UK Politics

Politics – re-defining crazy?

Written by Callum Murison

Politics. If somebody had said that word to me a couple of years ago, my reaction wouldn’t have been dissimilar to “what on earth are you on about?” However, being friends with Callum Williams (Spyglass Political Correspondent), I decided I had to acquire more information on the matter! So, in a year that has been more chaotic than anything previously imaginable, how has world politics become so crazy, and will the unpredictability of politics ever end?

One year ago, the British people were preparing to vote on the UK’s EU membership. The ‘Brexit or Remain’ campaign, primarily centred around immigration and what we now know to be lies, culminated in a referendum on June 23, 2016. The result shocked both the UK and the world – the British people, in complete contradiction to all predictions, had voted to end the UK’s 43-and-a-half year stay in the European Union (formerly the European Economic Community) and therefore also the single market. No political analysis, no political predictions had expected anything other than a ‘no’ vote – yet 51.9% of the population followed Conservative Boris Johnson and his ‘£350 million pounds a week claim’ in wanting to leave the EU. The result revealed a divided country – a split country – and various Conservative MPs then duelled to determine who was best to lead the United Kingdom forward in these difficult times. Theresa May emerged the eventual victor but, in more recent times, has shown that her ‘strong and stable’ mantra is not always what she achieves.

However, in between the EU referendum and the more recent UK general election, there was also a presidential election in the United States. The spotlight primarily focused on the Democratic and Republican parties (the main parties in the US), with the race eventually turning into a Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton battle – with a startling result. I can say that, based on what I saw of the TV coverage of the election, and the views of some UK citizens, neither candidate was particularly popular, due to the Clinton email controversy and the Trump wall controversy, which both proved extremely divisive. Nonetheless, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson (in extremely embarrassing circumstances), when asked in an interview on live television, revealed to the American public and the world that he was unaware of the Syrian crisis in Aleppo – “and what is Aleppo?” he asked. Not good at all… So, with what literally turned into a debate in which voters were choosing between the lesser of two evils, Donald Trump (previously a wealthy businessman and lover of golf) became the President due to winning through the American Electoral College system. So, unfortunately for me, I must now explain (in a little bit of detail) about the immensely complex electoral college system…

However, I have some help! According to the Huffington Post, “The Electoral College is made up of 538 electors who cast votes to decide the President and Vice-President of the United States. When voters go to the polls on Tuesday, they will be choosing which candidate receives their state’s electors. The candidate who receives a majority of electoral votes (270) wins the Presidency. The number 538 is the sum of the nation’s 435 Representatives, 100 Senators, and 3 electors given to the District of Columbia.”

Basically, what that means, is that Americans vote for people who then vote for the candidate who will then be sworn in as the next President of the United States. The thing about this system is that you can still win through the Electoral College system without getting the largest percentage of the popular vote. For example, in the 2016 US election, Hillary Clinton (Democrats’ runner up) got 48.5% of the votes, whereas Donald Trump only got 46.4% of the votes – a difference of almost three million votes! Three million! Yet Donald Trump won 306 of the electoral votes – 74 more than Hillary Clinton, who won three million more in the popular vote than him! This result was due to the fact that there are different numbers of electoral votes per state and, in all but 2 states, whoever wins the majority of the vote in a state wins ALL of the electoral votes for that area. So, because Trump won some of the bigger states, he emerged the eventual victor. Trump was eventually, officially sworn into office on Friday 20th January 2017.

And now, finally, onto more recent times. Theresa May shocked the British people in announcing that she would call a snap general election for the June 8. Her justification for this was so that she could basically get more seats for herself and strengthen her majority in the House of Commons. However, it backfired… The Tories had 331 seats – what was needed for a majority (more than half of all the seats) – going into the election but, at 10pm on June 8, a startling exit poll shown on BBC News threw the cat amongst the pigeons: it predicted a hung parliament. However, exit polls are not always very accurate – and I therefore think that a lot of Conservative voters still believed that a Tory majority was the most likely outcome. But it wasn’t to be. Theresa May eventually won 318 seats – a loss of 13 – whereas Labour (galvanised with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm) won 30 more seats than in 2015! This could only classify as a disaster for the Prime Minister, sparking speculation that she may resign. However, she stayed on and, currently is engaging in discussions with the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party over a potential “confidence and supply” deal – not an official coalition. This would basically mean that the DUP (the smaller party) would support the Conservatives (the larger party) in key votes such as the Budget and Queen’s Speech. All in all, this general election resulted in political chaos – now we have to basically restructure our government to lead us through the imminent Brexit talks.

So, how crazy is current politics? Pretty unbelievably crazy! The unpredictability of recent election results – totally surprising – has resulted in an air of confusion in the upcoming to elections. It is now almost impossible to know what to expect.

So, is there any way to make it less crazy? The answer is almost certainly…


About the author

Callum Murison

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