2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

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Lemur
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2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by Lemur »

I have lately been following British politics which has been an interesting exercise because I have seen some high-level parallels with U.S. political situations (leanings towards authoritarianism, anti-immigration, etc.).

However, I must be in some kind of bubble because I read Reddit too much (and admitingly too many headlines). I know this because I was caught off totally by surprise that the Tory's won and gained majority:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Unit ... l_election

Anyone who follows British politics want to chime in and educate me... This one astounds me the most. The majority of British citizens, from what I've seen, love the British National Healthcare Service (NHS) so...why in the world would they vote for the Tory's who, from what I've seen, want to dismantle most of the socialized institutions? Secondly, why do Tory supporters want Brexit so badly? Or better yet, why do the opposition party support the EU? Do the British have their own version of Russian election interference?

Am I correct when I say that our Republicans are basically Tory's and our Democrats are basically the Labour Party equivalent? (though, I think the Labour Party is basically what our "far left" is on the political spectrum)

tonyedgecombe
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by tonyedgecombe »

Labour like to use the NHS as a weapon against the Tories however despite them being in government far more since its formation it is still there. This election was interesting because the Tory leader didn’t hide from that, he made a number of visits to hospitals during the campaign and made big promises about capital and operational spending.

The main opposition had a rather confused approach to Brexit, although he said otherwise it was obvious their leader was in favour of it.

Mostly though I think the message was too left wing, we tend to be a little further to the right than most European countries although nowhere close to the US.

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Lemur
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by Lemur »

@tonyedgecombe

I think you might be right. Just read this from the article posted:

"Johnson's primary aim in calling a snap election was to secure a majority in order to complete the process of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union by the new deadline of 31 January 2020. The Conservatives required an increase of at least 9 seats compared to their 2017 result to achieve this. While Brexit heavily dominated the campaign, other issues included social spending, Labour's plan for the re-nationalisation of British industries and the SNP's call for a second referendum on Scottish Independence."

I take it that part there in bold did not sit well with "independents" of Britain? Wondering if swing voters have the same pull in Britain as the U.S...In any case, from further reading - this election was by far a one issue vote (Brexit) and the Tory's were very clear with what they wanted while the Labour Party like you stated had mixed messaging and tried to use other domestic issues as its platform.

On another note:
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/13/snp-stu ... of-eu.html

chenda
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by chenda »

Imo Corbyn was also a man out of his depth, whatever his politics were. As noted Boris also has pledged more public spending on health to help carry working class votes, although that was by far secondary to Brexit.

None of this really resolves the crisis though. He'll have less than a year to negotiate a trade treaty with the EU, and possibly the rest of the world although the EU may effectively block that as they won't permit the UK to undercut them 'Singapore-on-Thames' style. It's possible Boris will just go for a soft Brexit with some hard Brexit window dressing. Much easier for him to do that now the UKIP lot have been rendered nul and void and he has large majority.

Tyler9000
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by Tyler9000 »

Lemur wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 2:02 pm
However, I must be in some kind of bubble because I read Reddit too much (and admitingly too many headlines). I know this because I was caught off totally by surprise that the Tory's won and gained majority
Yeah, Reddit is fundamentally broken when it comes to politics because political groups have figured out how to game the system to control narratives. For example, r/politics used to be an eclectic collection of Bernie bros and Ron Paul libertarians. But in 2016 a Clinton-affiliated PAC run by David Brock bought out the mods and replaced them with Hillary shills to astroturf support and delete anything that made her look bad. A lot of what passes as organic news on Reddit is just paid propaganda at this point. You should really branch out. Not everything is about nationalized healthcare and Russia!

According to one recent poll after the election, the top reason that previous Labour supporters voted against them this time was because of "leadership". Basically, Corbyn is toxic. The giant elephant in the room that has received a lot of well-deserved attention in the UK recently is rampant antisemitism in the Labour party starting at the top with Corbyn. I'm sure there are many more issues that UK residents can address, but that's a decent place to start when it comes to the anti-Labour arguments.

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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by jacob »

That's a +1 on avoiding all social or online media to get an informed view on politics.

In this decade, politicians (and their various political action groups, supporters, psy-ops, foreign state actors, etc. ... down to the "useful idiots" and shits'n'giggles level) have become increasingly sophisticated in their propaganda strategies.

Given the networked structure of social media it even allows for different sets of facts to exist in isolated bubbles with different narratives being constructed around various versions of facts. Sometimes apparent facts are simply made up lies. More often inconvenient facts are simply omitted. Online media platforms allow rapid and targeted deployment of different narratives, A/B testing them as they spread until the virality is fully distilled(*) for maximum shareability. Then it gets released into the greater eco-system. Basically throwing shit on the wall to see what sticks on human brains. Thus if you get your politics from social media, it will tend to be optimized for maximum emotional engagement (see your average meme and the people who share them); intellectual objectivity be damned. It's basically online advertising strategies being used on politics to get people to buy a certain mindset---what could possibly go wrong?

Any semblance of objectivity appears to be a lost strategy at this point and even politicians are giving up on the previous strategy which was to agree on the facts (shared objective reality) and repeat their own perspective as much as possible until people accepted it. This is similar to how the kind of advertising from 100 years ago that tried to make a rational argument of all the benefits of a given product are long gone. Now it's more about feels and affirming one's associations with one's in-group.

With different facts being able to exist in different bubbles as far as low-information voters are concerned, savvy politicians now focus on providing soundbites, emotional reactions, and even "alternative facts" for the various messaging services (memes, opinion pieces, talk shows, ...) knowing that most of their constituency is only looking for emotional affirmation. This leaves a lot of voters with strong opinions but no real idea what they are so opinionated about. Recall how "What is Brexit?" was the most common google search phrase after the election.

(*) Using the Semmelweis reflex to achieve the maximum amount of emotional confirmation bias.

Since being misinformed is far worse than being uninformed, I avoid politics on social media(**) as a source of input. Politics on social media is like a poker game in that if you don't know who the fish is, it's you ... with most people not realizing how they're being played. Again, not really that different from why the average person doesn't realize why they suddenly hungry for a snickers bar. It's the mental equivalent. Same tools.

(**) If a platform has functions for sharing or liking/upvoting, it's likely serving garbage when it comes to politics these days.

Now with this public service announcement we return to the regular programming about British politics.

JollyScot
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by JollyScot »

There are probably a couple of reasons that the Conservatives still won.


1st. The Brexit vote. It seems as though everyone who wanted to leave coalesced around the single party. Whereas those who were wishing to stay sort of split themselves across several of the other parties

Due to the UK having a first past the post system (winner take all) it meant that the leave voters managed to swing a large number of seats.


2nd. In the past Labour would win the majority of the seats in scotland 50+. However now they have basically been replaced by the SNP (scottish nationals) and as a result have an automatic -50 relative to where they were before.

Scotland still really don't like the Conservatives and really don't like the current crop. As such we are probably heading to some kind of battle over independence again. As for the Scots it is seen as we didn't want brexit and again we have a government no one wanted. This has been an ongoing issue for the last 40 years, I am not sure it is fixable at this point. Much like the EU fury that England went through Scotland has its own fury over UK government. Although the realities of what the EU "imposed" on UK vs what UK impose on Scotland is not at the same level.


3rd. Labour policies were just too much of a leap for a lot of people. The sheer amount of tax and spending rises and speed of them spooked a lot of people. The tax changes were fairly punitive for small businesses and professionals too. But did little to fix the underlying problems with hyper wealth skewing the country. It just prevents regular workers from obtaining wealth through work. "Super Rich" for them is anyone who earns over £125,000, which although good, you are not going to be a jet setter with that, ERE aside obviously.

Also the country really didn't have much time for Jeremy Corbyn. Haven't really from the start, in effect Labour has wasted 4 years with their "mission" as if you can't win with the current crop of conservatives I'm not sure how they ever will.


I'm not sure which of the two parties would have been the best winner. Conservatives are going to implement Brexit and have some worrying views on writing themselves out of judicial scrutiny. Labour was a pretty extreme industry nationalisation, state should do everything type of line. Essentially we were presented with two bags of shit and asked to choose. So the UK is not in a happy place just now about it. As now everyone is shouting about the huge mandate they have.

RealPerson
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by RealPerson »

JollyScot wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 4:30 am
Essentially we were presented with two bags of shit and asked to choose.
That reminds me of something.... Hopefully 2020 will be better, at least on the Democratic side.

guitarplayer
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Brexit & other British Political questions

Post by guitarplayer »

A brexit deal has been reached. Thoughts? Opinions?

Alphaville
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by Alphaville »

i've been out of the loop this round. what are the chances that it will be ratified? looks higher than with may, but i don't know the details.

what's the reaction in scotland and northern ireland?

Seppia
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Re: Brexit & other British Political questions

Post by Seppia »

guitarplayer wrote:
Fri Dec 25, 2020 5:05 am
A brexit deal has been reached. Thoughts? Opinions?
It’s a lose-lose proposition but there was no other possibility.
Both the UK and Europe will be a little poorer and a little weaker then they otherwise would have been, but the trend towards de-globalization seems like is here to stay unfortunately.

ducknald_don
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by ducknald_don »

Alphaville wrote:
Fri Dec 25, 2020 9:05 am
i've been out of the loop this round. what are the chances that it will be ratified? looks higher than with may, but i don't know the details.
I can't see it not going through, people are sick of it after four and half years.

What a pointless exercise (and I say that as someone who has gained financially from it).

JollyScot
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by JollyScot »

It will be voted through regardless of what is in it at this point. Both the UK parties have stated as much. There is not really enough time to go over in detail on whether it is. In addition the "opposition" here at the moment isn't doing much in the way of opposing. From the perspective that the whole this is not over that is at least good.

From the Scottish perspective it wouldn't matter what was in it. The current crop of scottish politicians are independence at all costs so they wil be angry regardless. Getting an agreement does cause the whole indpendence plan issues.

Want to leave the UK, but keep the £. Then join the EU and want to live and work in both EU and UK and have no borders between either. Unless the plan to play the terrorist card like Northern Ireland then I can't see independence happening. But the terrorist card won't work on a country that would be independent as opposed to part of already operating unions. So I don't think the border issue would be fixable for a new entrant to 2 larger players.

The UK leaving has made navigating it even more of a mess than what Brexit was. Main party that doesn't seem to understand that taxes from private sector is what pays for stuff. The above plan ignores the 9% budget deficit and their plan for this is...yeah it will be fine. I am not sure how they could retain skilled workers by voting for independence at this point.

So yeah Brexit is "done" but another mess is about to start for us I think.

chenda
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by chenda »

It seems Boris has essentially done a kinda-soft Brexit, in as much Britain will effectively have to bind itself to EU rules and regulations, but has robbed itself of any say over those rules. Exporters will face a torrent of absurd bureaucracy just to carry on exporting to the mainline. The Brexit extremists, once they've read the small print will oppose it, as they've become so utterly detached from reality. These are the people who thought the Irish border was a 'phantom issue' in the words of one particularly unhinged backbencher. But it will pass in parliament, if necessary with Labour votes.

The deal is pretty good for the EU though, as any deal would be. Because the EU is an economic superpower to rival China and the US and can essentially dictate the terms of the deal - and punish the UK if it floughts the terms of the deal. In some ways this is good for Britain, as labour rights and environmental standards will be harder to cut.

Ultimately I foresee the rapid break up of the UK, leaving an economically diminished rump state beset with social problems. Northern Ireland is effectively been kicked out of the UK, and will be a de facto EU state almost indistinguishable from the Irish Republic. (It'll be interesting to see how many unionists in the north forget their principles and opt for an Irish passport, of which they are entitled, to enjoy all the benefits of EU citizenship) The Ulster unionists really shot themselves in the foot by supporting Brexit, and will be the architects of their own downfall. Scottish succession will be increasing likely.

High tech industries like science and engineering, of which Britain in a world leader, are particularly vulnerable to decline as they will be excluded from the EU funding and talent pool. A sad end for the nation which started the industrial revolution and produced many of the greatest scientists, engineers and inventors in history.

I also predict France and Spain might levy a tax on foreign i.e. non - EU property owners. Iirc, a million Britons own property in the EU, and have just lost their automatic rights to do so. It'll be a nice little earner for Madrid and Paris. If they are EU residents, they're about to face a lot problems regarding residency and health care rights. And pet passports. It's the biggest cancellation of citizenship in history.

chenda
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by chenda »

@jollyscott - Whilst I think an independence Scotland could in theory prosper as a EU nation, I agree the border with England would be a nightmare to resolve. Remote, wild and mountainous it would be a smugglers paradise (as it was for centuries!) Enforcement costs alone would be a significant burden.

ducknald_don
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by ducknald_don »

There isn't much incentive for smuggling when we have agreed tariff free trade.

Personally I'm indifferent to what Scotland does but I suspect they could prosper over the long term just as the small Scandinavian countries have.

There are two things I'm willing to bet on. The first is the UK car industry has had its day, it will shrink to a fraction of its original size over the next decade. The other is Ireland will unify, again within a decade.

There were a couple of things I was surprised about in the agreement. Apparently we are going with our own regime on chemicals. This is interesting because the EU legislation came from the UK. I suspect that INEOS guy is responsible for that. The other is the health card scheme is continuing.

chenda
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by chenda »

Maybe but there will still need to be a hard border of some sort for regulatory compliance. But I agree Scandinavia offers a good model for an independent Scotland.

Whilst I think de facto integration of Ireland is inevitable, I'm not sure formal reunification will happen so soon. The Republic is wary of the instability of the north and will be reluctant to shoulder its huge policing and security budget. That said, westminster might also increasingly be reluctant to pay for it. Either way, the UK will be one of very few nations to have an internal customs border. China/Hong Kong is the only other which springs to mind.

UK-with-kids
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by UK-with-kids »

Lemur wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 2:02 pm
I was caught off totally by surprise that the Tory's won and gained majority:
Opinion polls usually underestimate the Tory/Conservative vote share. There is a concept called "Shy Tories" where their supporters keep quiet about their voting intentions. This is partly because of the vilification of right-wing opinions, but it's more long-standing than recent trends on social media. Perhaps it's that social justice warriors on the left are just more outspoken than "the silent majority" with moderate (right-wing) opinions.

Anyway, a similar thing happened in 1992 when John Major unexpectedly held onto power for the Tories. Then again in 2015 for example when all the commentators insisted that we were in for a "hung parliament" (i.e. no party having an absolute majority) but then David Cameron did win a small majority for the Tories. He famously said in his victory speech that people had got their predictions wrong because "Britain and Twitter - they're not the same thing".

As some others already replied, Jeremy Corbyn was a disastrous leader of the Labour Party. He was totally out of his depth and basically elected as their leader by mistake. He's at the extreme left-wing of the party, whereas what you need to do to win an election is conquer the centre ground and win the marginal constituencies. Being pictured with various terrorists over the last 30-40 years doesn't really help with that, even if you were a morally right pacifist before it was trendy.
Lemur wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 2:02 pm
This one astounds me the most. The majority of British citizens, from what I've seen, love the British National Healthcare Service (NHS) so...why in the world would they vote for the Tory's who, from what I've seen, want to dismantle most of the socialized institutions?
As somebody else replied, they went out of their way to convince people they weren't going to do that, as they knew the NHS is their Achilles heel.
Lemur wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 2:02 pm
Secondly, why do Tory supporters want Brexit so badly? Or better yet, why do the opposition party support the EU?
The history of the EU is that the British people voted by a 67% majority to join "the common market" in 1975, which was actually more than 2 years after Britain had already joined. Interestingly, it was a Tory initiative which Labour opposed (so the roles have reversed over time). Over the following decades political power also gradually shifted to the EU, notably with the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 which moved the EU towards ever closer monetary union. No further referenda were held to confirm this is what the British people wanted. There was much resistance to adoption of the Euro currency, and the UK has always kept the pound. Freedom of movement accelerated as more poorer countries joined the EU. For example, in 2004 Poland joined the EU and the population of Poles in the UK increased from under 100,000 to nearly 1 million in just over a decade. Many British people, particularly poorer and lower skilled workers, felt that this caused downward pressure on their own wages. There was also a cultural impact as whole towns adopted large Polish populations, sometimes as a majority.

Freedom of movement was great news for richer urban dwellers and those with capital. It enabled companies to hire more cheaply, and anecdotally it was felt that Polish people would work harder, take less time off sick and so on. It allowed the rich to hire domestic workers, but you could argue it prevented productivity gains in the economy as it was nearly always cheaper to rely on cheap labour than invest in new technology.

Anyway, in the popular press there were constant stories about bad EU laws, from the almost-a-joke of the laws on straight bananas, to the "Metric Martyr" who was prosecuted for selling fruit and vegetables in imperial measurements that elderly people could understand instead of European metric measures, to the constant complaints about the EU Human Rights Laws that seemed to protect the criminals more than their victims. These were all the popular narratives, not necessarily the truth. At this time I don't think many people were really openly in favour of the EU as such, it was just a fact of the world.

David Cameron called the referendum to try and finally slay the beast in his party that opposed all this, confident that he would win. Every big hitter was lined up to back the "Remain" cause - even Obama waded in to say Britain would join the back of the queue for a trade deal. Nobody on the Remain cause really made a case for the benefits of the EU, it was all about Fear of what would happen if we left. As we know, the Leave side won by 52%, and Remain side then spent years trying to overturn the decision (it makes me laugh that the same people now think Trump should graciously accept defeat). Some Remainers felt the Leave side had told some lies, notably about some money that could be spent on the NHS instead of the EU. And they printed this on the side of a bus. But the way I saw it, the case to leave the EU was very clear - ditch the huge and undemocratic institution of the EU but keep the trading arrangements - and it felt like popular opinion won the day despite some attempts to rig the result. And I think what's been achieved is precisely that - the Chairman of our largest supermarket Tesco has said this week that consumers will barely notice any changes from next year.
Lemur wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 2:02 pm
Do the British have their own version of Russian election interference?
No.
Lemur wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 2:02 pm
Am I correct when I say that our Republicans are basically Tory's and our Democrats are basically the Labour Party equivalent? (though, I think the Labour Party is basically what our "far left" is on the political spectrum)
Not really. I don't know enough about the American parties to properly answer this point though. The Labour Party was born out of the Trade Union movement and is definitely more left-wing. But under Tony Blair in the 1990s/2000s they moved more to the centre ground in order to win power. Once in power they were a disappointment to the Left in many ways, but they did carry out some left-wing policies such as introduce a minimum wage - which had unbelievably not existed until 1999. Nobody in Britain is in favour of gun ownership apart from armed robbers and drug dealers.

ducknald_don
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by ducknald_don »

That's a pretty good summary although I'd argue immigration had an outsized effect on the results. Without it the leave campaign would have lost by a large margin.

Also the EU is democratic, I know that because I voted in EU elections.

UK-with-kids
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Re: 2019 United Kingdom General Elections & other British Political questions

Post by UK-with-kids »

ducknald_don wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 12:38 pm
Also the EU is democratic, I know that because I voted in EU elections.
I should have said this was a perception. I too have voted in EU elections for the European Parliament, but European legislation is put forward by the European Commission which is not directly elected. The European Parliament does, however, have a say in whether legislation is enacted.

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