Unfortunately, what the Church of England thinks is everybody’s business

News and Politics

You might have heard by now the Islam is the fastest growing religion in Britain, more than likely from a source who would consider the mere existence of that faith a somewhat frightening prospect. What most of them won’t tell you, however, is the reason for Islam being the fastest growing religion in Britain is that it is, in fact, the only growing religion in Britain.

Christianity has always had a peculiar relationship with the United Kingdom. In the year 1625, a man named Charles claimed his divine right and ruled as King of England, Scotland and Ireland. Then, twenty-four years and one civil war later, Charles was led by armed guards from London’s St James Palace to Whitehall, which is where they chopped his head off. For the next ten years, Britain was led by a man who, ironically despite officially not being a monarch himself, attempted to turn the country into what could perhaps be described as a 17th-century Christian version of Islamic State.

Oliver Cromwell, a staunch puritan, presided over an experiment during which he attempted to transform Britain into a different kind of society. All theatres had their doors forced shut. Most pubs and inns also. Doing any kind of work on a Sunday landed peasants in the stocks. Most holidays were banned, as well as most sports. Cooking food for Christmas was banned, alongside any other form of entertainment. Women were forbidden from donning colourful dress. Their men had to wear black. None of these rules applied to Cromwell and his cronies, of course, which largely explains how he managed to stay in power longer than a single weekend.

But then the bastard died, and everyone had long had enough. Parliament invited the dead King’s son back, with greatly reduced powers. The theatres opened again. Many a piss-up was held. Everyone got back to merely pretending that Christmas is all about Jesus. And all of a sudden, Britain’s grand experiment with piousness was forever over.

Christians love to feel persecuted, and today’s Church of England often likes to claim that its beliefs and systems are under siege. As of 2014, fewer than 800,000 Britons can be bothered to turn up to Church on an average Sunday. Despite making as much money as the British wing of McDonald’s, it struggles to maintain its giant network of fragile buildings, many of them found in isolated rural communities. It’s bad enough that most people from Brighton to Inverness have little time for God these days, but now the “Gay Agenda” ™ is after them too.

When civil partnerships for homosexual couples were introduced in 2004, Labours then Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, was quick to assure the religious community that this wasn’t going to end in the gays being able to actually marry… Oh imagine the horror. Then, when equal marriage was introduced by the coalition in 2013, the Tories made it clear that the Church of England would not be forced to oversee such hideous a contract.

But how foolish would one need to be to ever trust a politician, amright? And now here goes Justine Greening, Britain’s lesbian Education Secretary, daring to proclaim in a Sky News interview that “It is important that the church in a way keeps up (with social progress) and is part of a modern country.” The Spectator’s Melanie McDonagh thinks that Greening ought to “Mind her own business,” and I imagine she would include most other people in that as well. Why should the government be telling Churches how to behave anyway? If Anglicans don’t like homosexuality, or at least don’t want much to do with it, why should it be anyone else’s business to tell them otherwise? Isn’t this just another instance of those pesky totalitarian liberals trying to crush good old powerless conservatism?

Well, there are two things spectacularly wrong with that argument. The first is that it immediately assumes that Britain’s Anglicans are all a bunch of homophobes, the same dumb logic Tim Farron tried to employ when explaining why he couldn’t remain both a faithful Christian and the leader of a socially liberal political party. The second is that McDonagh, as well as anyone else making her argument, seemingly brushes aside the fact that the Church of England is not some completely impartial institution with no effect on anyone else’s business.

Why not start with the fact that Britain doesn’t really have the kind of wall of separation between church and state as does its cousin across the pond. The Church of England is Britain’s official religious body, and, frankly, I’d rather not have our great nation be represented by utterly regressive beliefs and policies. That hardly has any real world impact, however, so fine. Whatever. What does matter, however, is how the state spends its people’s taxes. Despite having a budget surplus in the billions, the Church of England uses its privileged status to demand the taxpayer fund upkeep for its properties, which the taxpayer does, to the tune of tens of millions of pounds. It also uses far greater numbers of taxpayer money to spread its propaganda across England’s “Free Schools.” I assume it isn’t terribly controversial to expect a certain degree of accountability to come from any organisation that expects to be subsidised by the public.

Not only does the Church receive public money, however, but its Bishops also sit in our upper house of parliament. There are twenty-five of them in the Lords, in seats reserved specifically for members of the Church of England. Now sure, there’s also an argument to be made here about our shamefully outdated upper house, but the point stands. What these people, who can vote on legislation that affects everyone in the country, think is, in fact, the business of every single person in Britain.

So here’s the deal. If the Church of England and its advocates want everyone to keep their noses out of their holy business, then it must also apply the same principles upon itself. It has to revoke its privileged position as the official church of the British state. It must cease to demand both public money, including that which funds religious schools, and any other benefits that come with said position. Further, it must give up its seats in parliament and totally separate themselves from the workings and functions of the British government. It must resign to the same legal status as any other church operating in the United Kingdom, be that the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Scientology, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster. So that’s it, take it or stop complaining.

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Do Labour Dare Hope? – Election Update

News and Politics

When the election was called, I made a number of predictions which now appear somewhat ill-judged. Foremost among these was an assumption that Labour’s vote share will likely decline before polling day. So far, the opposite has happened. While the Conservatives have been hugely bolstered by the near-total collapse of UKIP, Labour has also experienced a surge in the polls, seemingly at the expense of the Greens and more interestingly the Lib Dems and maybe also UKIP. A YouGov poll released today has the party on 38% (it’s highest since 2014) with the Conservatives down a few points to 43%. If this poll is not a freak outlier, as it still may very well be, then Labour have essentially closed within five points what was, when the election was called, a twenty point gap.

As much as I’d want this to be true, jubilation will have to wait until we get to see more polls, however, that being said, what is increasingly beyond doubt is that Labour has experienced a surge (the proportions of which are highly debatable) over the past few weeks.

The former Tory Leader, William Hague, once stated that his party has two modes: Panic and Complacency, and the latter I believe is now a significant factor behind recent developments. Personally, I don’t think that the Conservative Campaign is quite as bad as some say, largely because, just as in 2015, a significant part of it is invisible and focused on digital targeting, however, it is still pretty darn abysmal. It still shocks me that the same people behind Cameron’s 2015 surprise win are capable of running such a poor operation, although perhaps the spirit of complacency has gotten to their heads too.

I mean, gosh, where to begin? Theresa May seemingly looked at her initially giant poll lead and assumed that she could start drowning puppies on live television and still win in a landslide. She must have thought that the British public hated Corbyn and adored her so much that (perhaps as Thatcher had done decades earlier) she could get away with a number of deeply unpopular, albeit allegedly necessary, policies.

First, there was fox hunting, which is still a really big deal for some reason (I mean, honestly, aren’t schools and hospitals a little more important than the welfare of some occasionally cute mammals that shit on the lawn and eat your garbage?). Hunting is still vehemently opposed by the overwhelming majority of the UK population, and those that do like it would have voted Conservative anyway. And then there was the ‘Dementia Tax,’ a plan to fund social care by forcing the elderly to sell away their homes, as well as the end to the pension triple lock. It really shows just how certain the Tories were of victory that they dared to attack the elderly (the one part of the population that is certain to vote).

Meanwhile, encouraged by her high approval ratings, Theresa May decided to run her campaign as if it were a Presidential run. Conservative branding was stripped from party literature in the North of the country, instead replaced with talk of “Theresa’s candidates” and “Theresa’s Team,” while actual policy substance was disregarded. Last year, another female politician tried a similar strategy against an anti-establishment outsider with solid, populist, messaging… It didn’t go well. Meanwhile, the lack of returns from the overwhelming focus on Brexit has shown what I’ve believed to be the case for a while – That Brexit is nowhere near as important of an issue to most people as pundits believe. Most Britons think that that battle has already been fought and now just want the government to get on with it, and therefore Labour’s strategy of largely ignoring the issue while focusing on domestic policy was probably the correct decision.

Speaking of Labour, and of policy – To seemingly everyone’s surprise, the party has been running a very good campaign. Messaging so far has been solid, and capable of penetrating into minds of those who don’t stay up at night thinking about politics. Popular policy pledges have been consistently repeated on radio and television, and they seem to be getting through. A recent YouGov survey has asked voters about what they perceived to be the main policies of the two parties. For Labour, the top two are scrapping tuition fees and increasing NHS funding. For the Conservatives, the ‘Dementia Tax’ and “Going ahead with Brexit.” While, in the wake of the Manchester attack, the Tories still lead on issues of defence and security, perhaps Labour’s message about cuts to police budgets under the current government may also have a positive effect. Corbyn himself has done a rather good job so far, and while most voters still really don’t like him, perhaps he’s a negative factor which increasing numbers of them are willing to overlook. So yeah, to my surprise, the Labour operation has managed to find within itself a healthy dose of competence.

And then we come to the Lib Dems, the one party who seemingly had little to lose and everything to gain from this election. Personally, I expected them to make modest gains, unlike some who apparently expected Tim Farron to become the Leader of the Opposition. However, even that seemed to have been too optimistic. To the surprise of most, including myself, who expected moderate Labour voters and some pro-remain Tories to defect to the Lib Dems, the opposite has happened. Former Lib Dem supporters who voted for the Tories in 2015 have barely moved, while considerable numbers of the party’s remaining backers have switched to Labour. Now there is even talk of Nick Clegg losing his seat in Sheffield.

UKIP’s collapse is a peculiar phenomenon, and I have a strange feeling that it may not necessarily be the godsend that the Tories expect. The predominant belief right now is that those seeking to predict individual constituency results should simply take at least half of the UKIP vote and give it to the Conservative candidate. I think that’s a huge oversimplification because it completely ignores regional context. UKIP’s 2015 vote can be largely split into two groups. Former Tories who were angry about the European Union, and former Labour and BNP voters who were angry about immigration. The former group, who largely reside in the South, are obviously going to go back to the Conservatives now that Brexit is dealt with. However, the latter group, who largely reside in the North, is a far more open question. Many of those people really do not like the Tories, and never did. They are the reason that Paul Nuttall feels obliged to bang on about the NHS, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they either stick with UKIP or maybe even go back to Labour. Therefore, the result would be Theresa May piling up extra votes where she doesn’t need them while Labour clings on to its heartlands.

Now for some caveats. While current polling trends are good for Labour, actual election results are not. The local elections on the 5th of May made for grim reading, however, that was before Labours apparent surge towards the end of the month. Secondly, there is also a danger of Labour piling up votes in safe seats, as YouGov’s regional polling might suggest. Go and ask Hillary Clinton about how an absurdly unrepresentative voting system can make irrelevant one’s national support. Thirdly, once polls start predicting a tighter race, Conservative fear tactics about a Corbyn-led government propped up by a “Coalition of Chaos”, a prospect most only recently thought impossible, will be far more effective. Fourth, polls almost always overestimate Labour’s support – that may very well be what we’re seeing now. Fifth, there are still two weeks to go, so expect CCHQ and their (plenty) allies in the media to go absolutely nuts.

Perhaps that Conservative landslide which we thought inevitable might not be such as foregone conclusion after all. If Theresa May comes away with a majority similar in scope to what she possesses now, don’t be surprised to see her ousted as leader of her party even before Jeremy Corbyn.

 

 

 

 

Candidate Zuckerburg is Terrifying

News and Politics

Zuck 2020?

Mark Zuckerberg is up to something and it’s creeping the hell out of me. I get it, he’s an interesting guy, so perhaps the social media titan’s new years resolution to meet people in all 50 of America’s states is nothing remotely nefarious. Then again, I’m hardly convinced. In late April, the Facebook CEO decided to pay a visit to a Trump-voting family in the crucial swing state of Ohio, a move which has pre-election canvassing written all over it.

And oh, would you look at that! Zuckerburg no longer considers himself an Athiest. Now, again, perhaps I’m reading far too much into this but… Godamn isn’t this all just so convenient. Being non-religious has long been and remains one of the greatest impediments to attaining elected office in the United States, so do forgive me for drawing doubt over the 33-year-old billionaire’s newfound faith.

If going around meeting working-class Americans while making himself more electable isn’t enough, last year Facebook found itself hit by a lawsuit after plans to amend its stock structure would have granted Zuckerburg far greater control of the company. That was last April. In December, unsealed court filings revealed that Zuckerberg and two board members had discussed the prospect of a political career while at the same time as retaining his position as founder and CEO. According to The Guardian, Marc Andreessen, the 45-year-old investor, texted him in March 2016 to say that the “Biggest issue” of the proposal was “How to define the gov’t service thing without freaking out shareholders.”

Ok, so, Mark Zuckerburg, the 33-year-old with a net worth of over 60 billion US dollars is potentially planning a political run while also remaining in control of a social media network which is used by over 50% of Americans every single day. Now, if that doesn’t immediately terrify you, please understand that Zuckerburg possesses the two most crucial resources for any wannabe US President: Money and data, and more than anyone else who’s ever even considered that position.

There’s already a reason why the vast majority of political advertising is on Facebook. Elections are becoming more and more about big data and no other network has anywhere near as many users and anywhere near as much information on those users than Zuckerburg’s does. Given enough cash, current political campaigns can already use the site to advertise to very specific types of people living in very specific places – For example, single 18-24-year-old female renters living in Cleveland, Ohio. However, just imagine the kind of targeting and manipulation that is possible if said campaign has access to the back door?

In 2012, Facebook successfully conducted a massive study in which it was able to change individual people’s emotions by manipulating the order of posts on their home page. By editing the traffic of information supplied to its users, the company was literally able to change the way they think – and that was five years ago. Now, Facebook has two billion users – an even more impressive figure when you consider the fact that it’s still blocked in China. Now, not only do 50% of Americans use the service every day but it now also constitutes their primary source of news. It is certainly no exaggeration to assume that such technology can be used to manipulate public opinion on a terrifying scale, whether it is to sell a product, spark a revolution, or get its CEO elected as the most powerful person on Earth.

The Tory Stealth Campaign 

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It is now a well-known meme in politically aware circles that the Conservative Party is running what appears to be the most boring and stage-managed campaign in all of British history. Theresa May, like Catherine the Great on her visit to Crimea, is currently being ferried around the country to speak to small crowds of Tory Party activists where she will deliver the same repetitive sound bytes for twenty minutes before being bundled back into her car and sped along to the next empty shed or car park or whatever.

Obviously, that’s quite easy to make fun of, just as easy as it is to mock the repetitive focus group-tested phrases which Lynton Crosby has ordered Conservative politicians to utter every other sentence (“Strong and stable/ coalition of chaos/ strengthen my hand…”). However, I feel like it should be worth reminding everyone that you (a politically savvy individual who browses Twitter, watches Newsnight and has already made their mind up) are not the target audience. Most people aren’t sad little nerds like us, instead, as Jim Messina likes to say, they only think about politics for approximately four minutes every week. According to YouGov, most of the British public still don’t even recognise the “Strong and stable” line, much less Labour’s “For the many, not the few,” so don’t expect to stop hearing it anytime soon.

As for hiding away from voters, well, that’s probably the future. For your candidate to actually show up to a rally and meet “Real” people might be very noble, but it’s terrifically inefficient. I mean, what’s the profit? How many people can you actually fit in a half-empty car park, and how many of them are undecided voters as opposed to committed party loyalists? How many working mothers will take the time out of their day to stand in the cold and listen to a speech by some posh twat from Sussex?

On the other hand, think about the dangers. “Real” people are unpredictable. They might even walk up to your guy or gal and ask them a super awkward question or shout about how their husband had to wait seven hours in the A&E. Nah, it’s clearly much safer to prepare snippets of focus-tested propaganda and target it at where undecided voters actually hang out (Music Radio, Ten O’clock News, Facebook, Papers etc).

Emmanuel & Brigitte

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So France has itself a new President, one whom I actually rather like. Macron is like a Liberal Donald Trump – in the sense that he’s a long-time member of his nation’s respective elite who’s somehow managed to win an election on the premise of being a maverick outsider.

Anyway, one rather curious aspect of Macron’s campaign was the public fascination, both within France and beyond, to the fact that he’s married to his former school teacher, Brigitte, a woman 24 his senior. Basically, anyone with an axe to grind against both Macron and the “Evil Globalist Liberal Establishment” he apparently represents has used the fact to smear the new French President as really really weird, while also claiming that he’d get on his knees before the 62-year-old Merkel.

Now, look, I’m usually the kind of person to roll my eyes when people go on about sexism and Western political discourse but, well, come on. Let’s imagine for a moment that it was Emmanuel who was 24 years older than his wife. Would anyone care? No, of course, they wouldn’t. As a society, we’ve long ago come to accept that anyone from Tom Cruise to Rupert Murdock to some sweaty Russian Oligarch can happily marry a woman born over two decades before them. But oh! What’s this? A young, good looking politician I don’t like has a significantly older partner? Well… Then he must be gay, or perhaps is having an affair with his thirty-something step-daughter. No, honestly, shove it.

“Brexit Cannot Be A Success” – Why A Deal Between Britain and the EU Probably Won’t Happen

News and Politics

If you haven’t heard by now, Jean-Claude Junker, the President of the European Commission, had dinner at Downing Street with May and her chief negotiators last week – and then leaked the details to the German press. Essentially, it’s a culmination of what we already largely knew: The UK is unwilling to pay any substantial ‘divorce settlement’ and the European Union does not want Brexit to be a success. Shocker!

Clearly, this was already obvious to anyone who understands the people involved and the interests they happen to represent. “Brexit cannot be a success,” as Junker himself said, because such an outcome is contradictory to the EU’s long-term goal of, well, continuing to exist. One shouldn’t require much explanation as to why the union simply cannot allow a member state to exit on terms which are even relatively equal to those that it enjoyed inside. Britain will either leave on a deal which involves considerable financial compensation to the block or without a deal at all. Moderate Brexiteers, those that delusionally hoped for both sides to come to a mutually beneficial agreement, will come out in droves to explain why that simply isn’t fair but, well, what on Earth did you expect? The only outcome which benefits the European Union is the one in which the European Union doesn’t suffer an existential crisis, and where Britain gets hammered as a warning to other potential defectors. Tad mean? Sure. Kind of resembles a Mafiosi protection racket? Uh huh. Welcome to the real world sunshine.

Now, if Britain happened to be lead by individuals willing to compromise, then a deal could still potentially be struck. A bad deal, sure, but still better than no deal at all. Still better than us crashing out of the European Union and the Single Market with no transitional period and then having to conduct business with our single largest trading partner on WTO terms. Unfortunately, I’m quite sure that’s exactly the direction we’re heading in because Theresa May has decided to fill her top team with hardcore Brexiteers to whom the prospect of Britain completely severing ties with the EU isn’t even all that frightening. A “Clean” or a “Hard” Brexit is precisely what David Davis (The Secretary of State for Leaving The European Union) and Liam Fox (The Secretary of State for International Trade) have campaigned on for years. Their children are unlikely to be affected by cuts to state schools or rising food prices, and their taxpayer-funded second homes in SW1 will ensure that the ever rising cost of rent will similarly be an issue that only the plebs will have to concern themselves with.

So no, I don’t think there will be much resembling a deal at the end of the, absurdly short, two-year negotiation period, or at least the chances of us reaching one are more or less whatever odds you assign to Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minster on the 9th of June.

I wouldn’t expect Theresa May and the Conservatives to suffer too much politically from such an outcome, or at least not for a long while. A narrative is already being set by the right-wing tabloid press which continues to exert an ungodly influence over British politics. If, or when, the negotiations fail, two camps will be entirely at blame. One will be the unreasonable men in Brussels, of course, who refused to ignore their own political interests in order to ensure that Britain is punished. The second recipient of blame will be far more frightening. It will be the “Saboteurs,” the “Remoaner” fifth column which did nothing but “talk Britain down,” and the foreigners who keep stealing all the jobs that nobody else wants. And a considerable part of the population will continue to drink the kool-aid because they couldn’t possibly have been wrong and because confirmation bias continues to be a powerful force. After a while, as the economic consequences begin to hit home and the opposition gets its house in order, opinion will shift, but only then.

***

Okay, so as I was in the middle of writing this, Theresa May decided to step outside of number 10 and give a rather extraordinary speech. Not only, she said, had “The European Commission’s negotiating stance hardened” but that “Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials.” Furthermore, she claimed that “All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election that will take place on 8 June.”

There are two things to be said about that statement. Firstly, it’s brilliant electioneering. May has practically implied that a vote for any party other than the Conservatives is a vote for Brussels and Jean-Claude Junker. A vote for the Conservatives, therefore, is a vote to tell that sleazeball and his cronies where to shove it. A vote against continental meddling in our affairs.

Secondly, however, the claim that European politicians and officials are actively seeking to influence the result of June’s election is both absurd and simultaneously dangerous. To make such dramatic accusations against the very people on who’s ‘goodwill’ Britain’s long-term future depends is an outright act of national self-harm. Theresa May will get her majority all right. It will probably be very big. However, as did Cameron when he called the Referendum in the first place, she is trashing her nation’s future for the relatively short term benefit of the Conservative Party. Whoever wrote that speech should be given a bloody medal; before being sent straight down to hell.

 

Briefly About The TV Debates – Why They Won’t Happen and Why Corbyn is Right Not to Take Part

News and Politics

So, according to recent polling, the majority of the British public want Theresa May to take part in a live TV debate ahead of the upcoming election. Regardless, she is still insistent on refusing. A lot of people are somewhat cross at her and seem to think that sharing Change.org petitions will force the PM to change her mind, which it goes without saying is a little silly. Then, today, Labour announced that Jeremy Corbyn won’t be attending any debate if May doesn’t do so either after BBC and ITV expressed a desire to go ahead without her. It goes without saying that, with both the PM and the Leader of the Opposition missing, there probably won’t be any TV debates after all.

That might be a shame, since these things are always pretty fun, but, I’d briefly like to explain why I think that:

  1. Theresa May’s refusal to take part is terrifically obvious
  2. Corbyn’s decision to not attend a debate without her is actually the right one.

Firstly, unlike the USA, the UK does not have a history of televised election debates. In fact, they’ve previously only happened in 2015 and 2010. That aside, May was never going to allow herself to be dragged into one because, to put it bluntly, she sucks at media and, unlike Cameron, has an opinion poll lead large enough to essentially warrant telling the broadcasters to go fuck themselves. May has nothing substantial to gain from a TV debate and a lot to lose, so the obvious response is to avoid it.

In 2001, when the Labour government had a similarly massive poll lead, William Hague (the Tory leader) practically begged Blair for a debate. However, Labour’s election wizards rightfully concluded that it simply wasn’t worth the risk. Blair, who was far better at media and debating than Theresa May, then won his second landslide and everyone moved on.

In 2010, when polls were on a knife’s edge, the first general election debate in British history was held, the star of which ended up being neither David Cameron nor Gordon Brown but Nick Clegg, the charismatic new Liberal Democrat leader. As a large portion of the electorate at the time was both sick of Labour and still wary of the Conservatives, Clegg and the Lib Dems proceeded to rise spectacularly in the polls. TV election debates almost always benefit the underdogs. 

But why shouldn’t Corbyn take part? Surely, if May doesn’t show up, that will give the opposition a very good platform to hammer the government? No. It won’t. Instead, it will probably result in the best case scenario for the Conservatives. This already happened before. In 2015, a second debate was held between all the major opposition parties after Cameron refused to come. The event descended into chaos as the opposition leaders quickly came to resemble the very “Coalition of chaos” that Conservative propoganda was warning the public about, with all the polls and pundits predicting a hung parliament.

So no, Corbyn shouldn’t show up to any debate if May is “Empty chaired.” That’s exactly what Crosby and CCHQ want.

An Open Letter to Kyle Kulinski – The Political Spectrum is Highly Relative

News and Politics

For those unaware, Kyle Kulinski is an American political pundit who hosts the progressive online radio show Secular Talk. Now, I don’t typically write these kinds of “Response” pieces, however, considering the fact that I happen to be a fan of Kyle, and generally happen to agree with his views, I feel it appropriate to make this short post concerning a recent segment he made on the French Presidential election.

As far as American politics are concerned, Kyle is firmly on the left of their political spectrum. He supported Bernie Sanders in last year’s US election and is currently involved in Justice Democrats, a movement aimed at kicking out of the Democratic Party the sorts of people that vote against lowering drug prices for their constituents while sucking up to Middle-Eastern despots. Pretty fair stuff.

Now, as far as that aforementioned segment on France is concerned, Kulinski expressed regret that their next President will be either a “Far-Right Neofascist” (Le Pen) or an “Uber-Capitalist disaster” (Macron). Frankly, this took me somewhat by surprise, because Kyle is far from oblivious to the fact that what constitutes as left and right in Europe is somewhat radically different to how that spectrum is viewed in the United States. In fact, while often using Nordic and Western European countries as examples of sensible Social Democracy, he previously stated that had he lived in Europe, his political alignment would be somewhat close to their relative centre.

For those who know a decent bit about politics, that makes complete sense. The “Political Revolution” which Bernie Sanders campaigned for was first and foremost a fight for free universities, getting corporate money out of campaigns, and universal healthcare. In that case… mission accomplished! All three of those things are a fact of life in the French Republic and are not in any way on Macron’s chopping block.

As far as Europe goes, France is among the most left-leaning nations on the continent, meaning that a Centrist such as Macron over there would likely be viewed as a nutjob radical in America – since a great deal of that country still presumes that anyone to the left of Mussolini is obviously a Communist.

There was a candidate distinctly to the left of Macron in the first round of the French election, and Kyle does mention him as someone he would be likely to endorse. Now, I’m going to give Kulinski the benifit of the doubt and assume he doesn’t know that Jean-Luc Melenchon wants to slap a 100% income tax on those earning a little over 300,000 Euros. If he does, well, then maybe he doesn’t quite know where the centre-ground of European politics actually lies.

France is a nation in dire need of economic reform, and Macron’s candidacy ensures that the person delivering that reform will not instead be Francios Fillon, a man often cited as the French version of Margaret Thatcher. Modern France actually makes a rather good comparison to 1980s Britian – a nation in dire need of economic overhaul, but also one whose ultra-powerful unions fight every attempt at reform by grinding the country to a standstill; reforms which, by the way, are often attempted by its left-wing governments. Hopefully, in Macron, the French finally have someone with the guts to push a reformist agenda through, while doing so in a way which avoids gutting their public services (as happened in Thatcher’s Britain). French Presidents have made such promises for decades, only to succumb to strikes and unrest, but here’s hoping for the best.

Anyway, if you end up reading this, Kyle, I hope you can see that a Centrist in France is not nessesarily the same as Hillary Clinton.

 

 

Can Labour Avoid Total Catastrophe? – Electoral Predictions For June

News and Politics

As I wrote on this blog yesterday, the snap election on June 8th will end with Theresa May securing a very comfortable majority, which should be rather obvious to everybody. The only question is exactly how large will that majority be? I mentioned some historical parallels the other day, so perhaps that’s not the worse place to start. In 1983, the last time when Labour was both in opposition and this far behind in the polls, it ended up with 209 seats – pretty bad, but only approximately 30 less than what the party commands now. However, the electoral map today looks significantly worse for Jeremy Corbyn than it did for Michael Foot.

What Do The Numbers Say?

So, the current polling average has the Conservatives on 42% and Labour on 26%. According to a traditional “Swingometer,” if the vote was held today, that would translate into a Conservative majority of 94, having taken 41 seats from Labour and one from the SNP, as you can see in the graph below.

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The Numbers Are Misleading

Well, sort of anyway. Firstly, I have a slight suspicion that the current polling is somewhat exaggerating Labour support. Why? Well, because it usually does, and, as I will explain later, it is highly likely that Conservative support will increase as the campaign properly begins. Under first past the post, even small swings can bring substantial changes to the map. For example, if (instead of 42/26) the Conservatives manage to win 44% to Labour’s 24%, their majority increases to 130.

Secondly, it would be wrong to take these calculations as absolute gospel, even if the projected national swing is correct. That is because some constituencies are likely to see a higher than average swing due to issues such as Brexit. According to the graph above, the Liberal Democrats will only gain one seat (Cambridge from Labour). That is almost certainly untrue, as the party will likely gain a number of pro-remain seats from the Conservatives, as the latter’s election chief has warned. Furthermore, a majority of those happen to be former Lib Dem seats anyway, making their comeback there more likely. Another example could be Labour seats where many people are employed in nuclear power or the defence industry, as such voters will be much more susceptible to anti-Corbyn messaging due to the Labour leader’s previous views on energy and the military. Such local concerns are not represented in national polling.

What Is Likely To Change Between Now and June?

Glad you asked. First and foremost, Labour’s support will likely decline. Since Corbyn was elected leader, his ardent supporters have wasted no time complaining about unfair media coverage. Well, over the next few months they will discover what a Conservative Party media machine really looks like. Tory operatives will dig up everything unsavoury the man has ever said or done and hand it to their friends in the press. Every comment he ever made about the IRA. Every newspaper he ever worked for that condoned terrorism. Every penny he ever took from the “wrong” people. Everything which contributes to an image of Corbyn being simultaneously dangerous and incompetent. They will destroy him, just as they did with Milliband and Kinnock, only this time their people will have far more material to work with.

Speaking of “their people,” Lynton Crosby has already been hired to help lead the campaign. That’s the 60-year-old Australian who engineered Cameron’s surprise victory in 2015. Some of his tactics have certainly come under staunch criticism, but the man knows how to run an election campaign. They’ll wake up at 5 AM every day for six weeks and their machine will be devastatingly effective. Tory HQ has also hired the same pollsters as last time round, also known as “The only people in Britain who weren’t surprised by David Cameron’s majority.” Simply put, as far as talent is concerned, Labour isn’t even close. They weren’t close in 2015, and now most of the party has accepted their face and is only worried about the internal battles to follow.

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Get ready for an updated version.

 

Tory Apathy 

Now for some counterbalance, I suppose. In 2015, the Conservatives owed their much-renowned victory to a terrifically effective fear factor. Third party voters and apathetic Tories alike were driven to the polls by the feeling that a Labour government propped up by the SNP was a very real possibility. Much of Crosby’s messaging initiative was focused on precisely this.

This time, however, few people in Britain actually believe that Jeremy Corbyn can become Prime Minister, and that’s a problem. If Labour manages to do a decent job of mobilising its voters, then the potential apathy on the other side might ensure that they lose by a significantly smaller margin than most expect. Combine that with moderately sized Lib Dem comeback, and May’s projected supermajority might not be quite as super after all.

Why Now

That’s what a lot of people, myself included, were undoubtedly wondering as May went back on her approximately 7 million promises not to hold an election before 2020. I suppose the reason she finally couldn’t resist is that it’s unlikely to get any better from here for the Conservatives. By 2020, Corbyn might have resigned and been replaced with someone at least half-competent, while the realities of leaving the European Union without a proper trade deal might begin to set in. This is her best chance to get a huge majority while likely reducing the opposition to its lowest number of seats since before the Second World War. Temptation is a potentially irresistible force.

My Pointless Prediction Then…

All things considered, and while it will be much easier to tell closer to the date, my own feeling is that May will take somewhere between 40 and 50 seats from Labour while the Lib Dems make moderate gains from both Labour and the Conservatives. The SNP will probably hold on to almost every seat in Scotland despite one or two loses to Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives. UKIP will get nowhere. Brexit was the worst thing that ever happened to them.