The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Labour wins...Kensington?

A few minutes ago, the Central London constituency of Kensington was declared for Labour candidate Emma Dent Coad, who defeated incumbent MP Lady Victoria Borwick by 20 votes.

Imagine Bernie Sanders winning Kenilworth, Ill., or Beverly Hills, Calif., and you have a good idea how weird this is. Citylab explains:

[T]he richest cluster of neighborhoods in Europe has just for the first time in its history voted in an MP from the center-left Labour Party.

It may be understandably hard for an American reader to understand how seismic this shift is. The U.K.’s Labour Party, which first rose to prominence as an explicitly socialist party in the 1920s, has never had much of a foothold with the old guard that Kensington is associated with. It’s historically been to the left of U.S. Democrats, a position it has returned to under current leader Jeremy Corbyn, who's stood on a platform of nationalizing railways and postal services and abolishing university fees. This isn’t like citizens of the Upper East Side or Bel Air cheerleading for Hillary. It’s like raising the red flag over Downton Abbey.

That’s because, despite its wealth, Kensington is one of the most drastically unequal areas in all of Britain.

The residents behind the doors of Kensington’s rows of lavish Victorians may not have voted Conservative because they are not eligible to vote in Britain or are too disconnected from British politics by wealth and habit to care overly about who represents a place they merely breeze through. That means that Kensington’s electoral decisions are increasingly being made by those who remain in the district full-time, who might as well be living on a completely different planet.

In the area’s northern reaches, it’s a different story. A place where pretty Victorian streets give way densely populated public housing (including Brutalist icon the Trellick Tower) this area doesn’t look at all bad, and is even somewhat chi-chi in patches. Much of it is still populated by an ethnically diverse range of residents who, in austerity-hit Britain, are having a very tough time indeed. Their homes may be located within 15 minutes walk of some of the world’s wealthiest citizens, but poorer residents’ access to good jobs and (beyond public housing tenancies guarded like Fabergé eggs) affordable housing is limited and getting worse.

The political storm that flipped Kensington is happening on a wider scale across the U.K.

Last night was such an embarrassment for Teresa May it's just hard to wrap my head around it. She's made a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to form a coalition, so she'll hang on to her job. But the DUP's 10 seats plus the Tories' 318 give her a two-vote majority in the 650-seat House of Commons—not exactly a mandate. So when's the next election? On an over-under, I'd bet on before the end of 2018.

Mrs May's own goal

Well. What a difference a few weeks can make. Last night, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who called a snap election in April to shore up her majority in Parliament, discovered that she no longer had a majority in Parliament:

 

We are heading for a hung parliament. The UK’s first-past-the-post electoral system means hung parliaments rarely happen in Britain, but it was the case following the 1974 election and most recently in 2010.

In the case of a hung parliament, the leader of the party with the most seats is given the opportunity to try to form a government. This can take two forms: one option is a formal coalition with other parties, in which the coalition partners share ministerial jobs and push through a shared agenda.

The other possibility is a more informal arrangement, known as “confidence and supply”, in which the smaller parties agree to support the main legislation, such as a budget and Queen’s speech put forward by the largest party but do formally take part in government.

May or her successor as Conservative leader will have the chance to try to form a government. She could attempt to scramble together a formal coalition of other parties, possibly including the DUP, that would take her over the threshold needed to obtain a House of Commons majority. Alternatively she may try to lead a minority government if she can convince other parties to back her in a vote of confidence.

If the Tories fail to form an alliance, Jeremy Corbyn could attempt to strike a deal with the SNP, the Lib Dems, the nationalist parties from Northern Ireland and the Greens. But this is an unlikely scenario.

Other reactions to the UK's election surprise:

And one other item of interest, especially as I'm visiting the Ancestral Homeland in August: Sterling dropped 2% against the dollar overnight, and is now, at $1.27 to the pound, near it's 10-year low of $1.20.

So much for the five-year plan

Back in 2011, after holding elections in 2005 and 2010, the British Parliament made an all-party agreement to hold elections every five years instead of just when the government needed to shore up their power. Today PM Theresa May tore up that agreement:

In a surprise statement outside Downing Street on Tuesday morning, the prime minister claimed that opposition parties were jeopardising her government’s preparations for Brexit.

“We need a general election and we need one now,” she said. “I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion but now I have concluded it is the only way to guarantee certainty for the years ahead.”

May claimed the decision she would put to voters in the election, the announcement of which was a tightly guarded secret known only by her closest aides, would be all about “leadership”.

Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, May cannot call an election directly, but she said she would lay down a motion in the House of Commons. This will require two-thirds of MPs to back it.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, said he welcomed the decision, suggesting his MPs would back the Commons motion.

No, Corbyn, you feckless twat, don't do it! You really don't get how this will screw the Labour Party, do you?

My prediction: Labour loses seats, the Liberal Democrats vanish entirely, and the Scottish National Party completely take over Scotland, ensuring five more years of Conservative rule and a bruising battle over Scottish independence.

Lunchtime links

Stuff I'll read before rehearsal today:

Back to the mines...

More stuff to read

Even though there are about 58 hours left in the year, I still have work to do. Meanwhile, a few things to read have crossed my RSS feeds:

OK, back to work.

First of two posts: all the politics

Before discussing the most important sports story in North America since...well, since the States were United, let me highlight some of the political and professional stories percolating:

Stay tuned for the real story of the day.

More reading this evening

I'm a little disappointed with the Cubs' 6-5 loss to the Giants last night, but they get another crack at them tonight. I'll probably watch—while writing software. Meanwhile, here are some articles I wish I'd had more time to read:

Go Cubs, and back to work.

Sunday morning reading

Ah, I can finally take a few minutes to read through my backlog of articles, which have a common theme coming off this past week's events:

That, plus a tour of the Laguintas Brewery this afternoon (the one here, not the one in Petaluma), ought to keep me busy.

Number 1, mister Speaker

This morning, Theresa May had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, and in addition to her duties in the House, will have further such meetings this afternoon:

I'm not necessarily a Theresa May supporter, but this was her first PMQs. I also love that the House of Commons now publishes PMQs within a couple of hours, so I never have to miss them.

Can anyone imagine what question time would be like with Donald Trump at the dispatch box? I can. It would not be like this.