Sunday, June 11, 2017

Week 76: "Hung Parliament" (June 11, 2017)

Dear Readers,

It has been an eventful week. For all past newsletters (and more), make sure to go to the blog at

The 2017 UK General Election

After months of excitement (ah, those Brits with their two-month elections. So civilized...), the citizens of the UK finally headed to the polls. A once confident Theresa May had seen her lead in the polls slip from 20 points to just 4. In the end, May’s Conservatives won the popular vote by only 2.4% and failed to secure a majority of seats. They won 317, requiring 326 for a majority. However, the very conservative Democratic Unionists in Northern Ireland won 10 seats, enough to secure the Conservative government a very tenuous majority. May will remain Prime Minister for now, though many people on both sides of the aisle have called for her to step down.
So, faced with this failure, you may ask why the Conservatives bothered to call an election. Well, for starters, they were up 20 points in the polls at the time. “But still,” you say, “why risk loss?” Well, the Conservatives held 330 seats, just barely above a majority, and wanted to gain seats so they could pass more ambitious legislation. They couldn’t have predicted the massive swings to Corbyn and Labour during the campaign, but the decision has come back to bite them.
The other parties’ results deserve some attention. The Scottish National Party, who won nearly every seat in Scotland in 2015, lost 21 seats, mostly to the Conservatives but also some to Labour and the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems gained a few seats, but also lost some seats they hold now. UKIP fell from 12% in 2015 to just 2% on Thursday. In Northern Ireland, only two parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, won seats, for the first time in recent memory (often the Ulster Unionists and SDLP will also win seats). And, of course, Labour gained 30 seats and won more raw votes than any Labour campaign since Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide with 12.87 million.

Comey Under Investigation

As Britain voted, former FBI director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In this testimony, Comey revealed he had given memos about his conversations with Trump to Robert Mueller, the special counsel over the Russia hearings. He also was questioned bizarrely by John McCain, who claimed he stayed up late watching a baseball game. Comey was also quoted as saying “Lordy, I hope there are tapes [of his conversations with Trump]”. He accused Donald Trump of lying, confirmed that Michael Flynn was under FBI investigation, and in general achieved a balance of actually giving valuable information and getting his name in the headlines (because Comey likes being in the news). And the effects are potentially disastrous for Trump, with Comey calling him a liar and opposing many things Trump has claimed.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply or comment.

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