Yesterday’s general election in the U.K. delivered a landslide win for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Some other parties got eviscerated.
But the victory was only partly due to Johnson. The weakness of the opposition Labour Party had more than a bit-part in the drama of the last few weeks.
Johnson’s victory gives the ruling center-right Conservative Party an overall majority of 364 seats in the House of Commons, or 56% of the total 650 available. It is the biggest win since Margaret Thatcher’s landslide win in 1987. One seat remained undecided at the time of writing.
Labour, currently an ultra-left party, bagged a total of 203 seats. It was a disastrous outcome for the party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has said he’ll step down after a period of reflection for the organization.
“This was the worst result of Labour in 80 years,” states a recent report from New York-based bank Brown Brothers Harriman.
Although that’s dire, it’s not as bad as what happened to Jo Swinson, the leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats. She didn’t manage to keep her parliamentary seat. Usually, party chiefs get offered so-called safe parliamentary seats to ensure that they remain as M.P.s. Not so this time, apparently.
Her party bagged only 11 seats.
What Was Behind the Boris Win?
Here are a few critical things to behind the historic Conservative Party win.
Part of the appeal of the Boris Johnson-led Conservative Party is that he promised to get Brexit done and leave the European Union. Increasingly the British people are sick of the Brexit delay.
The 2016 referendum indicated the people wanted to leave the European Union. Whether or not most people still want to leave or not, an even more significant majority would seem to want the impasse to end.
In other words, the public’s message to the government is poop or get off the pot. And that’s something Johnson promised to fix, one way or the other.
But Johnson’s Brexit pledge is only part of the story.
The Liberal Democrats, decisively wanted to remain in the E.U. If resolving the matter of either staying or leaving once-and-for-all was the only question, then the election result may have been significantly different.
The deciding factor should probably rest at the feet of Jeremy Corbyn, who ran a campaign rife with what look like elementary missteps.
Most notably, under his leadership the Labour Party has failed to shake allegations of institutional antisemitism. This matter has lingered for a long time, and Corbyn has been unable to act decisively enough to prove to voters that the party doesn’t loathe Jewish people or treat them with disrespect.
Accusations by current and former Jewish Labour MPs made the optics worse.
Another significant issue includes his ultra-leftist stance on the economy. One of the Labour Party’s main electioneering promises was to nationalize some key industries. Anyone who lived in the U.K. through the 1960s and 1970s will remember previous periods of nationalization and what a disaster that became. Electricity shortages and rail strikes were more the norm that not.
The FTSE 250, which tracks a basket of largely domestically focused British stocks, rallied more than 4% Friday morning on the news of the landslide. The market’s surge reflected investor relief that their assets would now not get confiscated because Corbyn won’t be in office.
“The Wall Street consensus has now fallen back in love with U.K. equities and expectations are high for the FTSE 100 Index to outperform the other major indexes over the next few months,” states a recent report from UK-based Broker OANDA.
In other words, with Corbyn out of the picture, British stocks should continue grinding higher after years of treading water.
Third, Corbyn seems to keep the company of people that many voters find alarming. In particular, he has made statements that on the face of it would appear to condone acts of terrorism. Such statements were made worse by the fact that Sinn Fein bigwig Jerry Adams, once seen as the political voice of the Provisional IRA, endorsed Corbyn.
Enough English voters remember the horror the IRA’s mainland bombing campaign of the 1970s and 1980s to get revulsed by any connection to it.
To be fair, this may be an instance of guilt by association from voters. Nevertheless, Corbyn may have been wiser to read the population a little more carefully.