Matt Forney
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The Great Tory Meltdown of 2017

NOTE: This article was originally published at Medium on June 9, 2017. I’m re-posting it here because I recently deleted my Medium account.

So we were all wrong. Theresa May managed to do the impossible: lose an unlosable election. From a double-digit lead over Labour at the beginning of the campaign two months ago, the Conservatives have lost their majority amid gains for both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Tories remain the largest party in the Commons, but there’s no reason why the results should have been this close. When a lightweight fights a heavyweight to a draw, the lightweight won, and Jeremy Corbyn is such a lightweight that his loafers should be levitating him over London Bridge.

It’s worth pointing out that despite their losses, the Tories increased their support, both in absolute (they won just shy of 14 million votes, up from barely 11 million in 2015) and relative (they won 42 percent of the vote, up from 37 percent in 2015) terms. The problem is that Labour also increased their support, finishing with 13 million votes and 40 percent of the vote, up from 9 million and 30 percent two years ago. Moreover, in England and Wales, the left-wing vote consolidated around Labour instead of dividing itself between Labour, the LibDems, and the Greens, eliminating much of the vote-splitting that helped the Tories win marginal Labour seats in the last election.

For the moment, Conservative control of the government—and Brexit—are assured due to May striking a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party. The problem is that multi-party governments are always unstable—the exact opposite of what May promised when she called the election—and the DUP’s Christian, anti-gay, anti-abortion sensibilities couldn’t be a worse fit for May’s stealth leftism. The DUP’s position is also tenuous: they were driven into an alliance with the Tories out of fear of Jeremy Corbyn, an IRA sympathizer, becoming prime minister. Their partnership is like a marriage between two people who hate each other but are too ugly and sad to find anyone else.

So what the hell happened?


It’s clear that the Conservatives’ losses are due to Theresa May cucking out. She held all the cards at the beginning of the campaign: Labour was in turmoil, UKIP had evaporated, and the SNP was imploding. A hard line on Brexit and opposition to immigration would have won her 400 seats easily. Instead, she ran to the left, refusing to condemn Muslims for their proclivity for terrorism and refusing to hammer home that her party was the only one that could be trusted on Brexit. Consequently, the working-class voters who backed UKIP and voted to Leave had no reason to support her. The “dementia tax” debacle—in which May pledged to confiscate elderly voters’ property and shove them into Homes for the Useless, then backtracked in record time—also hurt her among a core Tory demographic.

As mentioned already, Labour’s gains in the election come in part due to consolidation of the left-wing vote, as both the LibDems and Greens lost support (despite the former winning more seats). However, the party also took a large amount of UKIP support. Corbyn’s Bernie Sanders-esque appeal as an outsider (as well as the party taking a similar position on Brexit as the Conservatives) likely endeared him to Brexit voters who were turned off by May’s cold, establishment countenance.

There’s also theories that May deliberately threw the election in order to sabotage Brexit. As a former Remainer and a political animal, May knew that going back on Brexit would wipe out her party at the polls, so engineering a hung parliament would allow her to destroy Britain’s departure from the E.U. while blaming it on the opposition. It’s not unlike how during the latter half of Obama’s presidency, the Republicans would grandstand on shutting down the government over Obamacare, only to turn around two weeks later and give into every single one of his demands. As my friend James Morts said to me during Argent Templar’s live coverage of the election last night, May routinely humiliated and embarrassed Corbyn during Prime Minister’s Questions (a weekly event in which the opposition parties hold the prime minister to account), yet she refused to debate him even once during the campaign.

There are some silver linings in the results: the Scottish National Party, a gang of Marxists masquerading as nationalists, took a severe drubbing at the polls, losing nearly half their seats. Both their parliamentary leader Angus Robertson and former leader (and Scottish First Minister) Alex Salmond were defeated, and by Tory candidates, no less (the Conservatives have historically done poorly in Scotland, having held only one Scottish seat since 2001). Nick Clegg, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister under David Cameron, also lost his seat to a Labour candidate, nearly breaking down into tears when he gave his concession speech. The LibDems, who want to stop Brexit entirely, only won a few new seats and will remain on the fringes of the new parliament.

Most interestingly, this election also saw massive polarization in Northern Ireland. The Ulster Unionist Party and the Social Democratic and Labour Party, the moderate unionist and nationalist parties respectively, both lost all their seats. Aside from a lone independent, all of Ulster’s seats are now held either by the Democratic Unionist Party—founded by Ian “Kill All the Catholics” Paisley—and Sinn Féin, formerly the political arm of the Provisional IRA. At the same time, the Northern Ireland Assembly, which collapsed in January due to disagreements between the DUP and Sinn Féin, still has not formed a new government. With Sinn Féin abstaining from taking up their seats and the DUP partnering with the Tories, there’s big trouble coming down the pike for Northern Ireland.

But let’s be real: Theresa May fucked this up badly. With Brexit negotiations set to begin in less than two weeks, her party has been forced into a tenuous alliance with the DUP just to cling to power. The situation is bad enough that Nigel Farage, who showed his integrity when he left politics after achieving the goal of his career—Britain’s exit from the E.U.—has hinted that he will be returning to the fore. Brussels is no doubt salivating about the election results, because it will allow them to turn the screws on the U.K. on their way out in order to scare Poland, Hungary, and other countries thinking of defying the E.U.’s diktats.

You coulda been a contendah, Theresa. You chose to be a bum.

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