The Affair by Lee Child. Another flashback Jack Reacher novel, going back to his time in the army. Also another good one: sets up the mystery well, atmospheric, and filling in some gaps in the story.
So, there was an election, polls predicted a hung parliament, actually got a slim Conservative majority. I did post a couple of things on the problems of polls, though I was hoping for an upset the other way.
Bit dejected at the result, but trying to look at whatever bright side there is. On the plus side: there's no chaos. I'm not a fan of coalitions especially after reading accounts of the casual and cynical way pledges were abandoned last time, so at least we have a majority government which has to be accountable to its promises (no VAT rise, massive increase in NHS spending, etc. I was in favour of Scottish independence and this seems to make it more likely, though most plausibly in a de facto sense where the Union remains technically intact but almost all power is devolved.
On the other hand there are definite risks. It's hard to evaluate them without knowing the unanswerable question of whether the politicians are really as dumb as their statements profess.technically intact but almost all power is devolved.
As Paul Krugman has documented the economic story of the coalition is that they had far too much austerity initially which was catastrophic for growth from 2010 to 2013. They then eased off austerity leading to blip of growth in 2014 which was their electoral selling point. So the big question is whether George Osborne has learned from his mistake, or with the election over is he going to go back to his disastrous initial strategy.
Civil liberties are definitely at risk with the revived Snoopers Charter and plans to criminalise vaguely defined "extremism": hopefully there are some new David Davis's waiting on the Tory back bench to oppose them. And while I don't mind Scottish independence, an ugly secession crisis could cause problems all round if Cameron blunders into it.
We just have to wait and see. I might try writing to my newly elected Tory MP to see if I can get her to do anything when there are concrete proposals.
Regarding why the polls failed, nobody knows yet. To find out, the pollsters will have to do more research, following up on previous results, looking at demographics in detail. However, there are some early hints at an answer, which the media and columnists have completely ignored so they can jump to conclusions instead.
This time round it does not seem to be "Shy Tories" (Conservative voters who would not admit it to the pollsters) who are the problem. Instead it may be "Keen Labour": people who told the pollsters they would vote Labour, but never actually showed up. There seem to be demographic problems in weighting the samples correctly.
The actual voters were older, richer and more likely to be homeowners than the pollsters thought. Turnout issues seem to be important. Also the behaviour in the marginals was difficult to predict. There was little exchange between Labour and the Conservatives, but the Cons were much more successful at harvesting Liberal votes in the marginals. As some predicted, UKIP seem to have hurt Labour more than the Conservatives because they took away votes in the marginals. More UKIP voters overall come from the Conservatives, but that seems to have come in safe seats where it had little impact.
Election: Labour response
The Labour party is in a difficult situation, squeezed from all sides. In Scotland they've been defeated by an SNP that rhetorically claims to be to their left. In England they've lost support to UKIP in key marginals. They gained a big chunk of the collapsed Lib Dem vote, but the Conservatives got a smaller chunk where it counted. They've lost millions of potential voters who preferred them when contacted by pollsters, but didn't show up at the polling booths. While Labour has held on to its middle class vote, it's working class vote has fallen with C1,C2,DE voters abandoning them in droves. They didn't lose many votes to the Conservatives, but didn't make gains against them either.
Normally when a party loses, a cry goes up from the activists that this is a clear sign they need to stop chasing the centre, start Standing Up For What They Believe in, and veer sharply to the left/right. Usually this is idiotic: the centre is where the votes are. In this case though, it's not necessarily wrong: the big problem for Labour is the working class votes they've lost, not their share of the Blair-attracted middle class who stayed with them.
Labour definitely needs some kind of powerful motivator to get people who are weakly inclined to them to actually vote. However, it's going to be difficult to do that without losing the middle class.
I think the useful thing that can be learned from Lynton Crosby is that for literally years he had Conservative ministers repeating the same simple formulas. Most people don't pay much attention to politics, and it's very hard to get through. I think Nick Cleggs appeal to Generation Rent was a good idea, but far too late, announced only a few weeks before the election. This kind of thing needs to be hammered home for a long time. I think Labour didn't quite get the new reality of interminably long election campaigns created by the Fixed Term Parliaments Act: you can't do all your campaigning in a few weeks.
Another problem is the media which is more relentlessly Tory than eve. With the press mostly owned by non-doms and ex-pats (Sun, Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independent, Evening Standard etc) any party that wants reasonable tax fairness is going to hit a wall of hostility.
Finally, the electoral system seems to have flipped against Labour: "On an equal amount of votes – 34.5% a piece – the Conservatives would have almost fifty seats more than Labour, Labour would need to have a lead of about four points over the Conservatives just to get the most seats in a hung Parliament."
Overall, I find it hard to see how Labour can fight back effectively, unless there are collapses in the other parties which are possible.
Politics. What Do French Muslims Think About the PEN/'Charlie Hebdo' Controversy? Human Rights Act abolition will be no 'quick win' for the Tories . Who came second in the election? Why the Right loves privilege politics.
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