It was an exciting atmosphere down in the newsrooms of Sky and the BBC on Thursday evening. The usual commentators were getting ready to give their usual analyses; Jo Coburn’s voice positively quivered with excitement as the counts at the various centres were taking place; John Curtice was wheeled out like a mature bottle of Scotch to give his expert opinion on what the by-election trends could mean for a 2024 General Election. Hundreds of miles apart, the winning and losing candidates were getting their pre-prepared speeches ready to infuse their own support base and bore everybody else’s in Uxbridge, Frome and Selby respectively. Even Sky’s exultation at the ‘swing’ in Selby towards Labour’s Keir Mather couldn’t disguise the fact that turnout ‘in Selby and Ainsty was down 30 points compared to 2019, with just 33,549 people voting compared to around 56,000 in the last general election’ (https://news.sky.com/story/labour-secure-record-win-in-selby-and-ainsty-by-election-piling-pressure-on-rishi-sunak-12923545). In fact turnout in all three by-elections was well below 50%. Uxbridge, where the Conservatives held on with a narrow win, actually had the highest turnout of the three. The best advice I can give the reader is to ignore talk of swings and what they could possibly mean for a full national vote. It’s worth noting that Bermondsey had a 44.2% swing from Labour to the Liberals in 1983, and Clacton had a 44.1% swing from the Conservatives to UKIP in 2014. In both subsequent General Elections, the Conservatives were returned with an overall majority.
In spite of all the political commentators and their little frissons, I suspect a clear majority in the country couldn’t have given a damn what the results were. Large – potentially unprecedented – numbers of formerly loyal party voters have come to the conclusion that practically nothing divides the three principal parties anymore. I know they talk of a post-war consensus in British politics, but surely we have reached new heights of indistinguishable managerialism. Whatever the big issues of the day, you can bet your last penny Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats will share broadly the same principles. Immigration? Well, it’s just like that James Bond film: ‘The World is Not Enough’. For example, Suella Braverman and the Home Office are now looking at bi-lateral agreements with various EU members to bring in thousands of cheap workers on a ‘temporary basis’ (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-european-baristas-and-au-pairs-could-return-to-britain-under-government-scheme-8hxr92jl7) which, given the sheer incompetency of our border controls, will likely mean permanent. My word, they aren’t even pretending to care about what a broad majority of the population thinks about ongoing mass immigration anymore. Over the past 20 years, the British public has been presented with a series of faits accomplis, the news that last year net migration reached 606,000 being the most recent. Should we be surprised that polarisation and ghettoisation have taken root like never before? That schools, roads and hospitals are are creaking point? Or that large swathes of our countryside are gradually disappearing under the arrival of massive new housing developments? The standard response from the three parties: ‘We must build more houses’. Nothing either substantive nor meaningful about the need to bring migration down. The issue is now a giant Ponzi scheme, beneficial to big businesses who don’t have to pay to train native workers. And it is at this altar that all three parties worship whilst the infrastructural, cultural and cohesive qualities of British society gradually atrophy.
Then there’s Net Zero. That’s the aspiration to impoverish and discommode the poorest sections of society in order to fulfil the dream of the middle/liberal classes that the climate changes can be rectified by alterations to the minuscule amount of carbon emissions the United Kingdom discharges into the Earth’s atmosphere on an annual basis. Even if you’re of the opinion that anthropoid activity is the sole determinant of our changing climate (I’m of the considered view the climate has been changing periodically throughout the planet’s existence, and will continue to do so regardless), are you really convinced compelling Europe to live in financial misery when countries like India and China continue to industrialise at an impressive rate is a wise action? If people wish to exercise their personal choice for things like solar panels, wind generation or heat pumps, that’s fine by me. What’s not fine is suggesting petrol cars, gas boilers and air travel have to be abolished or neutered (https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/1695374/uk-ban-domestic-flights-alternative-ideas-britons-comments) when the fiscal position of those conjuring up these policies means they’ll never have to suffer the consequences of doing so. But where is the dissension from the central orthodoxy in the three parties? If it’s not being enunciated by the disaster that was Theresa May (https://www.cen.uk.com/net-zero-is-a-conservative-mission), it’s the new religion of Starmer’s Labour (https://www.iema.net/articles/labour-unveils-plan-to-reach-net-zero-emissions-by-2030) and echoed by the Liberal Democrats (https://greenlibdems.org.uk/en/article/2020/1385225/the-liberal-democrats-ambitious-ten-point-plan-for-uk-net-zero). Not one of the three stooges of the Establishment is willing to question the desire of pursuing Net Zero. Whether you vote for Curly, Larry or Moe, you’re going to get infringements on the purchases/choices you make in everyday life, with the United Kingdom being less energy secure and/or less free as a result of it.
Above are just two prime examples. We could consider the unquestioning worship of the unreformed and wasteful NHS, the desire to ‘get down with it’ in respect of all matters Pride and gay, the embrace of the trans insanity, the determination to empower regional devolution when the record of delivery in the various parliaments and assemblies has been woeful since their inception, or the race to see which one could articulate the most draconian restrictions on our freedoms during the COVID pandemic. We may have a party system of many colours, but when it gets down the fundamentals on how they think society should be governed (or controlled), we’re all just left with the same pallid vacuous shade of grey. Only on rare occasions do we see some low-hanging fruit of policy difference unveiled to give the illusion of policy diversity. It doesn’t come easy to me to say the following as a former lifelong Conservative: Unless those on the political Right become more varied and far more discerning in their electoral choices, then this country will fail to achieve the promise of reform those of us who voted for Brexit thought that vote would unleash.