political parallels?

We were in London when the United Kingdom had their election in December, so we saw some of the television coverage of it.

As we know, the Tories (Conservatives) won, Boris Johnson retains his post as prime minister, and, at midnight tonight Brussels time, the UK will officially leave the European Union, a process shorthanded as Brexit.

Right after the election, some pundits who were looking at this as possibly predictive of the upcoming United States elections later this year, posited that the lesson learned was that you can’t have a very liberal person representing the opposing political party.

That was not my takeaway from the situation. I was, instead, stuck by the parallels between UK and US politics, despite the differences in our governmental systems.

First, you have a similar urban/rural divide. In the US, the Democrats are stronger in urban areas and are represented by blue on electoral maps. The Republicans are stronger in rural areas and states and are represented by red. In the UK, the divide between Labor and Tories is similar, but the map colors are reversed.

Of course, the electoral map in the UK is much more complicated as there are more parties involved, such as the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists. There is a real danger that Scotland and Northern Ireland, who do not want to leave the European Union, may in the future vote to leave the United Kingdom. The United States is not about to break apart depending on the outcome of elections.

Another similarity is that the pivotal elections that brought us to this point were influenced by the Russians. Both the Brexit vote four years ago and the 2016 presidential election won by Trump are known to have suffered interference by Russian operatives. A number of GRU officers have been indicted in the United States for their election interference. (The GRU is the main intelligence agency in Russia.) Both the Brexit vote and the 2016 presidential election were close votes. There is no way to quantify the influence of the foreign interference, but it does call into question, in such close votes, if foreign interference tipped the scales.

Both the UK Tories and the US Republicans are historically conservative parties. They had certain principles that they held for decades. They have both turned away from those principles to follow an unconventional leader. In the US, this is sometimes referred to as a “cult of personality.” Any party member who disagrees with the leader is either badgered into falling back in the party line or leaving the party or not running for reelection.

I was also struck by how often Johnson and Trump are called out for lying. This is very distressing. In the US, it has led to some people denying facts in order to believe the lies. Some people even contend that there are no such things as facts or truth. This is dangerous, not only in politics but also in other topics. “Believing” something does not make facts disappear.

No one knows what will happen next in either nation. The UK leaves the European Union tonight, but there are no permanent plans in place for what that looks like. As I write this, I’m listening to the arguments for and against subpoenaing witnesses and documents in Trump’s impeachment trial. Even though most people think they know how the trial will turn out, no one knows what additional facts will surface and how the public will react.

Uncertainty seems the only constant.
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Today is the last day of Linda’s Just Jot It January. We hope you have enjoyed it – and joined in if you wanted! You can find out more about Just Jot It January here:  https://lindaghill.com/2020/01/31/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-31st-2020/
Remember that Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday and Stream of Consciousness Saturday are ongoing. You can learn all about those on Linda’s blog, too. Thanks, Linda, for joining us all together for so much fun!

a royal rescue?

As many of you know, my daughter E and granddaughter ABC will soon be relocating from our home in the US to the UK, when E’s spousal visa comes through. Unfortunately, the UK government, like the US, is mired in dysfunction.

It is difficult to project what will be happening regarding Brexit, the prime minister, Parliament, and the EU. Even seasoned political analysts can’t guess what will happen. There are fears of shortages of fresh foods and medications if/when the UK leaves the EU. With so much uncertainty, this is not an optimal time for E and ABC to move, but there is only a small travel window once the visa arrives.

Lately, I have been fantasizing that the queen will come to the rescue! Britain’s monarch has little power, but, can still dissolve Parliament and call for new elections. She can also accept or reject the choice of prime minister. The prime minister is supposed to “command the confidence of the House of Commons.” [source:  https://www.royal.uk/queen-and-government] Given that PM Johnson has been pretty spectacular in his inability to get bills he favors passed, and that a number of members of his party have left, giving him less than majority support, one could reasonably argue that he does not command confidence.

The monarch is not supposed to be political but she has a duty to “encourage and warn” the government ministers. She is supposed to be a source of national unity. I realize it would be unprecedented, but I think she should point out that leaving the EU will likely cause Scotland, and perhaps Northern Ireland, to leave the United Kingdom. She could also point out that in a constitutional monarchy, issues are decided by her government, not by popular vote. The vote itself may not even represent the true will of the people, given that it was subject to Russian influence and much fear-mongering and lying from the domestic proponents of leaving the European Union. If she made these remarks publicly, perhaps in an address to Parliament, it would cause a stir, but it seems that she would be protecting her subjects and seeking to keep the United Kingdom intact.

Of course, none of this is likely to happen. I am dreaming, though, of a stable place for my daughter and her family to live and thrive.

A place less contentious and divided than the United States would be nice.