The dust has just about settled on the Great British General Election of 2015.
Ed is in Ibiza, reading up on his Marxist tracts, wondering where it all went so wrong. And avoiding gloating calls from his brother.
Nigel resigned as leader of UKIP, ostensibly honouring his promise, but is now back – Lazarus-like – at the helm.
Nick resigned as leader of the Lib Dems after his party got a real kicking for “doing the right thing for the country” during the 5 year coalition.
Nicola rules the new UK political landscape from Scotland, with 56 out of 650 Westminster MPs.
David rolled up his sleeves, carried on with business and is already attacking the key challenge of Europe.
So the pollsters got it all wrong. Up until that bombshell Exit Poll at 10 pm on 7th May, they were all predicting that the Conservatives and Labour were neck and neck, a hung parliament a certainty and a coalition or alliance of Lefties cobbled together to form a majority the likely outcome.
The reality was oh so different. But was it really that surprising?
Alex Salmond – the ex SNP leader after the Scots voted NO in their independence vote, but now bizarrely a Westminster MP – claimed rightly that the Scottish lion has roared today.
But what happened south of the border was the English mouse squeaking. Very loudly. “Middle England” is usually a pejorative term, but millions of hard-working English voters came out in favour of a free market economy, lower taxes, a smaller state, saving more than you spend…and possibly the desire to vote separately for the UK’s position in Europe.
The left will call this the middle class mouse, but that’s where Ed and his Labour cronies were mistaken. The country is no longer defined by lower, middle and upper classes.
Ed used lazy, outdated rhetoric and repetitive sound bites from a bygone age: posh Tories; bankers’ bonuses; I’m here for working families. But people voted against the risk of a Labour-led government repeating the economic mistakes they made under Gordon Brown. And more importantly, perhaps they rejected the socialist ideology of a larger state machine, funded by higher taxes and supporting a bloated welfare state. Just look at France under Monsieur Hollande…….
I wrote here back in April, in an article on the new pension freedoms:
In broader terms, this is a metaphor for capitalism v socialism. The political right want to decrease taxation – personal, to maximise the disposable income in your pocket each month, so that you can decide where best to spend it; corporate, to encourage businesses to invest in people and physical assets. And yes, to make a profit, which should NOT be a dirty word.
The political left believe in increasing taxation to maximise taxes because they want to spend more on public services. Because they know better than us what we need. The Nanny State.
I know which philosophy I prefer. Capitalism – with a social conscience, of course. Socialism doesn’t work, in economic terms. It scares away the wealth creators, discourages inward investment and inevitably causes a downward economic spiral.
The English mouse squeaked in favour of working hard, saving for your family, creating personal wealth, starting up companies, paying sensible taxes and, yes, balancing the books. And being incentivised to go out and work, rather than sit at home on the sofa enjoying a benefits lifestyle.
This new Conservative government now has a real opportunity to do the right thing for the long-term: encourage enterprise, stimulate further employment and economic growth and – more importantly – rebalance public services and the welfare state so that taxes are used to help those that need it most, rather than those who choose not to help themselves when they are able.
The Beveridge Report of 1942 formed the basis of the modern welfare system. It was designed to address the 5 “Giant Evils” of society at that time: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. Our welfare system of the 21st century should reinforce those principles, rather than the broader, more lax ones it has come to stand for in the intervening 70 years, abused by many undeserving of its worthy intent.
If the current government can deliver, we just might end up with a group of politicians who are conservatives with a social conscience, no longer the Nasty Party, and who create a country for the many rather than for the perceived elite few.
Sort out the marauding Scots and our EU position too, and there will be no surprises at the next General Election.
But mess it up, and David, George, Theresa or Boris might also be off on holiday to Ibiza in May 2020.
I wonder if Ed will still be on the sun lounger….