In an election with one central issue it is perhaps fitting that the scale of the Conservatives victory lay in one pivotal decision. In an election like no other, the winning chess move was made not by Boris Johnson but by Nigel Farage. It’s a huge win for the Conservatives but so too a subtle win for national populism and a Steven Bannon influenced Brexit party movement.
Yes, GE2019 was decided by the grand master of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage. The fact that the Brexit Party will not immediately reap the rewards of this maneuver is a matter for another day.
The Brexit Party’s decision not to contest Tory held seats in this election was the winning of it. Well at least the Winning of it in such a decisive manner. This Farage doctrine, as we can see now, ensures that Brexit will now proceed apace.
The clear pattern in early constituency results show a startling trend. One that will not have escaped the attention of the Prime Minister or Nigel.
In constituencies where Labour, Conservatives and the Brexit party contested seats, Labour’s huge drop in vote went almost exclusively to the Brexit Party. The trend was starkest in the north of England.
In constituencies where it was a shootout between Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, Labour votes went to a mix of Liberals and Tories. And of course Brexit party votes went to the Tories as well in these voting districts. In many of these area’s the Tories ran some decidedly non-traditional conservatives. A nod to this populism movement perhaps.
” In other words if the Brexit Party had contested ALL constituencies they would
have wreaked havoc on the Conservative final seat numbers “
The performance of the Brexit party is quite startling when taken in this context. People voting , knew their decision to contest less than half of the constituencies, considerably hamstrung their ability to rally their base of supporters.
Still though, they have performed at about 10% of the overall vote if you factor in what they gave up. A final vote count of 640,000 doesn’t accurately reflect the Brexit party contribution. As many as two million will have voted for Tories or tactically stayed at home.
Many observers were expecting record levels in the % of the vote turnout numbers across the UK. This didn’t materialize in many constituencies for one simple reason. It was tactical.
Marginal Tory seats were suddenly experiencing a trebling of their majorities instead of actually losing a raft of seats to Labour because of Brexit Party interference. Nigel Farage turned a slim victory or possible hung parliament – into a resounding Tory victory.
No-one will understand this better than Boris Johnson.
This victory, then, comes with a huge responsibility. It could also contain the seeds of the Conservatives future destruction.
Delivering Brexit has meant entertaining some strange bedfellows. What we can observe in the statistics is that a huge tranche of Leftist populism has moved across to Rightist populism.
Also a big tranche of rightist populism has trusted the Conservatives with their vote by virtue of not having a Brexit Candidate to vote for. As you can imagine this is not a stable looking coalition, within a party, that is neither a natural fit for leftists or populists.
The imperatives of Brexit won the argument today and Boris Johnson offers the most coherent methodology of getting the UK quickly and safely out of it. It is as simple as that.
When he finalizes Brexit he will need to sit down and reflect on the new make up of his party.
Is he and the Conservative Party willing to lean into nationalist populism ?
New Conservative coalition
Ultimately, this is what the Republican party in the United States have found themselves doing. The new rump of Trump coalition voters were predominantly blue-collar, working class, motivated and fiercely patriotic. Non Globalists. Typically a centre left Democratic crowd in previous generations.
An abandoned coalition in the US and also clearly in huge swathes of the UK.
Today, Boris Johnson finds himself in much the same position as the Republican party of 2016. How he plays his hand in the next 12 months will determine whether he can keep this a coalition of the willing.
Farage too, has some decisions to make now. Is this nationalistic, populist movement he has dug from the industrial wastelands of middle England a movement he wants to lead and grow. Was Brexit his ultimate and final destination?
Farge’s non compete clause ceded total victory to the Tories and has given him the result he desired.
A swift Brexit from this point forward.
It may yet deliver him the victory he wants in the future as well.
For that to start to happen though, he must ask himself if he is Donald Trump or Steven Bannon.
(For more info on Steven Bannon click here )
The political face or the background engine room of this movement?
If he is not the face he will need to find one.
I suspect his preference despite his huge media profile and influence is to be the latter. He knows better than anyone that in today’s huge win, Boris Johnson has created a coalition that will be very difficult to entertain post Brexit.
In this environment with a weakened, savaged Labour Party, in 5 years time, it could be all to play for again..
Whether he has the appetite and hunger for it is another question.
What is not, is the fact, that there’s been no better man in recent British political history, to arrive in the right place at the right time, with a big enough crowd, to make things interesting.
In the end the Party that got none of the seats – managed to have most of the influence.
Link to previous related content on Steven Bannon and National Populism