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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

UK GENERAL ELECTION, MAY 2010 (CONCLUSION)


There has been one news story that I haven’t commented on in a while. So…

MEET THE NEW OCCUPANT OF 10 DOWNING STREET


England has a new prime minister. On May 11, Gordon Brown officially tenured his resignation to Her Majesty and advised her to call for David Cameron.

 

Talks had wrapped up between leaders of the Conservatives (Tories) and the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition government. The last time a coalition government was formed: May 10, 1940, the date Germany invaded France and the Low Countries. That event triggered Neville Chamberlain to resign as Prime Minister and elevated Winston Churchill to lead a coalition government through World War II.

Within an hour, David Cameron accepted Her Majesty's offer to form a government and became the youngest Prime Minister in almost 200 years. (The last one: William Pitt, the Younger. He served as Prime Minister in 1783 at 24 and again in 1804 at the age of 45.)

What happens to Nick Clegg? He is the new Deputy Prime Minister in the Cameron Ministry along with five other Lib Dems. 

Now, I wasn't the only one interested in what was happening in the United Kingdom. Apparently, this guy had a vested interest in it. Upon hearing the conclusion of the election and the formation of a Coalition Government, the White House released a statement about a phone call that President Obama made to Prime Minister Cameron. Both leaders recognize that the United States and the United Kingdom have forged a unique partnership over the last seventy years that has grown into a key alliance in both nations foreign policy strategies (Remember, it did kind of start off frosty... The American Revolution, War of 1812, "54-40 or FIGHT" ).

Now, David Cameron has a long way to go to become a great prime minister. No one can equal the greatness that is William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (The name sake for Pittsburgh. A great city I must add). Though some scholars might disagree and lay to claim that Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston was a rather adequate holder of the office.

Ah, we see two gentlemen discussing this issue…

About my predictions…

All I can say is: Told ya so!

Okay, okay…. I was a tad off on the Liberal Democrats surge. I guess many other people (including myself) bought into the spin that the Liberal Dems were going to make significant gains in the House of Commons. At first it looked like the Liberal Dems were going to hold a greater number of seats in part due to Nick Clegg's performance in the first (EVER) live televised debate between the party leaders. That quickly faded away as David Cameron had a better showing in the next two debates. The turning point in the election was this memorable moment.


Here is the American equivalent.

I could support the argument that Gordon Brown was a poor choice for a candidate if you were to analyze it like our election system.

Besides Gordon's Gaffe, there was also the Greek economy crisis which prompted the European Union bailing out Greece and led to the devaluing of the Euro (Again, ANOTHER similarity with the 2008 US Presidential election: The economy tanking.). Even though the UK is in the EU, they are not a part of it ECONOMICALLY. The UK has been very pessimistic about replacing the Pound with the Euro. I am certain it has to do with national identity because the Pound is THEIRS. It says that they are British. I think a stronger argument is what is taking place in Greece. If one country's economy in the EU falls apart, they take the ENTIRE EU with them. Keeping their economy separate provides some level of protection from the rest of the world. Now, that is not necessarily true in the way how every economy on the planet is interconnected, but having this layer does minimize the impact. How long was it before Greece's economy began to take a noticeable impact on our economy; a week at the most?

In order to keep the government in a stable position through the economic hardship that Europe is facing, the most sensible alliance was struck. Once again, the numbers:


And this statement from Nick Clegg the morning after the election:

 

(By the way, has anyone caught that bit of depreciating humor on Clegg's part?)

On the May 9, 2010 episode of The McLaughlin Group, Issue #3 discusses the election with UPI's Martin Walker providing a British perspective on the topic. Issue #4 discusses about the Greek economy (From 18:45 of the clip).





It was clear that the electorate sent a message, but no one is sure what that message was. Labour had been in charge since 1997 with Tony Blair as the head of the government. In 2007, he resigned and Gordon Brown assumed the role of Prime Minister. This is almost similar to Blair leading Labour back to prominence after the Thatcherites (Conservatives led by Margret Thatcher) took control in 1979. Thatcher resigned in 1990; John Major won his first election as PM in 1992, but his party was literally swept out of power in 1997. The American equivalents of one party replacing the other in the legislative body would be the "Revolution of '94" and the Democrats reclaiming the House in 2006.

As shown in those examples there is an overwhelming swing when one party takes control of a government, but in the 2010 UK General Election yes the Tories won, BUT they didn't get past the magic number of 326. As stated in some of the online clippings I have been reading and I strongly support this theory, the electorate went back to what they were familiar with: Labour and the Tories. I also support the theory that the electorate figured that, "Well, since this election will result in a Hung Parliament, if I vote Lib Dem it would be no different than if I vote Tory." Also, as I stated above: Tony Blair RESIGNED. Gordon Brown, as the Labour Leader, became the new PM. Voters probably voted for Labour because of Tony Blair (similar to Reagan Democrats), but when Brown became PM, that probably did not sit well with the voters. "Wait a minute, we didn't vote for this fellow." 

And once again the old adage surfaced as there was a looming economic crisis on the European continent: "It's the economy, stupid." 

I am probably going to side with that the voters wanted different leadership, but did not want to give complete control to the Tories.
Before rambling on further and in closing, the clear winners in the election were David Cameron, the Tories, and Nick Clegg as they each have a role in the British Government. The losers: Labour and to a lesser extent, Lib Dems. For short term Nick Clegg and the Liberal Dems are in the winner's column but long term they could potentially be in a pinch when the next election is called (within two years, put my money on BEFORE the London 2012 Olympics).

Regardless of whether the Con-Lib Lab government succeeds or fails, it will resonate with the voters. If this alliance succeeds, then the voters will reward the Tories with more seats (put them over the magic number, similar to October 1974). If it fails, then not just the Tories will lose, but the Lib Dems will lose for being associated with them and Labour would be back in control.

That's all I got for now.
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