I’ve spent most of today, mentally, trying to make sense of the UK general election results. Actually, so have the Brits. I don’t really understand how the government or the political parties work here, so I’ve been trying to grasp what I can from reading news articles and talking to people.
Overall, I’d say the mood around here today felt as uncertain as the weather did. People seem surprised, tense, and uncertain about what will happen going forward. Similar to how Londoners were acting last June, the morning after the election that resulted in Brexit. Confusion, shock, uncertainty. I guess I would liken it to how we felt in the States in November 2000, when we didn’t know if Bush or Gore actually won.
So here’s how I understand it, in very, very basic terms:
Prime Minister Theresa May called for an election three years early, because she was hoping to pick up more seats in Parliament (polls showed the Tories up 20 percentage points), and therefore a strong base of support for Brexit negotiations, with her party, the Conservatives (or Tories)—despite already enjoying an outright majority. But to her—and many people’s—surprise, the Labour party picked up more seats, resulting in a “hung Parliament,” so her party lost its majority, which was the opposite of what she hoped and expected to accomplish by moving up the election. So now the Conservatives will have to team up with at least one smaller party (there are quite a few) in order to run a “coalition government,” or attempt to run a “minority government”? I’m not really clear on what that means, exactly, but perhaps that means the Tories will have to take on some of the small parties’ interests? No one is really clear on how this will play out, including whether Theresa May will hold onto the prime ministership.
Our area of London has traditionally gone Conservative in elections, but actually went Labour this time. I will say I have actually seen more Vote Labour signs in windows around here than I’ve seen Vote Conservative.
Since we’re in the wake of three terrorist attacks in England in just a few months, this uncertainty in the government has people a bit shaken, I think. When a country is feeling under attack and vulnerable, the people need a strong leader who can make them feel like everything is going to be OK. I don’t think this special election accomplished that. Not to mention there are still so many questions surrounding Brexit, and what that will mean for this country going forward.
On the subject of the terrorist attacks, quite a few people from home have reached out after the recent events to make sure we’re all right, and to get our take on things. So I’ll post publicly what I have been telling friends and family: I don’t feel any less safe here than anywhere else. Yes, the attacks are awful, and very sad, and I feel terrible for the victims and their loved ones and everyone this has affected. But on the whole, there are far fewer guns on the street here than in Baltimore, and way more people, so the chance of something happening to me or someone I know feels low. In 2017 so far, there have been 152 homicides in Baltimore, a city of approximately 615,000 people. In that same time, there have been 58 killings in London (mostly stabbings, and that number includes the victims of the two London terrorist attacks), a city of 8.6 million people. So, yeah.
I think when ISIS is involved, and the word “terrorist” is included in the news story, it gets elevated to this extreme level. But in America, it’s way easier for people to get guns, and recent history has sadly demonstrated that many people who are mentally disturbed are able to get them and then go shoot up a mall, movie theater, or school. So the bottom line is, you’re not really safe anywhere, and I choose to not live my life in fear.
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to make sense of the whole Comey testimony covfefe from across the pond. It seems like it was THE major news in the U.S. this week, but it has been eclipsed here by the election, so I’m trying to understand it through the lens of online media… which seems to have different takes on it, depending on the news outlet.
Anyway, I will end with the following, since we could all use some comic relief:
Worst high 5 of all time…? pic.twitter.com/XyIE5oYt7H
— Dan Hewitt (@danhewittsky) June 9, 2017