2016 has been a unique year for elections. We had one in the UK, we didn’t need it but we had it anyway, because of the greed of one selfish man. We got it wrong. They had one in the USA, and they got it wrong too, mainly because of what preceded it.
We start in 2010 when we had a UK General Election. Labour had been in power for years, the Prime Minister was Gordon Brown. He wasn’t elected, he was given the job by Tony Blair who was part way through his final term as Prime Minister and just seemed to give up. At the election, the people of the UK were split and we got a hung parliament, Cameron had more seats than Brown, but no majority. Basically Cameron did a deal with rival Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, who threw his hat in the ring with Cameron in return for the role of Deputy Prime Minister. Selfish.
Fast forward to the 2015 election. Cameron doesn’t want another five years of Nick Clegg, he wants an outright win this time. Not much challenge from Labour, they too had held an election and they too had got it wrong. They voted for the wrong Miliband as their leader. But Cameron faced competition of an unusual kind. A single issue party, The United Kingdom Independence Party – UKIP, led by the flamboyant Nigel Farage, was contesting many seats. UKIP were campaigning to bring the UK out of the European Union and were offering, as their main campaigning message, a referendum for the British people to decide whether to ‘remain’ as part of the European Union. This frightened Cameron, he thought that Farage could take votes from him, so Cameron promised that he too would offer a referendum on continuing EU Membership. So because of Cameron’s greed and his lack of confidence in his ability to win, a Tory win meant a referendum on EU Membership would take place.
Cameron panicked unnecessarily. Come the election the unpopular Lib Dems went from 57 seats to 8, and UKIP gained just 1 seat. The Tories won outright, a referendum was not needed, the government didn’t want it either, but we had been promised it and we had to have it. It was held on 23rd June 2016, we were faced with a simple question. Should the UK remain part of the european Union? Yes or No.
The problem with this referendum was that the question was simple, but the issue was too complicated for ordinary people to understand. The campaign was noticeable by its complete lack of facts, instead both sides made wild claims about our future; many of these claims either hugely inaccurate or just lies. There were lies on both sides such as the now famous ‘An extra £350 million a week to spend on the NHS’. Not surprisingly people who wanted to make an informed decision were unable to do so as facts were difficult to find or impossible to understand. This is why people voted for the wrong reasons, one girl voted to ‘Leave’ because she thought hens eggs from EU chickens were inferior to those from British chickens! Nobody expected us to vote to leave the EU, but we did, by a small margin. Many now believe that they shouldn’t have voted as they did and if we had another vote now then we may vote to ‘Remain’. But it’s too late for that, the people have spoken, we have to leave, with all the years of effort and cost that will go into its implementation, and all because of one man’s greed.
The problem in the US is not new, it’s as old as they are. Their electoral system requires that not only do you need to register to vote, but you have to align yourself with one of the main parties, Republican or Democrat. Then when the electoral process begins registered voters are able to vote for one of the candidates standing to be their party’s choice. This takes months as they move from state to state picking up votes. The candidates with the lowest number of votes make their own decision on whether to stay, and spend more money, or drop out. Then eventually the front-runners go to the national convention of their party and the party, by a slightly complicated system, selects the eventual candidate for their party. This seems too complicated and unnecessary.
This is all good in theory, except that this time both parties ended up with a candidate they didn’t really want. 325 million people, but they got Trump and Hillary. Trump is seen as a loose cannon, Hilary as tainted. Trump hates everyone and everything, Obama, Obama Care, Women, Muslims, Mexicans and Hillary. Hillary smacks of old school politics of the worst kind, she’s not trusted, even with an iPhone email account.
If the parties had chosen their own candidates neither Trump or Hillary would have been on the ticket and history would have taken us down a different path.
Here in the UK, what David Cameron seemed to have forgotten was that we had already voted on the EU Referendum the year before, only that time we called a General Election. Every five years we have one and what we do is vote for a government. We, the people of the UK, require our government to make the big decisions for us. We expect them to understand the issues and make an informed decision. We joined the EU 43 years ago, we didn’t need to leave, or even think about leaving, all was largely fine. Why on earth then did we have a vote on something that nobody understood and allowed the people to make a momentous decision based on the quality of hens egg’s and lies written on the side of a red bus.
So don’t let the people vote to pick candidates. Don’t let the people vote on issues they don’t understand, as politicians, we expect you to do that for us and to do the right thing. So we the people should only be required to vote for a government. Pick your own candidates, tell us what you want to do and we’ll decide. This is how it should be here and in the US.
The flaw in my argument though is two-fold:
- If we had not had a referendum, we’d still have David Cameron as Prime Minister. I’m pleased to see the back of him.
- If the Republicans had chosen their own candidate we would not have ended up with President Elect Trump, and perhaps that’s not a bad thing.
Interestingly since winning Trump’s tone has softened considerably he is more conciliatory and even humble now. No more talk of ‘such a nasty woman’, ‘bad hombres’, ‘lock her up’ or ‘Mexico will pay for the wall’. Perhaps, if he surrounds himself with the right people and has the ear of congress, perhaps he will bring a fresh approach to the presidency. Perhaps he will achieve something, perhaps he really will make America Great again! Perhaps. Time, as always, will tell.