“Never use words that are too big for your subject,” wrote C.S. Lewis.
For example, he said, if we use the word “infinitely” when we mean “very”, what word will we then use to portray something truly infinite?
Yesterday’s general election outcome in the UK may not be as game-changing as some pundits would have us believe. More often than not, words like “catastrophic” (applied today to the Conservatives) and “game-changing” (used of Labour) prove to be hyperbolic when seen through the longer lens of political and social history. For all that, though, there are some important shifts which will emerge as a direct consequence of the result.
Voter fatigue will become an election issue
Before this election, I predicted that voter fatigue would be a factor in the outcome. The voting public has been called upon to cast too many votes in recent times.
Historically, snap polls have rarely worked out well for the parties that have called them, partly because of voter cynicism. From the voters’ perspective, the thinking goes like this: if you are already in power, what more do you need to get on with the job? Is there something you’d like to be doing in the near future for which you think you’ll need a larger majority, because it won’t be popular?
Cynicism is always heightened when voters are tired of politics and politicians. At this point in time, many Brits will be feeling that there’s just too much politics in the UK. (The only cohort seemingly unaffected by fatigue is the young adult demographic - see below.)
The Prime Minister will resign
The Prime Minister will, at some point fairly soon, need to resign, paving the way for yet another potentially destabilising Tory contest. Her political judgement has been found seriously wanting. An election that was meant to cement her position as the “strong and stable” leader the country needs, accomplished the opposite. It revealed an arrogance bred of listening too much to a close coterie of non-cabinet advisers.
An internal party election is perhaps the last thing the country needs. We are within weeks of commencing Brexit negotiations. It’s bad enough that the Conservatives now need to invest time in finding a coalition partner - most likely the DUP. To add a leadership campaign involves further expenditure of time and resources which the country could well do without, especially as negotiators on the EU side are arguably better prepared than are ours - the election saw to that.
“New” politics will age rapidly
There is much talk from Labour about a “new breed of politics”. The fact is that in a stable democracy, politics doesn’t really change all that much. The personnel move about and citizens vote according to shifting priorities at different times. But the way people “play the game” doesn’t alter to any large degree.
In remarks following his victory within his local constituency, Jeremy Corbyn immediately began calling for Theresa May’s resignation, suggesting that her party no longer best represents the country. This despite the fact that even early in the count, the Conservatives looked comfortably set to retain the largest number of seats in the Parliament.
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