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Pretty Pickle!!

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Having been in purdah for the full extent of the General Election campaign, the final exit poll was a complete mystery, as the polls leading up until then were entirely unknown to me. However, before I put before you a dazzling feast of post-election quips, I feel compelled to make a formal declaration.

In my research for further information about the campaign (purely for completeness of information, no gloating in any way), I have read a number of blogs from the lists pushed forward by my internet provider. How shocked I was to find the views of the Scottish Nationalists and blind support for an anti-austerity stance masquerading as unbiased opinion. Not that both sets of views are not acceptable (if not more than a little misguided), but there was no warning and it took a little delving to identify the authors. So I am going to set an example for all bloggers by stating my political position before we go any further. I am basically ‘Middle England’, with sympathies for UKIP, but too pragmatic to consider voting for them. Along with many ‘Middle Englanders’ my mild xenophobia renders me suspicious of the European Union (EU). That is apart from the EU being a grandiose fantasy, dreamed up by the “visionaries” of Europe, which is in the course of inflicting massive harm to its citizens, despite being well meaning. The realistic fear that Ed Miliband might have had to rely on the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) to keep him entrenched as prime minister was middle England’s worst nightmare. So that eliminates all bar two national parties and I am certainly not a Green.

Ok, so now whether you agree with me or not, you know where I am coming from. Despite the threats of a hung parliament, with all the consequent nightmare scenarios, we have ended up with a government that has a majority. That majority is, however, very slim and is likely to gradually disappear over the coming months and years, if previous governments are anything to go by. How the pollsters got their predictions so very wrong in the first place appears to be more of a puzzle to them than probably most of the general public. I have yet to see any allegations that the Tory vote was deliberately understated to encourage ‘Middle England’ to get out and vote. So what did change? What might have made the difference?

I have read many assessments of the result. Vast swathes of the electorate had become comfortable with and pleased about the steady progression from economic disaster to where we are now and so didn’t really want to change things. The opposition failed to recognise that the class war they were threatening to wage, if elected, is becoming less relevant in today’s world; a case of the Westminster village being out of touch with the rest of the country and the Lib Dems suffered from post-coalition blues.

So what are the challenges for this government? As the parliament proceeds there is no doubt that maintaining that majority is going to be tricky, particularly with the SNP being so vehement about “anti austerity” and negotiating Scotland’s position. I am sure that we will hear much in the coming months about the EU and the in/out referendum. There are endless permutations leading up to the referendum, with proposed renegotiations and then finally the vote that we have been allowed, as the EU developed along lines our politicians either never envisioned themselves or hid from the electorate. I am sure that the media will be able to work themselves into quite a frenzy on our behalf. Unfortunately, we will be subjected to a barrage of “facts” from “experts” and probably be informed that we, the public, cannot understand the issues and should not be allowed to decide.

The trickiness of considering the coalition partners is regretfully offset by the prospect of that slim majority. So everything important needs to be squeezed into the first 18 months of this Parliament. The European Referendum, redrawing constituency boundaries to realign votes and seats, the Scottish question and probably some very robust negotiations with Europe. The problem will be that certainly Scotland and Europe are likely to seek to slow everything down, hoping that Cameron’s position will weaken in parliament over the months.

Yes, the new government is pleased to be in place, but the political scene is ever more complex. And what other little teasers are going to crop up? Immigration, a Greek exit from the Euro (throwing the currency markets into a tizzy), a major slowdown in the world economy, a few Tory backbenchers rebelling or resigning. Finally Dave has to consider his successor, as there is no third term for him.
So the election has produced a clear answer and everything is straightforward now? You thought we were sitting pretty with the future pretty as a picture. But sorting out Scotland is going to cost a pretty penny, and pretty much everything could turn into a pretty kettle of fish. Let’s hope for the future.

David Ingall
Past President
UK 200 Group

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