Saturday, November 01, 2014

UK Political Tremors

Political parties in the UK at present are   interestingly at least to those who follow them, and unusually in a state of flux. For many years the country has essentially enjoyed if that is the right word, a mainly two party system. This has resulted in periods of Tory rule followed by periods  of Labour rule.

In previous years at least up until the end of C20  the party in power could make substantial political decisions not all  of which were with the benefit of hindsight successful. Thus in the  1950s:

"In 1954 the withdrawal of British and French troops from the Suez base was agreed. Withdrawal took place in 1956, and weeks afterwards Nasser nationalised the Canal. The British and French sent troops to re-occupy the canal but the US used economic pressure to force a withdrawal, ending British involvement."

That was clearly an inapt involvement by the UK Tory Government. On the other hand the Thatcher government's reaction to the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands was to fight to oust the invaders and as the BBC records:

"Seven weeks after the Argentines invaded, the first major British troop landing began at San Carlos on 21 May. The plan was to launch attacks from there on Goose Green and Stanley.
The battle for Goose Green lasted a day and night and was fiercely fought, with many dead. British troops were hugely outnumbered but ultimately successful.
Victory meant British forces were clear to break out of San Carlos and begin the long march east towards Stanley. Carrying 120lb packs on their backs, the troops fought their way across the peat bogs of East Falkland before mounting their final attack on the last line of Argentine defence, the high ground around Stanley.
With their defences breached, the Argentines surrendered. On 14 June troops marched into Stanley and the town was liberated."

However since the start of C21 British involvement in war has been as a part of a coalition usually led by the USA. Some of that involvement has  been disastrous as in Labour's Tony Blairs decision to support the USA in invading Iraq based on supposed weapons of mass destruction being a severe risk to all and sundry. A false view and questions are asked to this day whether that falsehood was by accident or design.

My own view  however is that both Labour and Tory governments' involvement of UK forces in Afghanistan from 2001 was justified. Whatever the political reason for being involved  the fact remains that the female half of the the population there was being subjugated en masse. Either we looked on and attempted nothing  or we  acted  for the common good of mankind even if the political aim was in fact  something else. 

Our involvement in Afghanistan is now coming to an end so the jury will be out for a while but meanwhile imho we pull out with heads held high.

Reverting though to the British political system: The withdrawal from Hong Kong in 1997 illustrates  very well the diminishing power of the UK which nonetheless seems intrinsically positive. 

At the same time as British power in the world is diminishing the British population  appears to be looking inwardly upon itself with a view perhaps to compensating for the reduction in that power. Thus many people of Scotland  considered that that part of the UK  might  be more powerful at least as regards Scottish people, by becoming self governing. The clear majority who voted against Scottish independence notwithstanding, the SNP now seems to be going from strength to strength presumably with a view to maximising the Scottish influence in the UK. 

Meanwhile in England the party which seems to be looking most inwardly is UKIP which nonetheless is attracting many supporters. Those in Wales and Northern Ireland too are more vocal now in their quest for maximising their own influences within the UK.

Yet the big UK cities too especially London, are also seeking a greater ability to manage themselves free from the financial shackles of other parts of the UK. Doubtless this will result in new local   political parties coming into being although this is still largely only supposition. 

In C19 and the first half of C20 there was not so far as I know any real attempt by London or other UK cities to maximise self government or the raising of  new local taxation before the introduction of fees for private transport into Town. While the UK was so heavily involved in world affairs looking outwards rather than inwards was the political order of the day. We are less so now. Is the growth of inward looking political parties  at the same time, just coincidental?

The increasingly inward looking direction of the  UK people from the end of C20 that is being taken, seems likely to give a strange result to the UK general election in May 2015.

Gone will be the simple switches between Tory and Labour governments and even  the relatively uncomplicated Lib/Tory coalition  which exists at present seems unllkely to recur next year while the Liberal party loses popularity with its own voters and the Conservative party supporters switch in droves to UKIP. 

If the SNP successes in 2015 are largely at the expense of the Scottish Labour Party the likelihood of some kind of new coalition government increases substantially:

 - But who will then govern with whom?

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