Wednesday, June 07, 2017

On the eve of the British general election

Now that looks familiar, doesn't it. Young people are evidently pulling one way, the elders another (as of May 30). Nothing strange to us in the U.S. in that.

People who actually know anything about the approaching British vote (not me) seem agreed that Theresa May and the Conservatives (Tories) will win enough of a majority to stay in government, but probably not much enlarge their margin. This wasn't supposed to be how this worked; May called the election expecting to be greatly strengthened, but on the eve of the vote, it doesn't look as if she'd get the wipe out against the opposition Labour Party she hoped for.

In addition to the generation gap, there are familiar elements. Zrinka Bralo, a Bosnian who found refuge in Britain from war, has described how he and other immigrants are struggling for democracy in their new home.

... we often neglect to mention that refugees and migrants are also political, and possessing the same agency to democratically determine their future. This agency is exercised despite migrants often being denied their rights, forced to endure prejudice and degrading treatment and being formally excluded from the democratic process.

We have been citizens somewhere and many are soon to be citizens here. In fact, many refugees ended up fleeing their countries because they risked their lives being citizens in pursuit of justice and democracy. For many refugees and migrants, politics, democracy, voting and civic participation is an essential part of our identity and, without exaggeration, a matter of life and death. Just before the war in Bosnia, I checked myself out of hospital in order to vote in the independence referendum. Not voting was just not an option for 24 year old me.

... When the snap election was announced by the Prime Minister, migrant and refugee communities responded in the best way they knew – through a nationwide mobilisation. Communities seized the opportunity to make this election different by organising everybody to speak out, register to vote and ensure that their voice in heard. Even those who cannot vote were able to work together to ensure that their communities and their interests are not lost in this election. In a clear voice, migrants said that decisions about us should not be taken without us. ... Since April 18, more than 2 million people registered to vote. Many of these will be migrants looking to choose a Government that stands up for them and their communities.

As is so often the case, it looks as if what happens in Britain will be decided by who gets out and votes. Historically, young people and newcomers may have opinions, but they just don't bother to actually cast a ballot. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been drawing enthusiastic crowds on a platform of free tuition and re-orienting the state toward support for public welfare. Theresa May clearly is uninspiring to many. But pollsters wonder whether all this noise can translate into a Labour win -- or even hold down a Tory majority. Parties depending on young voters seldom reach their turnout goals. Can Britain be different?

Labour has been airing slick ads that make the case to young Brits.
Stephen Bush at the New Statesman opines that this vote could be a repeat of Brexit (and resemble Hillary Clinton's fruitless popular vote victory).

Most of Britain’s great cities – London, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Bristol, Glasgow and Newcastle – all voted to Remain. Its smaller cities and towns opted, in the main, to Leave.

Labour’s surge may be similarly geographically limited.

Labour gains where globalization fuels diversity and prosperity, but this may not be enough to overcome the drag among people for whom globalization is not benefit but painful disruption.

We'll see. Pollsters in Britain have a far poorer track record than ours. Their system is harder to model. I'm following @GoodwinMJ and the British edition of The Guardian.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails