Friday, May 06, 2005

Absolute Power... by a Smaller Margin

Apparently the blogsphere is abuzz over the British elections, so I’ll post a few thoughts here. And all good analyses start with numbers.

MPs 2001

MPs 2005

Labour 413

Labour 355

Conservative 166

Conservative 197

Lib Dem 52

Lib Dem 62

Vote % 2001

Vote % 2005

Labour 41

Labour 37

Conservative 32

Conservative 33

Lib Dem 18

Lib Dem 22

So Lib-Dems took from the Labour vote percentage, but Conservatives took from the Labour MPs. If last night was a loss for Labour, who was it a victory for? Well both Michael Howard and Charlie Kennedy will be able to claim success, so they’ll probably stick around. One of the reasons I dislike various non-direct electoral systems so much, is that it becomes very hard to interpret what political success is and what public favor means.

I’m dismayed at the people acting like this is a huge blow for Blair. Losing seats on your majority, yeah that’s bad, but he still has a good majority. When it’s called a rebuke of him then, it’s about the public’s reaction to his specific actions. Well do they regret the Iraq War? Why did Conservatives make more gains than Lib Dems (or do you assume only the vote % matters, and so it was Lib Dems that made gains)? Was it a rebuke of his personal leadership? His own constituency elected him at a higher rate than ever, and his personal approval ratings continue to top either opposition leader.

Blair does continue to be my favorite politician, and I'm simultaneously glad he's staying in office and that the public has amde him pay a price for an unpopular war. The point of democracy is not to put people I like in office, it's to make politician's pay attention to the public. Anyway, his summary of the night, that the British voters wanted a smaller majority for Labour but a majority nonetheless, was more honest than any American politician could be.

Will Blair be forced out? What will Labour due, tune in next week to… nah, I’m just kidding. This was a boring small rollback, but even the British media has to act like it’s news. I’m sure Blair is none too eager to abandon his position as one of the most powerful men in the world.

It’s best summed up in the USA Today headline Labour voters shrug, go with Blair again.


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