The elections have passed, the Conservatives have remained in office with a dramatically unexpected majority and David Cameron is still Prime Minister. Some people are very happy, others are beginning to throw about standard accusations of rigged votes and the betrayal of the voters etc. But it’s over now, yeah?
I’m afraid not. Now it is time for resignations left right and centre, accusations of various party leaders becoming saboteurs of their own parties, cries from a load of champagne socialist students for Labour to become the true face of socialism and Nigel Farage to be told he is not allowed to resign (or he just plain don’t want to). One of the finest of the various debacles to have followed the election on 7th May was actually the entirety of Miliband’s resignation; it was genuinely fantastic. He was absolutely unstoppable as he accused the general electorate of not knowing what they are doing and claimed that, in spite of losing the election, the Labour party had won the argument!
'Today you’ll feel disappointed, even bleak but while we may have lost the election, the argument of our campaign will not go away: the issue of our unequal country will not go away, this is the challenge of our time, the fight goes on, and whoever is our new leader, I know Labour will keep making the case for a country that works for working people once again.' - Ed Miliband
If you are taking a break from Ibiza to read this piece, Mr Miliband, may I just join Rod Liddle in pointing out that you lost the election as a result of losing the argument? How is it in any way possible that you have won an argument by losing an election. If you do get the opportunity to explain how you can win an argument but not an election, I would greatly appreciate it. I am also going to have to continue in my support of Liddle by pointing out that promoting the message that the electorate are careless, god-awful people or morons who don’t know what they’re doing is not generally the best way to rebuild support for a party. This may sound strong but is an evident subtext throughout Mr Miliband’s “won the argument” resignation speech.
Miliband’s resignation has led to a promising race for leadership of the labour party. For the meantime Harriet Harman has taken over leadership but there have been a variety of bids from a number of candidates. One of the most interesting aspects of this new competition has been Chuka Umunna’s move for leadership. The second candidate to bid, the Labour rising star and MP for Streatham was quick to become the favourite for the position. However, after just 3 days of intense media attention, the Shadow Business Secretary withdrew his bid, dismissing all rumours of various skeletons in the closet and simply stating that the whole thing was too much too soon. This comes across as a relatively dubious claim and can’t help but think that he was concerned about how the media was digging, but I can only speculate.
Since Mr Umunna’s resignation, Andy Burnham has become the new favourite with the bookies. Dan Jarvis, the ex-parachute regiment officer and MP for Barnsley Central, disappointed Labour activists by not standing but has pledged his backing to Andy Burnham alongside the shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves. Other top contenders include the MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, Yvette Cooper - although I can’t help but think that her being married to one of the orchestrators of this country’s financial ruin (Ed Balls) may cause her some issues getting elected.
As if it weren’t enough that we, as the electorate, were foolish idiots who apparently don’t know what we are voting for, we now also have to deal with a civil war between a “snarling, thick-skinned, aggressive” character and his inner circle who are trying to “erase him entirely”. I can’t help but ask… how dull would British politics be without the petty tensions of UKIP? What would we ever do without them?! They were widely dismissed throughout the build up to the election but then they began to scare people, people began to think, “could these nutters be voted into power?” Sure enough, they swooped in to secure 12.6% of the vote.
Shortly after the elections, tensions started to break out among the upper echelons of the party: Nigel Farage attempted (but failed) to resign; Raheem Kassam, Mr Farage’s chief of staff resigned last week; Patrick O’Flynn, the UKIP economic spokesperson resigned after a week of conflicts and head of policy, Suzanne Evans was quick to follow.
Despite this madness Nigel Farage now insists that, following the resignations of the party’s top two members, UKIP is completely united and is in a strong position. However, I sense that the apparently “regrettable things [that] were said and done by a very small number of people” (Guardian) will prove to have been far more damaging than claimed. If nothing else, it is a clear demonstration of the petty levels of squabbling that have come to be regular elements of British politics. The dust around UKIP now appears to have settled but I would be extremely surprised if the party does not start making some noise around the time of the EU referendum (which needless to say was the primary reason for a large proportion of their votes).
Until the time of the EU referendum comes along though I can’t help but believe that the next key moment for the remaining parties will be the election of a new labour leader. Will it be the well backed Andy Burnham who claims to be the only candidate who can bring about change? Or will we see Yvette Cooper rise to the top to bring about a new period of a pro business left? Hey, only time will tell.