Everyone Loses In Britain`s Election. Could be A Good Thing.
I have been
asked to write for VDARE.COM`s mostly American
readership about the British general election of May 6
2010. In trying to do this, I am at a double
disadvantage. First, most Americans naturally know
little about Britain. Second, this is a drama unfolding
by the hour. Whatever I write now (Sunday evening, May
9) will be out of date shortly.
I will arrange
my comments under three headings: How the System Works
in General: How the System Worked on This Occasion; What
the Meaning of All This Might be for Liberty and
1. How the System Works in General
The House of
Commons is the central body of British government. It is
made up of 650 Members, including the Speaker. Each
Member of Parliament [MP] represents one geographical
district of roughly equal population, called a
He is elected by the
"first past the post system", which means that the
winner of the seat needs to gain a majority of one over
any other candidate. In other words, it is elected on
the same basis as the U.S. House of
Representatives—which, however, shares power with the
U.S. Senate and the President.
this election process can lead to overall outcomes in
which one of the main parties gains a majority of the
total votes cast, but another wins a majority of seats
in the House of Commons. This happens rarely in Britain.
But over the last half-century or so, the British
political party system has fragmented to a much greater
degree than has happened in the U.S. (yet). As a result,
it has become common for a party to get a small majority
in overall votes cast, but a large Commons majority.
Thus in the
last general election, Labour won 356 seats and a
substantial Commons majority with 36.9 per cent of the
vote—which, on a turnout of 61.3 per cent, meant that it
won with just over 22 per cent of the total possible
consequence of this system: small parties are
effectively blocked from the House of Commons. For
example, in the 2010 general election, the United
Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)
got around a million votes and the British National
got around half a million votes. (Both are fiercely
opposed to immigration). But these were votes picked up
across the country as a whole. Because neither party won
a majority of the vote in one specific constituency,
neither party has any seats in the House of Commons.
Indeed, even the
smallest of the three main parties is at a disadvantage.
In the 2010 general election, the Liberal Democrats won
23 per cent of the votes cast and got 57 seats, while
Labour won 29 per cent, and got 258 seats.
There are about
a dozen nationalists from Wales, Scotland and Northern
Ireland—referred to in Britain as the "Celtic" fringe.
Otherwise, every seat is held by the three main
parties—Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat.
For all they
squabble over secondary issues, these are what may be
called parties of the
committed to the present order of things.
democratic legitimacy of the outcome, the party that
wins an overall majority of seats in the House of
Commons is allowed to form the Government. That is, the
leader of the largest party becomes Prime Minister, and
then appoints all the other Ministers.
controls the House of Commons has absolutely unlimited
power over the life, liberty and property of everyone in
Britain has no
written constitution, no entrenched bill of rights, no
counterbalancing institutions. Back in
the British Constitution was regarded as a balance of
Crown, Lords and Commons, each able to check the other.
Many judges and politicians also believed that there
were certain fundamental laws that the courts could
uphold against combined attack by Crown, Lords and
Commons. This was the
for the American Constitution.
Lords have lost their blocking veto. The
Crown—especially during the reign of
Useless" (1952-)—has given up all attempt to
preserve the Constitution from attack. The courts have
accepted the doctrine of the absolute legislative
supremacy of Parliament—which means of whoever controls
the House of Commons.
In theory, an
Act of Parliament—even passed by a majority of one in a
Commons where the governing party received perhaps ten
per cent of the total possible vote—could order the
execution of every man in the country with
hair. It could make it an offence to whistle in the
Act 1947, and try sending out a new
Viceroy to govern
that three plus five equals nine. Regardless of its
morality or physical means of enforcement, such an Act
would be regarded by the courts as
absolutely binding within the
For a long time,
this peculiar doctrine was allowed to do little harm.
The House of Commons was dominated by members of the old
ruling class, and these made sure to govern as if
constrained by an entrenched constitution. By a process
of gradual change during the 20th century,
however, the old ruling class was displaced first in its
personnel and then in its values.
This was a
gradual process, and no single year can easily be chosen
to mark the transition. Whatever year is chosen,
despotic laws can be adduced from before, and successful
insistences on the old norms can be adduced from after.
But perhaps the two most important dates were the
election years of 1979 and 1997.
In the first of
Thatcher`s Conservative Government was elected
at a time of crisis. It believed its agenda of
economic and political change should not be limited by
any constitutional norm.
In the second,
Tony Blair`s Labour Government was elected. It used the
precedents set by the Thatcher and Major Governments to
a Politically Correct
reasonably free country into a police state. I have a
good legal background. Even so, I no longer know what
the laws are or how they are enforced. Indeed, it
probably no longer matters what the laws say, as the
police and administration often make them up as they
Around 5,000 new
criminal offences have been created. In the name of
government power has been imposed into every area of
private life. Call someone a "bloody immigrant", and go
Refuse to accommodate homosexuals in your hotel, and
go to prison.
Refuse to employ an atheist in your religious school,
and be shut down.
your own business premises, or allow others to smoke,
and go to prison.
Photograph a police officer while he is breaking the law,
and go to prison. Upset a police officer, and be
arrested, and have your DNA taken and stored on a
database that is shared with several dozen foreign
governments. Keep a
firearm in your home for self-defence, and go to
prison for five years.
habeas corpus has been
abolished. We have serious criminal
trials without juries. [First trial
without jury approved, BBC News, June 18, 2009]
The rule against
double jeopardy has been abolished.
similar fact evidence can be introduced. The police
and 20,000 civil servants have the right to conduct
warrantless searches of our homes. The police can
authorise each other to break into homes to plant
listening devices. Despite solid opposition, Labour is
about to force to carry biometric identity cards that
will give the authorities the ability to
spy on—and therefore to control—every aspect of our
Nobody knows how
Third World immigrants have been
encouraged to settle in the country. The official
population of the
60 million. Based on sales of basic foodstuffs, the
supermarkets believe the true population to be closer to
80 million. . [City
Eye: Facts on a plate: our population is at least 77
Martin Baker, October
28, 2007]It is impossible to say, as the true
figures are either not collected or are hidden.
We know that the
great majority of immigrants who have been granted
the Labour Party. There is also much anecdotal
evidence—though this is not mentioned in the Main Stream
Media—that illegal immigrants and
"asylum seekers" are being registered to vote so
that they can increase the Labour share of the vote.
laws date back to a
time when nearly everyone in the country was a
citizen. Registration to vote was a formality for when
someone reached the age of majority or moved house. The
law is based on trust—and this trust is easily abused by
a little perjury that is then connived at by the
pro-Labour administrators who control most of
As a libertarian
patriot, I take a less pessimistic view of immigration
than other patriots. However, what we presently have is
state-sponsored mass-immigration. This has been a
deliberate policy of the British ruling class to break
up resistance to despotism—recently
Andrew Neather, one of Tony Blair`s speechwriters.
When people are sufficiently balkanised, they will
suspect each other more than the authorities.
None of the
Regime parties will do anything about immigration. It
must be said, though, that of the three the
Conservatives have dropped the strongest hints that they
country has been formally enslaved to the centralised,
bureaucratic European Union, which now makes most of the
laws not mentioned above. And the country`s foreign
policy has become a matter of slavishly assisting in
whatever act of imperialism and mass-murder the U.S.
Government may see fit to begin. The
Iraq and Afghan Wars serve no British interest. They
have resulted in perhaps millions of deaths. They were
majorities of British opinion. They went ahead
3. How the System Worked on This Occasion
How any main
opposition party could fight an election campaign
against our Government of unindicted traitors and war
criminals, and not win an overall majority of 300, is a
cause for astonishment. But that is what the
Conservative party has just managed. It got 36 per cent
of a 65 per cent turnout—that is, it won just over 23
per cent of the total possible vote.
Conservatives did emerge as the largest single party in
terms both of votes and seats. But of course a party
needs 326 seats in the House of Commons to have an
overall majority. The Conservatives got 306 seats,
making them twenty short of a majority.
The cause of
this astonishing failure was the leadership of
David Cameron. It would be hard to think of anyone
who could not have led the Conservatives to victory
after thirteen years of what we have had. The problem is
that Mr Cameron is just that person. He refuses to
or immigration except in the mildest and most plainly
fraudulent terms. He claims to be a fanatical
environmentalist. He has accepted nearly the whole of
the Labour Revolution.
disagreements with Labour have not been entirely
cosmetic. He and his party are better than Labour on
many issues. But these are not issues critical to
And there is no
doubt that several million people who would have voted
to save their nation decided it was not worth the effort
of voting for a Conservative Government led by someone
who looks and tries to sound depressingly like Tony
voting for a different man to front the same policies of
treason and destruction?
And so no party
can be said to have won the election. Here, for the sake
of completeness, are the results so far:
It will be seen
that, while the Conservatives did not get an overall
majority, the Labour Party was badly hit, and the
Liberal Democrats lost seats. Nobody won in the usual
sense. So far as this is possible within a zero-sum
game, they all lost.
It is worth
asking why no other party made a breakthrough in this
election. UKIP promises to withdraw from the
European Union, and does well in elections to the
European Parliament. The BNP promises the same, plus a
more radical approach to immigration and
also does well in European elections. There is much
anecdotal evidence that
election issues in many parts of the country. Yet
neither party won seats in this election, and neither
did outstandingly well in terms of votes.
The answer is,
again, the electoral system. Small parties are so
ruthlessly squeezed that hardly anyone feels much
incentive to vote for them. Anyone can stand for
election in this country. But the rules of the game give
a decisive advantage to the three
parties. I might, for example, have voted for UKIP on
May 6. That party seems best to represent my opinions.
But one vote for UKIP is one vote fewer for the
might let in a
Labour Member of Parliament. I must choose between a
party that I want and a party that can keep out another
party that I hate and fear.
It would take
much more discontent than there now is among the British
people to bring about a revolutionary change in party
representation. Until then, the majority of votes will
continue going to the three
parties. Unlike the minor parties, these have agreed
among themselves not to argue over the issues of most
critical importance to national survival.
At the same
time, they do offer just enough variety on lesser issues
to make it arguably worth voting for them.
What the Meaning of All This Might be
for Liberty and Tradition
There are two
further matters to discuss. These are what will happen,
and what should libertarians and traditionalists want to
happen. The first question seems easy to answer. If we
add the Conservative and Liberal Democrat seats
together, we get 363—which is enough for stable control
of the House of Commons. Whether the parties co-operate
in a formal coalition, or whether the Liberal Democrats
simply agree to let the Conservatives govern with a
minority, is unimportant. What does matter is that these
two parties together can enable reasonable stability of
This being said,
the Labour Government has not gone away. Gordon Brown
remains Prime Minister, and he is desperately offering
the Liberal Democrats anything they might want, if only
they will support his continuation in office.
however, is that the Labour and Liberal Democrat do not
together add up to an overall majority. That could only
be got from including the
nationalists. Their price would be a wash of English tax
money over their own regions even greater than is now
the case. The resulting coalition of four or five
parties would have an overall majority, but would be
unstable and often paralysed.
And so, what
almost certainly will happen is some kind of agreement
between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties.
As said, this is a drama unfolding by the hour. Anything
might yet happen. But I really cannot see what else can
happen but some kind of Conservative and Liberal
Now, to the more
interesting question of what we should want to happen. I
will emphasis that this was not an election from which
any attractive government was likely to emerge.
options were and are varying degrees of the undesirable.
The worst outcome, of course, would have been a
re-elected Labour Government. This would have led
straight to the abolition of what little remains of this
But a hardly
less desirable outcome would have been an outright
Conservative majority. This would have allowed David
Cameron to announce that he had a mandate to carry on
almost exactly like Labour. Nothing substantial would
have changed—except there would have been a fresh team
to drive on the work of destruction.
The least bad
outcome would have been a big Conservative
majority—rather like Labour got in 1997. This,
paradoxically, would have weakened David Cameron. Almost
every Conservative candidate likely to win a seat at
this election had been hand-picked by him. Right up to a
majority of about thirty, Conservative Members of
Parliament would have been ready to vote exactly as
But the bigger
the majority beyond that, the larger the number of real
conservatives who would have been elected—ready to
demand action on the most important issues. These could
have formed a bloc of several dozen Members, able to
embarrass or even to threaten the Government.
The next least
bad outcome—is the one we seem likely to get. A
Conservative and Liberal Democrat agreement will not
change policy on the European Union, the American
alliance, immigration, multiculturalism, the response to
alleged man-made climate change, the dominance of big
business corporatism, or much else. But, on other
issues, there will be a few welcome changes. Such a
will abolish identity cards and the database state that
it fronts. It will probably not
home schooling. It may rein in the police and the
things already promised by the Conservatives. Since they
are also promised by the Liberal Democrats, there is
every reason to suppose some good will happen.
important, however, is that the Liberal Democrats will
demand reform of the electoral system. The existing
method of electing Members of Parliament will be
replaced by something that less randomly correlates
votes cast to seats gained.
Democrats have been arguing for this almost since the
collapse of the old Liberal Party in the 1920s. But
neither of the larger parties had any interest in
changing a system that worked so much to their own
alternating advantage. Now, it may well happen.
Democrat—indeed, the general—assumption is that
electoral reform will simply mean that the Conservative
and Labour parties will continue to exist, but will need
to go into routine coalition with an enlarged Liberal
Democrat bloc in the House of Commons.
more likely is that any change in the electoral system
will corrode the glue that holds all the main parties
together. Without the iron logic of the
first-past-the-post system, what else could force
Burkean Tories, classical liberals, semi-libertarians,
and Christian democrats into one Conservative Party? The
same question might be asked of the factions that make
up the Labour and even the Liberal Democrat parties.
At the same
time, bringing some proportionality into the electoral
system would allow the minor parties into the House of
Commons. UKIP, the BNP, and perhaps the English
Democrats and others, would now have a greater chance of
never add up to a majority of Members. They would, even
so, provide a radical opposition to the Regime that is
not now provided.
There is a
further outcome that might not actually be too bad in
the long term. This is an agreement between Labour and
the Liberal Democrats. As said, this could only exist
with the additional support of the
parties. It would, from the start, be a useless
Government—rather like the more exotic coalitions that
come to power in
belief in national survival. It would terrify the
But at the same
time, it would be so obviously a
"coalition of the
losers", and so obviously a fraud on the English—who
unlike the Scotch and Welsh,
mostly Conservative—that it might delegitimize the whole
system and bring about a fundamental reconstruction much
faster than would otherwise be the case.
though, we pass beyond the realms of what seems
possible. For the moment, it is enough to say that the
political drama presently to be seen in
is entertaining, so far as it shows the varying defeat
of all three main parties.
But its outcome
seems predictable. And that outcome, dire though it will
seem in the short term, may not be so bad in the longer
Dr. Sean Gabb
is a writer, academic, broadcaster and Director of the
in England. His monograph Cultural Revolution,
Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to
Get It Back is downloadable
For his account of the
Property and Freedom Society`s 2008 conference
in Bodrum, Turkey, click
For his address to the 2009 PFS conference, “What is
the Ruling Class?”, click
for videos of the