Theresa May, Tories Limp Away From The Election. Now What?

The general election on June 8th was, to some, a shocking blow to May and her party’s agenda. Will she be able to recover, what does this mean for Brexit, and will she remain Prime Minister?

My God was that an exciting election. When you think about it, what Jeremy Corbyn did was very similar and, perhaps, more impressive than the epic comeback Donald Trump staged 7ish months ago in these United States. And, as people forget, the excitement was spread around to three and one sixth countries, which may have made this the most electrifying election of the past decade for politics junkies such as myself and, I would think, my readership.

Another thing that people seem to be forgetting is that, as poorly as she and her party did, Theresa May still technically won the election, as the Tories hold a plurality (but not a majority) of seats. It seems likely that May will remain Prime Minister, but anyone who’s watched House of Cards (the original) knows that May will probably have to iron-fistedly strike down some internal dissent, as well as Jeremy Corbyn and his motley crualition, if she wants to keep her job.

Jeremy Corbyn: Bizarro Trump?

Jeremy Corbyn is probably as different from Trump politically as any other mainstream politician, which is to say, completely. There are, however a number of interesting similarities between the trajectories of their respective campaigns, namely that they both came back from deficits against women who, in spite of being more qualified on paper, people loved to hate.

The fact that May and Clinton were able to earn so much contempt from the voters is crucial to the electoral success of Trump and Corbyn, because they too are reviled by many. It took months of kicking asses in the GOP primaries for people to even consider Trump a legitimate candidate, now he’s president. Months ago people were certain Jeremy Corbyn was on his way out as Labour leader, now he’s knocking on the door of 10 Downing Street with an axe getting all “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!” on Theresa May, in a manner of speaking.

But at the same time, Corbyn’s style is so contrary to Trump’s it makes Obama and George W look like brothers (the genetic kind or the black kind, take your pick). Trump hasn’t let a hair grow more than a millimeter on his own face, while the hair on his head is comically unchanged from 30 years ago. Corbyn is grey and sad looking all the time, and his beard is so patchy I’m concerned that he’s actually trying to shave every morning and he’s really coming down with Parkinson’s. Corbyn is thoughtful and cagey, Trump is thoughtless and boisterous. The more I think about it, the more this whole Bizarro Trump thing makes sense.

Comic book nega-worlds aside, I think Corbyn’s comeback was more impressive than Trump’s. I know the popular vote isn’t a perfect comparison since the US uses the electoral college, but it can be helpful. Trump was looking at just over 40% of the popular vote at his nadir in August, three months before the election, and he finished with about 46%. That’s a pretty big swing considering how many people there are in America, but frankly it’s a bit underwhelming. Corbyn and his party, on the other hand, were down 20 goddamn points a MONTH before the election started and ended up losing by 2.4 points (making a difference of 18.6 points!). Again, these comparisons aren’t perfect, but that is insanity. Point Corbyn.

Seeing Orange?

The biggest story coming out of this election is one that I actually predicted. Unfortunately, due to the recent Soviet hacking attacks on BasementBanter’s server, it has been lost in the cloud. I happened to mention that in the event of a hung parliament with the Conservatives as the largest party (which is what happened), if they got 316 seats or more they would likely try an alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, aka the DUP.

At first glance, this seems like a match made in heaven for Theresa May. They have just the right amount of seats to give the Tories a majority if the DUP agrees to vote with them. They both want a hard Brexit. They’re both right-wing. This is all good news for May: with the demise of UKIP, the DUP is the only party in Parliament that falls right of center besides the Conservatives and wouldn’t be likely to block major parts of their agenda.

The thing is, the DUP makes UKIP look like bleeding-heart liberals. They were founded in 1971 by The Reverend Ian Paisley who, in addition to sounding like the name of an awesome band, was the founder of the fundamentalist, anti-Pope, anti-gay Free Presbyterian Church. They were essentially the Unionist party that thought the Ulster Unionist Party (the dominant party at the time aka the UUP) weren’t being hard enough on the Irish/Catholic/Nationalist community, who had been struggling with a great deal of de facto and de jure sectarian discrimination ever since the partition of Northern Ireland (well, they were being oppressed before that, but not by the UUP).

What’s more, as a result of the affiliation with the Free Presbyterian Church, the DUP has social that are extremely traditionalist even by American standards. Here are some quick stats on how the DUP voter base currently feels on a few social issues to give you an idea. You can say a lot of things about crazy things American Republicans believe, but I don’t think you can say that MOST of their voters would mind a lot if someone in their family married someone outside their religion.

The DUP, and probably the Tories, might disagree with the above characterization, and its something of a matter of debate so their specific politics aren’t a huge issue. The main issue is that the DUP and its members have, historically and currently, been linked to an alphabet soup of loyalist paramilitaries, particularly the UDA and UVF. This is, of course, coming after May and the Tories hammered the hell out of Corbyn for his work with Sinn Fein (the Nationalist counterpart to the DUP in NI rn) and alleged links to the Provisional IRA.

In other words, the DUP were a lot better off when no one else in the UK cared about Northern Irish politics. On top of that, you have very legitimate concerns coming out of Ireland (both parts) that the DUP being in government might negatively affect the delicate balance struck by the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrew’s Agreement, since (among other things) the government needs to approve any referendum on Irish unification. God only knows how all of this is going to affect the ongoing negotiations between the DUP and Sinn Fein, who still have yet to form a government in Northern Ireland.

So, I think that it’s a huge gamble for Theresa May to get in bed with Arlene Foster and her DUP. The DUP know that they’re in a big time position of strength in this negotiation because they know they have no business in government anyway, so anything they can get out of this is gravy; they essentially have nothing to lose and can basically jump ship whenever they want because their voter base is quite solid. But for May, the DUP is so unpopular that she’s not making it through any election in the next 2-3 years, so she better hope she can keep the loyalists loyal.

Should we expect another election any time soon? Does Corbyn have a chance at Prime Minister? Check out tomorrow for Part II!

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