UK General Election 2019
By Alex Reinsch-Goldstein
With the UK continuing to be embroiled in a political cesspool the likes of which modern politics has scarcely seen before, the present situation will probably be used as an example in some future civics class of what would happen if you let all the big decisions be made by alcoholics and snuff addicts. And today the UK is set for its third general election in four years.
In the relentlessly trivializing tradition of most mainstream media outlets, I have compiled a list of the major party contenders in this year’s election, along with some of what they stand for, like baseball trading cards that no one would want. Who is engaging in the mudsling-to-the-death to determine the future of Brexit, austerity, and all that good stuff? Here follows.
Political position: morally confused (center-right)
Best member: a large orangutan who escaped the London Zoo, named Boris Johnson
The oldest party represented on this list, the “Tories” have exististed in some form since the eighteenth century and in their current incarnation since 1834. With this long and illustrious history, the Conservatives can claim among their membership such figures as heroically stubborn Winston Churchill, the mummified neoliberal Margaret Thatcher, and fluffy mid-tier primate Boris Johnson. Believing in such quirky policies as limited government spending, budget cuts, privatization of social services, and mild nativism, the Conservatives are like posher versions of Republicans before Reagan dragged them into an airbrushed deficit-hawk hell.
Ideology: Democratic Socialism, Social Democracy
Political position: center-left
Best member: Dennis Skinner, a former coal miner who audibly makes a joke every time the Queen arrives for the State Opening of Parliament and who was once kicked out of the House of Commons for referring to the smugly pig-loving Prime Minister David Cameron as “Dodgy Dave.”
Us Americans have to be content with imagining a world in which there is an actual left-wing alternative to oppose conservatism. Thankfully, the people of the UK do not: the Labour Party, and its Chris Cringle-esque leader Jeremy Corbyn, provide an unabashedly leftist alternative to the austerity and privatization that the UK’s conservative elements mete out upon the less fortunate. The party manifesto calls for a four-day work week, nationalization of the railroads, increased funding for the National Health Service and other social programs, and a series of Green New Deal-like environmentalist proposals.
Labour’s history is complex. Founded as a socialist party in the early 1900s and introducing numerous radical reforms (such as the world’s first public healthcare service) during its time in government, Labour’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in the late 1970s, when it lost four sequential general elections and was out of government for eighteen years as Britain was Play-Doh’d in the iron fist of Margaret Thatcher. Around this time, Labour’s leaders had a particularly bright idea: since Conservatives won elections, the way to win elections was to become Conservatives! Labour leader Tony Blair renounced socialism, embraced neoliberal austerity, and, playing off of voter’s fatigue at 18 long years of Conservative antics, became Prime Minister. Blair rewarded the British people for their support by promptly sending their sons to die in Iraq.
After being severely beaten in the 2010 election, Labour realized that dressing up as Conservatives and hoping no one noticed would not work for long. They came to a conclusion that American Democrats have yet to reach: that the way to win is to provide voters with an actual alternative. Jeremy Corbyn, a democratic socialist, assumed leadership in 2014 and--if all goes well for Labour--may be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the first socialist to hold that position in decades.
Scottish National Party
Ideology: Scottish independence, Social Democracy
Political Position: Oot wi the English
Best Member: Mel Gibson from Braveheart (but back before he was racist)
The SNP advocates Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. With an SNP majority in the devolved Scottish parliament and a significant proportion of the Scottish population already behind independence, the eventual arrival of the Brexit clown car may well give the SNP what it wants and break the UK into several small fiddly bits.
Ideology: Social Liberalism, Pro-Europeanism, Centrism
Political position: Pick a side and grab a molotov
Best Member: none of them.
The Lib Dems are proudly committed to nothing in particular. They would very much prefer that the election be exclusively about Brexit, because they pretty much have nothing to say about anything else. NHS? Never heard of it. Rent control? Not necessary if you live with your mom. Brexit? Now let me tell you--
Democratic Unionist Party
Ideology: British nationalism
Political Position: Degeneracy
Best member: the dead ones
Committed to the geriatric and rapidly decaying ideal of a united Britannia, the DUP was thoroughly anachronistic until it was suddenly cast back into relevance propping up the Conservative governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson as coalition partners. Fun fact: during the conflict in Northern Ireland, the DUP’s paramilitary affiliates attempted to purchase missiles from Apartheid South Africa with which to blow up Catholics.
Ideology: Irish nationalism, Socialism
Political position: Excellence
Best Member: All of them
The arch-nemesis of the DUP and the other Northern Irish unionists, Sinn Fein has a long and storied history. Founded in 1903 by Irish revolutionary Arthur Griffith, it led the struggle for Irish independence and was active in Northern Ireland as the political wing of the Irish Republican Army. Advocating the independence of a united, socialist Ireland, Sinn Fein’s name is Gaelic for “We Ourselves.”
The Official Monster Raving Loony Party
Political Position: “Sitting, facing forward” (self-described)
The OMRLP’s policies include nominating candidates with deliberately bizarre names, minting 99 pound coins, banning greyhound racing to “prevent the country going to the dogs,” and sending game show host Noel Edmonds to negotiate Brexit because “he understands Deal or No Deal.” Still less of a joke than the Liberal Democrats.
What will happen? Who knows. Maybe we could hire one of those semi-intelligent monkeys who are said to be able to have predictive powers. Unfortunately, there’s only one in the UK, and he is currently Prime Minister.