United Kingdom

How Theresa May's Snap Election Backfired

An election May called to shore up her mandate diminished her influence instead.

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Jeff Moore / Splash News/Newscom

Theresa May's Conservative Party ended up losing 13 seats in Britain's elections yesterday. That wasn't the outcome the prime minister expected when she called a snap election in March, back when her party's lead over Jeremy Corbyn's Labour stood at 20 percent and May hoped a larger Tory majority would strengthen the United Kingdom's negotiating position on Brexit.

The Conservatives fell 7 seats short of a majority, and May announced today that she would form a coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the socially conservative majority party in Northern Ireland. The Guardian reports that May will hold onto her main cabinet ministers as she assembles the new government. Prior to the election, there was speculation that May would use the opportunity to reshuffle the cabinet; last night it was unclear if May would survive the election results.

Despite the Conservatives' poor showing, the election shouldn't be seen as a referendum on Brexit. The Liberal Democrats, who served in a coalition government with the Conservatives from 2010 to 2015, campaigned vigorously on an anti-Brexit platform. The issue didn't resonate on the campaign trail, and it didn't resonate at the ballot box either: The party got a slightly smaller percentage of the vote than last time. And while they gained four seats, they expected their anti-Brexit campaign to net them dozens. Meanwhile, one LibDem who lost was the party leader, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

While DUP opposes same-sex marriage and abortion, its focus in Westminster may be more on issues specific to Northern Ireland. The Unionists are "likely to be concerned that attacking the status of rights under the European Convention on Human Rights might destabilise the Good Friday Agreement between the UK and Ireland," explains David Feldman, a professor of law at Cambridge University. The DUP is also interested in maintaining access to the European single market and in keeping the post-Brexit border between Northern Ireland and Ireland—an EU member—as open as possible.

The new dispensation may also give May less room to pursue some of her other goals, such as rolling back the human rights laws that get in the way of her counterterrorist and anti-"extremist" efforts. "With a minority government, and a very heavy programme of legislation needed to make necessary arrangements for paving the way for Brexit, there is likely to be little time or inclination to embark on an unnecessary battle over human rights," Feldman says. (He adds that even if such legislation were to pass the House of Commons it could run aground in the House of Lords, "particularly as such legislation did not form part of the Conservative Party's election manifesto.")

BBC presenter David Dimbleby claimed last night that the United Kingdom has "reverted to a two-party system," as the two parties combined to receive a higher share of the popular vote than in any election since 1970. The U.K. Independence Party, which won 12.6 percent in the last election, saw its vote share collapse: It earned just 2 percent of the vote and lost its only seat in Westminster. Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party lost 21 seats. Following the failed 2014 independence referendum, the Nationalists won 54 out of 57 Scottish seats in 2015; a key component of their campaign this time was to get a new independence referendum as early as next March. A referendum any time before Brexit is complete is now highly unlikely.

Brexit negotiations will continue until March 2019. According to EU law, the U.K. will be removed from the union at that time even if negotiations have failed to produce an exit deal. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, has said that yesterday's elections would have "no impact on negotiations."

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  1. Electorates in both the UK and USA seem to be implicitly fond of a certain amount of authoritarianism, but get a bit tetchy if you make it too explicit.

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  2. I do think this will make a soft Brexit more likely. Britain becoming more like Norway then.

    1. Not really. She’s going to have to get votes from the DUP seats to pass anything, and they’re the Brexit equivalent of “Mexico will pay us to build the wall”. So this election is going to make the Brexit even harder.

      1. Sorry, was confusing DUP with UKIP

        1. Yeah, from my reading on the DUP (which consists of googling about them since the election), I get the impression that they are more like the Pat Robertson/Ted Cruz conservatives over here. Also, they naturally want free trade with Ireland, an EU member. So I can see the coalition with DUP going something like: the DUP’ers starting this debate on how sinful gay marriage is, and insisting on watered down Brexit in the name of free trade with Ireland.

          1. DUP is interested in one thing – remaining part of UK. Their social conservative position is solely to distinguish them from both the watered-down Catholicism of modern Ireland and the evangelical atheism of Sinn Fein. Their interest in an open (but very real) border with Ireland is to prevent a new outbreak of ‘the troubles’. They will cooperate with the Tories – until/unless there is any possibility of losing working control over the NI Assembly (and they just lost that in March elections).

            So my guess is this ‘coalition’ will last until – oh – June 21.

            1. “Their social conservative position is solely to distinguish them from both the watered-down Catholicism of modern Ireland and the evangelical atheism of Sinn Fein.”

              WHAT?!
              WIH is ‘evangelical atheism’ and what cites do you have for your claim?

              1. Irish man here. I can confirm that the comment about Sinn Fein made no sense. In fact, I’d beware drawing any parallels with the American system.

                There’s nothing like the Northern Irish system in the world. It’s a parliment wherein power must be shared among 2 parties, one from each ‘side’.

  3. BBC presenter David Dimbleby

    This may be one of the most English names I’ve read all day.

    1. Naw. That would be his brother, Nigel Dimbleby.

      1. I can’t believe you said Nigel. I started my comment as “The only name that could be MORE English would be if his first name was Nigel” but I went with brevity.

        1. The last name would have to be hyphenated to reach Peak Brit: Nigel Dimbleby-Throppe or something like that.

          1. Nigel Dimbleby-Throppe, DDS, would probably not do well in America.

          2. Needs a -shire and a ridiculous generational suffix:

            Nigel Dimbleby-Throppenshire IV

            1. , Esquire

              1. Ah, a barrister, wot?

                1. Ha! You’re clearly thinking of the Outer Buckneck Dimbleby-Throppenshires. Nigel is a Lower Over-the-Wall Dimbleby-Throppenshire. They’ve fallen on hard times recently, so their only appearances before the bar is likely to be as a defendant, not as a barrister.

            2. Dimbleby-Throppenshire, of course, being pronounced ‘Dwyer.’

  4. There is a clear trend to the Socialist Left among young voters in many countries–note their support for Sanders, Corbyn, and M?lenchon (all off whom interestingly are in their sixties or seventies). I fear that it may take actually living under socialism to disillusion them…

    1. I don’t think there is any such real trend. What they CAN see is:

      1. a system that is completely tilted against them
      2. whatever capitalism/freemarket does exist is completely crony-driven and entrenches the haves
      3. those who purportedly advocate for freemarkets pretty much ignore the cronyism and ignore all the problems that the current system is creating for the young and, in general, advocates for those haves who are benefiting from the status quo not the have-nots who aren’t.

      Looks to me more like those socialists are merely the only ones standing there in a huge vacuum.

      1. ‘Libertarians’ don’t really exist in Europe – but the current situation is comparable to antebellum civilwar. As if they did exist – and spent all their time advocating for the liberty and property rights of slaveowners – and then are befuddled as to why the slaves aren’t interested in ‘liberty’.

        1. Germany has a libertarian-esque party that’s been way more successful than the LP could dream of. I wouldn’t count Europe out yet.

          1. Germany has a libertarian-esque party that’s been way more successful than the LP could dream of.

            German liberals are “ordoliberals”; they believe in strong government regulation of markets and the social welfare state. No party in Germany advocates anything close to free markets.

            As for success, despite Germany’s approximately proportional representation system, they didn’t get any seats in parliament (communists, socialists, and greens did).

            Classical liberalism and libertarianism has never been a political force in Europe, and won’t be any time soon.

            1. German liberals are “ordoliberals”; they believe in strong government regulation of markets and the social welfare state. No party in Germany advocates anything close to free markets.

              You are conflating ‘Germans being Germans’ with ordoliberalism. Germans love rules and are as constipated about rules as any culture can possibly be. But that is cultural – not economic.

              Take ordo out of Germany and stick it in Switzerland (where there are enough French/Italians who laugh at rules and then proceed to ignore them) – and the Germanic temptation to come up with a rule for everything disappears. The FDP there is absolutely classical liberalism (NOT anarcho/libertarian though) and it is a major party.

        2. The U.S. Constitution is the most influential document in regard to other countrys’ constitutions. That part of Libertarianism has certainly carried over to Europe in varying ways and varying degrees.

          Economically, not as much.

      2. Often, people find a shitty, terrible solution that will eventually create more problems than it solves to be preferable to no solution at all.

        1. I definitely think that comes with the reactionary tribalism territory. Shortsightedness.

    2. I think it’s because they spent their entire life in state indoctrination camps with little exposure to the real world thanks to things like high minimum wages.

      1. You seem to be the one that is a bit clueless about the real world. Rents in London are currently averaging 66% of income and are accompanying massive subsidies to already-wealthy homeowners.

        Labour Party policy re rents/housing is the usual nonsense.
        Conservative Party has no policy apart from subsidy for homeownership. Apparently, they were just informed four months ago that home prices are now, probably, permanently out of reach of a large part of the population and that that population ‘rents’ instead. Whatever they ultimately decide on – you can bet it won’t include eliminating homeowner subsidies/distortions.

        1. How about you don’t live in London then? You don’t have a right to live whenever you want at a price you want

          1. The average rent-to-income across England is 40%. The average for those under 24 is 88%.

            Because of course there is no natural right to have a fucking place to sleep – SOMEWHERE. Esp since banks need to keep interest rates real-negative and house prices up because god forbid home prices ever drop and homeowners lose their right to ever-increasing home equity to stay ahead of their mortgage.

            Yuppers – it’s all about the minimum wage. Spoiled little younguns don’t remember how things used to be. When I was a kid, we slept in a matchbox in the middle of the highway – if we were lucky – and paid millowner for the privilege of working down at mill 26 hours a day.

            1. And here you are peddling this idiotic medieval conspiracy that it’s the bankers that are impoverishing everyone just for shits and giggles.

              Banks don’t benefit by making it hard for people to pay off their mortgages, nor do they benefit from low down payments. That adds unnecessary risk.

              Housing prices aren’t high because the Rothschilds are keeping them up. They’re high because the state restricts building and land use to the point of absurdity, while subsidizing demand. To add insult to injury, they over-regulate the financial market, making banks ever more hesitant to loan to low income borrowers without being under-written/bailed out by the state, which the state has to do because they’ve rendered the financial sector so uncompetitive that if a major bank falls through the financial sector runs the risk of collapsing.

              The solutions are fairly straightforward: de-regulate money lending to increase supply of mortgage loans, and de-regulate building, to increase supply of housing. Increase supply, and prices fall. Not only that, but it increasing supply is the *only* way to decrease prices, short of killing off a bunch of people, since that’s the only way to reliably reduce demand for housing.

              1. They’re high because the state restricts building and land use to the point of absurdity, while subsidizing demand.

                Housing prices are high because debt is used to drive them up. No the state does not subsidize demand for actual physical housing. It subsidizes the diversion of capital into FINANCING housing.

                de-regulate money lending to increase supply of mortgage loans

                hahaha. Yes of course. Because the govt subsidy of mortgage lending has resulted in mortgage lending that is higher in the UK (as % of ability to pay it back) than most anywhere else (US isn’t far behind). Which proves that its probably too low. Cuz regulation. And Lord knows that bank depositors are just lining up to deposit money for banks to lend – to receive – hmm – nothing (soon to be negative) in return.

                de-regulate building, to increase supply of housing. Increase supply, and prices fall.

                And why exactly is a bank gonna loan money to construct physical housing (of which there is no real shortage) that puts the rest of their existing mortgage loan portfolio at risk? Ooh – ANOTHER financing subsidy. That’s the ticket.

                Yeesh – there is no shortage of actual physical housing. There is too much money chasing ‘housing’ as an ‘investment’. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZES. And that is apparently exactly the sort of govt intervention and distortion that libertarians like. Because fuck the young we were here first or something.

                1. “Yeesh – there is no shortage of actual physical housing. There is too much money chasing ‘housing’ as an ‘investment’. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZES. And that is apparently exactly the sort of govt intervention and distortion that libertarians like. Because fuck the young we were here first or something.”

                  OK, folks, JFree has entered the twilight zone of lefty tin foil helmets.
                  JFree?
                  Fuck off, slaver. Your fantasies are just voices in your head.

                  1. “OK, folks, JFree has entered the twilight zone of lefty tin foil helmets.”
                    Yeah, no physical shortage of housing? Almost every major coastal metropolis has an acute physical shortage of housing. Maybe JFree never leaves Wyoming.

            2. I see your average IQ is in the low double digits.
              First off, if that were the case, no one could afford to live there, so you’re obviously full of shit.
              Fuck off, slaver.

  5. According to EU law, the U.K. will be removed from the union at that time even if negotiations have failed to produce an exit deal

    Oh right, so now suddenly the EU doesn’t need the U.K.

    1. English refugees in the EU will start blowing themselves up and driving lorries into crowds any day now… any. day. now.

  6. Theresa May’s Conservative Party ended up losing 13 seats in Britain’s elections yesterday.

    In my head I can hear both Nelson’s mocking “HA-Ha” and Bender’s katagelastic “AH-HAHAHAHAH!”

  7. They just don’t like her.

  8. This election was an improbable victory for real conservatives, as the so-called “Conservatives” are forced to reply on the DUP to form a government. Forcing the liberal “Conservatives” into a marriage of convenience with REAL conservatives might actually do them, and the UK, a lot of good!

    The DUP is pro-life, and they are also climate realists who want to put a stop to the crazy leftist politicization of climatology. They are a beacon of Christian decency, scientific integrity & good sense, in an insane age! What’s not to love?

    This is a great day for the UK!

  9. The people really screwed themselves voting the way they did. Having a strong backing would have helped keep the EU from swamping the UK with punishing conditions. Shame the people on the left care little where money comes from and vote based on promises of free life paid for by the rich even though that would never happen. Jeremy promised them everything ?but free rides to the moon.

  10. And I see the reason skwirrles ate m comment from here JUST LIKE THEY ATE MY LAST (EVER) CONTRIBUTION TO REASON.
    So, here we go again:
    The Brits are suffering from austerity; it says so right here:
    “In the first few years of austerity, it was possible to cut out some of the fat from the state,” he added. “But for the last few years, it’s been cutting to the bone.” […] Government spending slumped from 45% of the country’s GDP in 2010 to just over 39% this year.” A 6% CUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Well, it kind of understandable; they’ve been living under socialism for 70-some years and socialism will do that. So we’re going to fix things:
    “Corbyn, who was once written off by political pundits, said the vote proved that “people have have had quite enough of austerity politics.”
    http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/0…..index.html

    Yep, more socialism

    1. ” Government spending slumped from 45% of the country’s GDP in 2010 to just over 39% this year.” A 6% CUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

      And cutting it to zero would be a 45% cut.

    2. Government spending slumped from 45% of the country’s GDP in 2010 to just over 39% this year.” A 6% CUT!

      That’s easy: just wreck the economy some more with regulations, and government spending can easily reach 60%, 70%, or even 80% of the country’s GDP.

  11. Unreason is ‘Wrong again !’

    May’s plan came off without a hitch… as she and her hate Western European society to destruction Politi’Kal Klass planed, they lost the election to cripple Brixet by sticking Britain with a no majority government…

    the actual intent was to have May’s political henchmen lose so many seats that they would have to form a coalition which could then stall Brixet for ever; or, at least screw the country up economically until they can rig an EU reentry election.

    To actually win the election all Mays people had to do was run on a National Building a better Britain through Brixet platform… this is the same deal being done to/in America.

    May and her band won ! winning is achieving in your objective? forfeiting a commanding majority was the objective.

    Now the May gang can start sucking up to Adolph Merkel and her french Macaroon… the brits and the french fought 2 world wars to stop the Germans from overrunning Europe; so, here we are, 100 years and millions of dead British and French soldiers and civilians later with both governments gone Vichy… what a waste.

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