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December 16, 2019

Tory win

Editorial

 
December 16, 2019

The United Kingdom faces an uncertain future after the electorate voted back the Conservative Party with a resounding majority. After steering the country into the disaster of Brexit, governance in the UK has felt like complete chaos. This is why the heavy electorate mandate handed to the Boris Johnson-led Conservatives has felt so depressing for many international observers. In the Jeremy Corybn-led Labour Party, the UK was finally presented a real alternative to the narrow nationalism that has dominated the country’s political scene in the last half a decade. The irony of the Johnson plan for the post-Brexit British economy is even more free trade agreements. The only issue on which Brexit is likely to have an impact is migration. Even there, Johnson has spoken of cutting European migration, while opening up migration in the Commonwealth countries. It is not clear if this would be enough for much of the electorate which seems to consider all forms of migration into the country to be a major issue. The trouble with anti-migrant messaging is that, in reality, much of the Western world seems to lack domestic skilled labour for major components of their economies.

The crisis in the education sector, where fee hikes have led to lower numbers of domestic students being able to get higher education, makes the picture even more bleak. With five more years of unopposed Conservative rule on the cards, this will only be worse. For many, the election results seem like a decision to shoot one’s own foot, very much in line with the election of Trump and Modi in the US and India. Political leaders with no economic plan have been brought into power on the basis of xenophobic rhetoric. The Conservative Party had two key messages: ‘Getting Brexit done’ and ‘Corbyn is unfit to rule’. The latter was ensured by orchestrating fake news campaigns and re-visiting Corbyn’s sane positions on issues like the Irish question.

What on paper may look like a more united Britain is going to be anything but going into the future. An internally divided Labour Party lost key seats in what was once considered its heartland in North England and Wales. Perhaps one positive has been hearing Johnson take sober stock of the new voters the Conservatives have gained, talking about a new Conservative Party that will listen to working class voters. But empowered with an unprecedented parliamentary majority, Johnson is likely to choose to interpret the voice of the working class to mean what he wants. It is all good to raise the bogeyman of socialism to win an election, but does do the Tories have a plan to steer the UK economy through Brexit without deepening the economic stagnation set into the economy? And will it manage to reduce the divisions that have grown in British society? One can only wonder, but the omens are not hopeful.

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