Wednesday, November 27, 2019

more British detail

I wish to make a subtle correction to the historical comment of a British political think-tank director quoted at the end of this article. He compares what might happen after the current general election with what happened after the last such election held in December, in 1923. “The Conservatives throwing away a majority and the first Labour government ever being ushered in with the support of the Liberals,” he said. “History doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme.”

Besides the fact that the Conservatives don't have a majority this time, I wish to quibble with the word support as used of the Liberals in the 1923-24 situation. The Liberals didn't support the Labour government, they consented to it. There's a difference, and since the scenario being mooted in the current election is of a massive anti-Brexit coalition, it's a big difference. There was no anti-tariff coalition in the earlier case, even though that issue separated both Labour and Liberal from the Conservatives. Labour, though a minority, governed entirely on their own. There was no consultation with the Liberals as "support" implies. Labour didn't trust the Liberals and wished to avoid being dragged down by them.

Instead, Labour sailed on and did what they wanted to do, held back by the fact that the Liberals could turn them out at any time, but pushed forward by the fact that the Liberals didn't want another election any more than Labour did. In the event, a controversy caused the government's fall after only eight months, and the Conservatives won the ensuing election. Not an enticing parallel for the anti-Brexit parties, if it is a parallel at all.

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