Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's British politics, but not as we know it.

Some pretty big stuff is happening in British politics. Here's my instant reaction.

1. Scotland has jumped pretty dramatically in the direction of confrontation with the UK government. A weird outcome, given that Labour were leading until a month ago. I've no idea what happened in the campaign to provoke this, but it's the first sign of major upheaval resulting from the crisis. Scotland, I guess, is saying that you touch our budget at your peril. Cameron, of course, would probably be happy with independence.

2. The Liberal Democrats are in free-fall. The loss of the referendum is probably even worse than the loss of half its local councillors. It now has nothing at all to show for its concessions on big issues like immigration, the deficit, and tuition fees. It's Conservative party or bust for Nick Clegg.

3. Labour has taken a battering in Scotland. Elsewhere it's done OK. My guess is that its best hope is for Britain to slide into contraction as a result of the cuts, and be able to say I told you so. If that doesn't happen, we'll lose the next election to the Tories, although we'll grab a bunch of Lib Dem votes for sure.

4. Nobody seems to perceive any connection between electoral institutions and dissatisfaction with politics. The English (NB, English) people may moan about politics and politicians, but they show no inclination to do anything about it. In a crisis, it's back to Mummy - the constitution, the monarchy, and the good old Tory party. It's official: England is a teenager.