Duncan’s Economic Blog

Politics in the Next Five Years

Posted in Uncategorized by duncanseconomicblog on November 18, 2009

A quick political post.

Bob Piper, promoted by occasional commentator  here Newmania, is speculating about whether there will be two general elections. This got me thinking.

The following is from an email I received a few days before June’s Euro elections – sent from a friend whose views are always interesting.

I’d be curious for people’s thoughts:

Also this, which everyone on Saturday said was mad, but I increasingly
think while unlikely, isn’t impossible:

UKIP do well on Thursday. Not brilliantly, but well. They hold their
number of MEPs despite a falling number overall, beat the Lib Dems
convincingly, and at least run Labour close.

At the general election their vote share doubles again to around 4.5%,
and they save over 100 deposits (45 last time). They take some second
places in the South-East and rural parts of the South-West.

Cameron becomes Prime Minister, the Lib Dems end up with fewer seats
than at present, and Labour are broken, turning to infighting between
the Blairites and the left, and more importantly unforgiven for the
current crisis by the vast majority of voters.

The W-shaped recession kicks in, as the Conservative government cuts
spending savagely, and encourages higher interest rates to protect
savers – this fails to bring in any new tax revenue, and taxes have to
rise to cover the growing cost of the government deficit.

UKIP keep ‘getting serious’ as Farage’s personal power is strengthened
by electoral results. By mid-term, Cameron’s Conservatives are polling
around the 30% mark, and some ‘rogue polls’ show UKIP hitting 10%. The
BNP are rudderless and disillusioned as they fail to make the promised
advance, and lose their London assembly member.

Needing to curry favour in the EU to get the freedom of manoeuvre
required on economic policy, Cameron gives in to his civil servants and
signs the next Treaty, without a referendum. He says it gives the EU no
new powers, and calls it “game, set and match to Britain”, in reference
to Andy Murray’s success at Wimbledon 2012.

Disillusioned by Parliament and impoverished by the new allowances
system, Crispin Blunt leaves Parliament to take up a vacancy as
Britain’s European Commissioner, vacated by Ken Livingstone’s return to
the UK campaign trail for the London mayoralty. A by-election is pending
in Reigate. Result 2010 as follows:

Conservative: 48%
UKIP: 16%
Lib Dem: 15%
Labour: 10%

The Conservatives select a Cameron A-list clone, committed to forcing
the treaty through Parliament. UKIP select the telegenic grandson of
former local MP and whipless Maastricht rebel George Gardiner. The
by-election is fought as a referendum on the tax-raising,
service-cutting budget, and a proxy referendum on the treaty.

UKIP win their first elected member of Parliament, beating the
Conservatives narrowly by 36% to 35%, and making a small fortune for
punters on Politicalbetting who were appraised of the possibility in a
post shortly before the markets went up. Their poll ratings are
transformed, and they are now regularly trading third place with the Lib
Dems, depending on the pollster. A string of other by-elections across
the south of England in the next 18 months see them beat, or come close
to beating, the Tories, on the march in the way the Lib Dems were in
1993-7. In the 2014 Euro elections they top the poll, albeit with only
27% of the vote.

The 2015 General election is a messy campaign, with Cameron making all
sorts of promises on renegotiating European treaties in an attempt to
regain his core voters, but alienating a number of his Europhile MPs in
the process – Ken Clarke resigns from the cabinet and delivers a
devastating speech, but Cameron hangs on. General election day rolls
round, and the exit polls say:

Labour: 30%
Conservatives: 28%
UKIP: 18%
Lib Dem: 15%

Despite a clear win for ‘parties of the right’, the distribution of UKIP
vote and the effect of relative turnout returns a Labour Party,
fractious and unprepared for government, with a majority of 30 seats.

4 Responses

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  1. CharlieMcMenamin said, on November 18, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I think the capacity of the fiscal crisis of the state to accelerate long established political trends such as the crumbling of support for the two main parties is certainly a plausible basis for futureology.

    But I’m unconvinced by the idea of giving UKIP centre stage in such a scenario. They’re really just a (southern) English Nationalist Party, after all – the really interesting political developments on this front may come from the very different nationalist movements in Scotland and Wales. & I’m surprised that there is no lace in the scenario for a fracturing – as oppose to simply an evaporation – of the Labour vote in favour of the Greens.

    • duncanseconomicblog said, on November 18, 2009 at 10:07 am

      Charlie,

      I’ll see if I can get the original author to respond.

    • John said, on November 18, 2009 at 9:13 pm

      Hi, I don’t think there’s any reason you can’t in theory script a similar scenario, and perhaps that’s a weakness. The reasons I’d say it’s less likely in the timeframe I’m talking about are

      * Labour will be in opposition. It’s harder to upset your voters in opposition, and parties out of power tend, unless they go completely mad, to recover a bit, so any focus has, in mind mind, to begin with what might result from things going wrong for the Governing party, rather than Labour losing votes in 2014-5 that they hold despite everything in 2010. Same goes for Scotland, an SNP Government in Edinburgh and a Tory one in Westminster is, I think, good news for Labour – Quebec is a good comparator for much of this.
      * The alternatives to Labour are less clear-cut – the Government has upset voters in all sorts of ways, so for example I feel deeply betrayed by Labour’s housing and privatisation policies, but I’m a zionist. I know people who are passionately in favour of higher taxes and more public service spending, but don’t believe in real action on climate change, I know people who want lots more action on climate change, but are against ‘big government’. In contrast those who will be alienated by a Conservative government may well all be in the “lower taxes, less Europe, more conservative social policy” camp, or libertarian types that UKIP sometimes scoops up.
      * Even when there is a challenge to Labour, the left is more prone to factional splits. In some countries even the Green Party itself has split. Even with only one Green Party, there’s the SWP, SLP, SA, SSP, Solidarity, Respect (two of), etc. Far harder to mount a coherent challenge under FPTP when half a dozen parties are competing for the same audience. Attempt to fragment UKIP (Reform, Veritas, the other one) have withered fast.
      * UKIP is largely a southern party (who, let’s not forget, beat the Liberal Democrats to score an MP in Wales, and got 15% of the vote in the North-East, and their best constituency in 2005 was Skegness with 10% of the vote, hardly the South!) but I think the rise of the BNP, contrary to what some people think, decontaminates the UKIP brand by having something with which to compare it, much like the cheapest item in the supermarket becomes less stigmatised if there’s a value brand.

  2. Bill le Breton said, on November 18, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    For some time now I have been thinking that it is all more reminiscent of the 1970 election.- have a look at the Sandbrook history of the Sixties, White Heat.
    68 Devaluation
    68 – 70 Wilson manages to turn the economy almost in time for election.
    68-70 Leader of the Tories promises cuts – Selsdon Report
    70 election a close run thing (forget World Cup loss)
    Heath in by 30 seats His first choice Chancellor dies but with Barber he sets about cuts
    Unemployment rises (for that time) dramatically
    72 – Heath Barber panic and U Turn
    72 – 74 continuing labour unrest
    74 election on Who runs Britain
    Feb hung parliament but Tories abstain in Queens speech
    Wilson ‘manages’ inflation short term (milk and bread prices???) and goes for Oct election – small working (but wasting) majority leading eventually to the need for …
    Lib Lab Pact until Aug 78
    Meanwhile Thatcher beats Heath on ticket of no more U-Turns
    79-97 – you know the story.
    97 the story continues by another means
    I’d say we are about to see that big 40 year cycle begin again. Depressing.


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