So I suppose its about time we duly elected Nigel Farage our supreme ruler yeah? And I suppose we should be spearheading towards a no-deal Brexit hell for leather, right? Don’t these results show that? Isn’t that the mandate the country have given us?
Well, if you don’t have a brain this may be the conclusion you have drawn. These results tell us virtually nothing. On a turnout of below 40%, coupled with the fact that potentially several thousand EU citizens living here and Britons living abroad were denied the right to vote on Thursday, you could argue that this entire electoral process should be considered null and void.
The reason being that the warring factions of the Brexit debate will now use these results to justify their specific course of action. Those who voted for the Brexit Party will say that they got the most votes, therefore the outcome of a no-deal exit from the EU in October is a democratically quantifiable resolution to this farcical episode in our recent political history.
On the other side, the surge in support for the de-facto ‘Remain alliance’ of the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Change UK surely exemplifies the clear public support for another referendum. Despite the fact that I personally would like to see this be put back to the people, I do not think it is right for any of these parties to try and manipulate the vote of 37% of the electorate for their own political ends.
How can you extrapolate anything from these votes? We can talk about the demise of the two main parties, who have collectively gained 23.2% of the national vote share, but as we know this type of result would not be replicated under the arcane first-past-the-post system we will use at the next general election, whenever that may be.
The results above all else make me fearful of what is to come. Realistically, the Brexit Party would not have done anywhere near as well as it has done if a) turnout was higher and b) Nigel Farage wasn’t their leader. I’ll give it to him, he is probably the most successful political operator of the last decade, so without him all the Brexit Party is is ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
His type of right-wing Populism thrives of low voter turnout, and more importantly, mass voter apathy. Because all it takes, as we have seen, is for someone like Farage to rally enough troops as to make this look like an unquestionable and resounding victory for his brand. That is dangerous, and if he continues to get the sheer amount of media coverage he does and the helping hand of the implosion of the Tory party, there is nothing stopping him from standing candidates in all 650 seats at the next election as he has confirmed and basically, replacing the Tories as the natural party of Conservatism. Stranger things have happened.
The Brexit Party aside, what else should we be taking from these result? Well, with the aforementioned caveat of the low turnout always in our mind, we should tread carefully. As I wrote last week, I do think that Labour’s constructive ambiguity on Brexit has become unsustainable now, so I’m glad that Corbyn has now come out unequivocally for a referendum on any Brexit deal, despite it being a bit late now.
It is clear from the results that Change UK are going to have to merge with the Liberal Democrat’s who have had yet another good night after their resounding Council election victory. I find it quite laughable that this narrative of ‘people are crying out for moderation and centrism’ has just not been borne out at all.
I don’t really have much to say about the Greens apart from that I’m glad they have done well. And I don’t really have much to say about the demise of UKIP apart from a solid ‘whoop whoop’.
As for poor old Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, I don’t think many a tear will be shed over his defeat up in Greater Manchester. Maybe he could have a nice cold milkshake to sooth his broken heart!