How to live with a difficult woman: The way minority Government can work and how UKIP must proceed.
Leaving aside the issue of how many more tricks the Establishment will try to pull in an effort to derail BREXIT, I think it is worth considering Theresa May probably intends to deliver. She would lose face very significantly if she did not. “BREXIT means BREXIT!”
It seems clear, now, she was fooled into diving into an unnecessary election. Her poor judgement is cause for concern but if she has learned from her mistakes then the changed scenario presents new opportunities for smaller parties such as UKIP. A minority Government is constrained by one very powerful consideration, the fear of the voter. Every step it takes will be taken with an eye on the danger of a sudden, unexpected, General Election. That terror will inflict every party. Not one of them will wish to deliver anything remotely unpopular, as the creaking wreck of the Conservative administration limps along with water up to the gunwales.
We should remember, too, that when the Nation feels under attack then people “run for the hills”. In this case the “hills” are the old order principle parties. This explains, in part, why the Conservatives have made such a dramatic recovery in Scotland. When under attack we group together for strength and there can be no mistaking this country was under attack during the election campaign. When you consider that our “intelligence” services were FULLY AWARE of the nature of those who attacked us and fully aware they posed a threat it seems incredible those attacks happened just by chance and could neither be anticipated nor prevented.
Why the Surprise?
If we are honest among ourselves the result of the election should not have been such a surprise. I predicted the nature of the result except that I thought the Conservatives would end up with roughly the same number of seats as before. My predictions were much closer than any of the mainstream commentators. I am also on record as suggesting that a “hung Parliament” was the best option. I should have preferred UKIP holding the balance of power but we need to make the best of what is on offer.
What a Minority Government Can Deliver.
No-one should now expect the Tories to deliver on their promised attack on the incomes of the elderly. That would never command a majority in the Commons. No-one should expect a feeble set of demands in the BREXIT negotiations. Despite what the Establishment hacks are trumpeting in the media, the British public voted to LEAVE the EU and to take back control of our borders. In the General Election around 90% of those who bothered to vote voted for parties promising to leave the EU Internal Market (incorrectly described as the Single Market). That means that any political party that brings down the Government during the BREXIT process would inevitably bring down the wrath of the voters upon itself. For the time being Parliament is going to be fully occupied with BREXIT.
The Undercutting of Wages.
At this point it has to be clear, even to Philip Hammond, that by undercutting the labour market the end result is a significant reduction in the tax take. Furthermore it has to be clear that by importing people to work on (or below) the minimum wage you end up with a colossal benefits bill. This means that the productivity ills of the country are compounded and made worse. Government expenditure will inexorably rise as a proportion of GDP since GDP per capita will continue to shrink.
A Truce and How To Take Advantage of It.
Smaller parties should take advantage of what will become a two-year truce to build up resources because, as sure as eggs is eggs, there will be a General Election as soon as the BREXIT deal is done. Empty rhetoric will resound around the House of Commons but no-one is going to provoke a General Election. Apart from anything else, no political party could afford the campaign.
Next time UKIP must not make the same mistake as this time. Yes it is reasonable to devote extra resources where there is the greatest chance of being elected but democracy demands there is a contest in every constituency. Relying on candidates to keep funding deposits and their own election expenses is no way to continue. The party needs to create a ring-fenced election fund from which every candidate should be able to draw the cost of a deposit and a circular to every household. By not standing in every constituency, or at least the majority of them the party gives the impression it is not serious about being elected. If there is a shortage of candidates the rules allow individuals to stand in more than one constituency. Everyone should have the opportunity to vote for UKIP.
Reform of UKIP.
UKIP needs, also, to reform itself. Bringing back Nigel Farage will not be the magic wand some think. Both he and the party would need to understand that without the support of the membership there will be no future. That support will be conditional on a process being developed to include the members in the development of policy. Paul Nuttall has resigned, quite rightly, but he should never have been elected party leader. That he was is indicative of a number of problems. There is something distinctly nasty hovering around the central administration of the party and the rules are not fit for purpose. The NEC should not be able to modify the rules. The NEC is there to take day to day decisions as constrained by the Constitution and Rules. The rules should be properly thought out and decided by a vote of the members. No-one should be able to become leader of the party unless they can command the support of more than half the membership.