A good day for Britain (and New Zealand)

I went to bed on Thursday night wondering how the British General Election was getting on. When I got up on Friday, polls had just closed and UK Labour were leading. It was in the very early stages and I knew the Conservative Party would fight back, but the winds of a shocker were in the air.

And that is precisely what happened. To govern with a majority, Prime Minister Theresa May needed 326 seats out of 650 in the U.K. Parliament. The Conservatives could only manage 311 on a night when the British people showed their disgust with the inflammatory populist politics of Nigel Farage and his United Kingdom Independence Party, and the Scottish National Party were reined in (more on both later).

The real winner in many respects was Labour. When Mrs May called the election, Labour was expected to suffer a landslide defeat. The odds looked dreadful for its leader Jeremy Corbyn and his brand of true leftist politics. The media empire of Rupert Murdoch was out to destroy Mr Corbin, wondering how Britain could survive with a Labour leader.

But luck was on Mr Corbyn’s side Mrs May, in a disastrous campaign shot herself in the foot several times. Her most disastrous move was to tell Britain in the days following the Manchester attacks that she would not hesitate to bulldoze human rights law if it would improve her chances of getting at combatting terrorism. The move angered Britons and today they showed their disgust. After all, why would ordinary Britons want to surrender their basic human rights when that would be handing terrorism victory on a gold plate with all the trimmings on the side?

This is good for New Zealand in two respects. Mrs May had announced plans to significantly tighten up visas for New Zealanders going to Britain to work and live. Many also would have been sad to see Mrs May taking the hard stance on human rights that so many Britons and New Zealanders fought side by side for in two world wars.

If Jeremy Corbyn is a happy man, it is highly unlikely United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage is. His party, which held a solitary seat in Parliament was defeated. The reasons for his defeat have been linked to his behaviour in spreading what were known to be lies in the days following Brexit. His populist politics and at times inflammatory statements further added fuel to the fire of self immolation.

It was also a bad day at the office for Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party. In the 2015 election it had picked up 56 seats and was easily the third largest party in the United Kingdom Parliament. It still is, but with only 32 seats still in their hands.

And the doldrums continue for the Liberal Democrats. Their party had peaked in the 2010 General Election where leader Nick Clegg managed to become Deputy Prime Minister, with 56 other Members of Parliament. It crashed to just 8 in 2015, but picked up another 4 seats in 2017.

As for Brexit? It is still on. But who will be overseeing it now, with Mrs May facing calls to go, is not yet clear.

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