9 May 2016

Exams, Elections, and Poetry

Hail readers!

You may be wondering where I have been and what I have been doing these past several days. It would be a fair question; I have not updated the Magical Realm in a fair while. As for the answer?

Blame it on a few things. Firstly, this will be my last update bar one before my A2 exams begin. Yes, it’s that time of the year. Yes, I have been revising. And yes, I am reasonably confident. But no, I hate exams.

Anyway, that’s the first reason. The second reason is that I’ve been writing on the topic of the EU referendum; I have a near 5000 word essay completed, and will likely be adding more to it before I publish it. I actually finished the essay a few days ago, but declined to publish it because the media was in furore over Livingstone’s Hitler comments and, later, on the local elections. Thus I decided it was best to postpone its publication.

Now that media attention is slowly returning to Europe, expect to see the essay pop up soon. Perhaps once my exams begin, since I won’t have time to do any blogging at all then.

There is also a third reason: I have been working on the Ark with my editor. I have written a synopsis (since numerous agents ask for one) and the editor has gotten back to me with comments on it. Then I did a couple of edits, and sent it back to her. Such is the process of editing.

As for the Ark itself, my editor claims—optimistically, knowing her recent track record—that she’ll read and assess the manuscript by May 16th. I’ll see how that goes.

Oh, and there is yet another thing. I have applied to two Dutch universities, and one—Amsterdam—has offered to do an informal interview with me on (who would have thought?) May 16th. Thankfully, it is via Skype and only about 20 minutes long. In any case: wish me luck!

But That’s Not All

Those of you who follow me would know that I am a keen political blogger (being a member of the Labour party and having written numerous pieces on Socialism and Social Democracy). Therefore, it would be strange of me not to give my analysis on the local elections, mayoral results, and the election to the Scottish parliament & Welsh assembly.

Firstly, on the local elections. The media, predictably, was in furore. Numerous pieces were published claiming that Corbyn was to be shown up for the disaster he is; one supposedly well-known academic even claimed that Labour was to lose 150 seats in the south of England. Numerous other apocalyptic predictions were rife.

It turned out that Labour retained pretty much all of its seats.

With that prediction shattered (a prediction which the media conveniently forgot about) another prediction was to be shattered. Labour was predicted to lose badly in the Bristol mayoral election. The Labour candidate won.

In other mayoral news, Sadiq Khan is now mayor of London. This is great for several reasons. One, it means London has a Labour mayor; a boost for Corbyn. Two, London has a moderate Muslim mayor (I’m not terribly fond of Islam in general, but Khan is a good role model for disenfranchised Muslims to look at). Three, that buffoon is no longer mayor. And four, the Tory candidate’s dog-whistle racism didn’t get him anywhere.

Nevertheless, there is some bad news and some disappointing news. The bad news is Scotland: Labour has done atrociously there, down to 19% of the vote—lower even than what it got in the GE. This is obviously very disturbing, and doubly disturbing considering that Corbyn is now at the helm of the Labour party (and therefore matches the leftwing policies of the SNP).

The answer to why Scottish Labour did badly is not one that I know. Not one many people know, I should think. There are a few plausible reasons. Firstly, the leader of Scottish Labour—Kezia Dugdale—is, from what I have heard, not the best example of political leadership the world has seen.

Secondly, there may be a case of credibility at play; the Scots may not be very impressed by how not only the English establishment, but even Corbyn’s own party, has treated Corbyn. The Scots who voted SNP this election may be thinking: why vote Corbyn when you can get Corbyn policies via the SNP—a party that doesn’t conspire to undermine its own leader by cavorting with the parties’ enemies in the rightwing press.

Thirdly, there’s the independence question, and potentially even the EU debacle. The majority of Scots (55%) voted against independence, but the SNP has 47% of the vote. So potentially more Scots have gone over to the Independence side. Why? Well, the EU referendum could be one reason.

I however am skeptical of this. I doubt the elections to the Scottish parliament were determined entirely by Independence politics seeing as to how only a referendum will actually make Scotland independent.

The Tory party also saw a modest increase in the vote up in Scotland (from less than 20% to 25% of the vote) which is potentially a result of either the Scottish Tory’s leader—which I frankly doubt, seeing her lack of political success in numerous elections before 2016—or more likely the Tories were voted for as an anti-Independence vote.

As for Wales, Labour kept its position as the largest party but lost some votes.

Strategy Going Forward

The first thing Labour has to worry about is Scotland. If Labour does not do well in Scotland come 2020, Labour will almost certainly not have enough seats to form a majority. It could go into coalition with the SNP, but that poses some problems (the SNP would be an anti-union party governing the United Kingdom!) There’s also the element of the rightwing press spreading FUD about the SNP controlling Labour behind the scenes, but I’m not entirely sure as to how effective this will be.

If Labour wants to be a firm Unionist party, it could pick up votes from the Scots who voted against independence (presumably the majority). Unfortunately, the anti-independence vote is split towards the Tories, Lib Dems, etc. So this may not be enough.

Alternately, Labour could take a more non-committal position. It could say ‘We’re not so sure of this independence thing, but ultimately it’s for the Scottish people to decide and only a referendum will decide the matter.’ So potentially Labour could pick up both pro and against voters.

But then, why will the Scots vote Labour instead of SNP? There’s not much difference in policy at all between us and them. Then again: Labour was the natural governing party of Scotland for decades. Perhaps if some of our MPs chose to shut up and stop attacking Corbyn for a while, the Scots may take us in higher esteem.

In any case, it’s clear that throwing mud at the SNP won’t work. They’ve run a competent administration implementing Corbyn-like policy. Throwing mud hasn’t worked in these two elections; and it won’t work with Corbyn at the helm, since it will reek of a) hypocrisy and b) general bad manners.

The Million-Dollar Question: What About Corbyn?

The media’s apocalyptic predictions did not come to pass. This should surprise no one with a brain. However, the local election results—in contrast with the mayoralties—don’t show a dramatic victory for Corbyn.

Partly this is because Labour did fairly well in the previous election, and because Labour is already the most successful local party by quite a margin (nearly two thirds of councillors and councils are Labour). This makes it difficult for Corbyn to really improve upon Labour’s position.

Also, analysis by the BBC would suggest that if people voted in the GE in the same way the voted in these elections, Labour would be ahead of the Tories (on 31% versus 29% for the Tories). However, these two elections are rarely voted on in the same way and by the same people, so it’s a bit of a moot point.

The one thing that is disturbing is that the Tories should, really, have gotten a thrashing. They’re in chaos over Europe; forced academisation is not popular with the electorate; and Osborne has already had to U-turn on working tax credit. Plus, Cameron and Osborne have been embroiled in the Panama debacle.

So, is this Corbyn’s fault? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a bit too early to tell, really. And the EU referendum could change a lot of things. My take on it? Let’s wait and see. Give Corbyn a chance before replacing him. But if Corbyn doesn’t do well—find someone more personable.

Conclusions

I have written a great deal on matters personal and political. Since I need to focus on my exams, you can understand why. Aside from the EU essay I will be releasing soon, this will be my last post until June.

I will leave you with a final little treat. A poem. It is based on plans for a future book, so do take a look. ;)

The Hinterlands

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