Sunday, May 8, 2016

British Conservatives Content with Local Elections

Cameron and his wife voted in the 2016 local elections
The Conservative Party in the United Kingdom has marched on to another victory ahead of Brexit and after their historic upset in the general election last year. Elections for local councils were held on May 5. Little changed in England, where both the Conservatives and the Labour Party lost council seats to the Liberal Democrats and the UK Independence Party. The story of night, however, is in Scotland. While the Scottish National Party remained ahead (though lost the majority), the Conservatives came out ahead of the Labour Party in a traditionally center-left region. Labour also missed out on winning a majority in the Welsh Assembly election.

These results are excellent news for Prime Minister David Cameron. He has been under fire lately for the Panama papers scandal, which had the potential to ruin his credibility and cause a horrible Conservative defeat in the elections. Cameron handled the problem very well and it showed in the elections. The elections also sent a message of support for the current budget. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, a possible successor of Cameron, created a budget that would reduce more spending and lower some taxes on rates like personal income and capital gains. Overall, it is on track to help the Conservative government reach their balanced budget goal in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Cameron's party didn't perform spectacularly, but he can look at the results with a positive outlook. He did just that when he gave a quick speech to Conservative voters:

video

It's bad news for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. Corbyn, a socialist, has pivoted his party to the left following their defeat last year. His first efforts to regain what has been lost have failed for now. Scotland is critical to win because without it the Labour Party cannot win a general election. Yet policy proposals like a 50 percent top income tax rate were not appealing to the voters. The results are not encouraging for him:

Scottish Parliament - 65 seats for a majority

Scottish National Party - 63 (-6)
Conservative Party - 31 (+16)
Labour Party - 24 (-13)
Green Party - 6 (+4)
Liberal Democrats - 5 (+/-)

Corbyn's party does not lead the opposition in Scotland anymore. The Conservatives will fill that new role. There are mixed views from Labour politicians. Some have said the results were good because they showed improvement within the party. A few have said that Labour is better than it was because it didn't lose as badly as it was expected to. Others are disappointed and have argued that small losses are not good enough. They want Labour to be making gains. Ian Murry, a Labour shadow minister, even said that the party is "not credible" under Corbyn's leadership. I expect the new Labour leader to continue his role, but he cannot have more slip-ups that diminish electoral confidence if he wants to be prime minister.

Nicola Sturgeon, the popular leader of the Scottish National Party, continues to remain on top after celebrating the "historic" victory. It's the SNP's third victory in a row. The only problem is that her party lost the majority they had from the 2011 election. Sturgeon will have to form a coalition in order to continue governing or just lead her party in the minority (no one sees the Conservatives, Labour Party, Greens, and Liberal Democrats teaming up for a coalition). Nevertheless, she is right to call the win historic. It shows that nationalism in western politics is continuing to brew. I don't think an independence referendum is likely in the near future, but the tone of debates in the Scottish Parliament is going to change. In debates between Labour and the SNP, it was simply about who would initiate the best leftist policies for the people. Now there will be debates with the center-right Conservatives. It really is a change for the Scots in the next several years.

In Northern Ireland, the center-right Democratic Unionist Party will continue to be the largest political party in the region. They were followed by the left-wing nationalist Sinn Fein in second and the Ulster Unionist Party, another ideologically center-right organization. As of now, the unionists on the right will remain ahead of the nationalists on the left:

Northern Ireland Assembly - 55 seats for a majority

Democratic Unionist Party - 38 (+/-)
Sinn Fein - 28 (-1)
Ulster Unionist Party - 16 (+/-)
Social Democratic and Labour Party - 12 (-2)
Alliance - 8 (+/-)
Green Party - 2 (+1)
People Before Profit - 2 (+2)
Traditional Unionist Voice - 1 (+/-)
Independents -1 (-1)

Another important election was held for the mayor of London. The Labour Party's Sadiq Khan has become the first Muslim mayor of the UK's capital. In a time when Europe is getting torn apart over refugee migration from the Middle East, Khan can help cool the temperature. He is a non-Islamist secular Muslim who has voted in favor of gay marriage, but he does have some skeletons in his past when it comes to links to Muslim extremists. Khan doesn't seem to be an extremist, but I think it is entirely fair to ask questions about his conduct when dealing with Islamist groups and attending Islamist events. British leftists often just branded these questions as "racist," but I do it is entirely fair to ask about a politician's past when he or she is running for public office. I think Khan's actions will be watched across Europe and in the United States. Everyone is wondering if he will bring harmony or tension to the international debate.

Bibliography of Sources Linked Above

1. Sparrow, Andrew. "George Osborne Delivers 2016 Budget – as It Happened." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 16 Mar. 2016. Web. 08 May 2016.                         
2. Khomami, Nadia. "From 'encouraging' to 'very Bad': Labour's Mixed Views on Its Results." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 06 May 2016. Web. 08 May 2016.                         
3. Wilkinson, Michael. "UK Local Elections 2016: Labour Are 'not Credible' under Jeremy Corbyn Says Shadow Minister - but He Refuses to Resign." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 08 May 2016. Web. 08 May 2016.                         
4. Carrell, Severin, and Libby Brooks. "SNP Win Stops Short of Majority as Scottish Labour Finishes Third." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 06 May 2016. Web. 08 May 2016
5. Geoghegan, Peter. "In Scotland, Nationalism Wins the Day." POLITICO. Capitol News Company, 07 May 2016. Web. 08 May 2016.
6. Nawaz, Maajid. "The Secret Life of Sadiq Khan, London’s First Muslim Mayor." The Daily Beast. IAC, 07 May 2016. Web. 08 May 2016.

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