the wealthiest pay a bit more to help those who need support. And we’re holding the powerful to account to secure a fairer deal for the ordinary citizen and working families. That, after all, is what distinguishes Labour from the other political parties.
Policies to help young people and tax wealthier citizens to pay for progressive programs benefiting the working class are described and detailed thereafter. He also questions the leftist credentials of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in light of their tax policies, which he says don’t favor redistribution. (Since they’re independence focused, I think most of the SNP’s funding plans derive from using North Sea oil royalties or tax revenues extracted from England to fund projects in Scotland, which is its own kind of redistribution, I suppose.)
It would be nice to hear more Democrats arguing non-defensively (like Matheson for Labour) about helping “ordinary citizen and working families” get “a fairer deal” via taxes on the wealthiest, i.e. those who can comfortably afford it.
In a further sign that the typically marginal Northern Ireland members of the United Kingdom parliament might increasingly play a “coalition kingmaker” role after the breakdown of the three-party system in London, the UK Labour Party is relaxing its policy against competing in Northern Ireland constituencies.
That policy was originally adopted back when the party wanted to remain a neutral mediator in the Northern Ireland conflict over British/unionist or Irish/independence alignment (and forcing people to identify with a UK party based in Britain would inherently not be neutral). Now, an official satellite party (like Scottish Labour) will formally open in Northern Ireland, but with the extra wrinkle that it will also be a satellite of the Irish Labour Party, from neighboring Ireland.
The aim of this complex, multi-country fusion is probably eventually to help Labour in overall UK elections while still not demanding unionist allegiance from members. In the past, Labour’s general economic views have been represented in Westminster for Northern Ireland voters most closely by the tiny SDLP, but the SDLP was not part of Labour governments. Membership in UK Labour wasn’t even opened in Northern Ireland until 2004.
Map of UK general election results in Northern Ireland by constituency for 2005 and 2010 (via Wikipedia). NI Sinn Féin does not occupy its seats under current policy, due to opposition to the union’s control of Northern Ireland.
UK Labour’s counterpart party from the Republic of Ireland (a completely independent nation-state, of course), Irish Labour, is a rather small party in the Oireachtas (Ireland’s parliament) but very often serves as a junior coalition partner and is currently actually the second largest by representation.