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Post-election roundup-ette

Two memorable postmortems of the UK election at the new group blog The Sharpener. First, Phil on the state of the parties after May 5:

Obviously the Tories are the worst losers. If I were a Conservative voter, I'd be really worried about the state of the party. For as long as I can remember, it's been a good rule of thumb that when Labour were in trouble, the Tories would be the first to benefit, and vice versa. ... Michael Howard and Lynton Crosby ... they mobilised a core 'Right' vote, representing around 30% of the population, and absolutely nobody else.
In this election we've seen New Labour's triumphal achievement: reducing the Conservatives to their current state. It may even be irreversible: all they need to lock themselves into the downward spiral is to appoint yet another leader who plays well with the grass roots... New Labour isn't in a much better state; it's had very few other triumphs.
... Nothing to say about the BNP, except that they're not going to go away (unassisted). And nothing at all to say about UKIP or Veritas, except perhaps "ha ha ha".

Second, Jim Bliss on the election's most prominent personality:

Incidentally, there was some criticism of our Jeremy during the run up to the election. But I fear the undeniably insightful Justin may have missed the point a little with Mr. Paxman. You see, our political culture has reached a kind of saturation point with regards to evasiveness. It is technically no longer possible to extract any interesting information from an elected representative. Even the most skillful of interviewer is powerless against an adult stubbornly pretending to be a 4-year-old in a sulk.

Paxman understands this. And he realises that when politicians refuse to answer simple questions, they look like total morons to the rest of us. So he has shifted role. His interviews are no longer about extracting information from politicians. And to judge them on those grounds is to misunderstand the great political theatre being played out. Paxman's role is now that of The Everyman (and woman). It is he, and not those he interviews, who truly represents us. He sits there and openly sneers at those who most need and merit it. He, as do we, sees through the charade, and he embodies our derision as we watch these bumbling buffoons who refuse to talk straight with those they are supposed to represent.

Paxman is not there to interview. He is there to convey our contempt.

And he's the only reason I stayed up as late as I did. Watching him sigh and roll his eyes every time a Labour MP used the phrase "an historic third term" was hilarious. And the unconcealed glee that glinted in his eye each time a tory claimed the government is the most unpopular in recent history ("Yes, but if this result tells us anything, it's that your party is even less popular than the most unpopular government in recent history! You really are a complete shambles, aren't you?")

By the way, I agree with Jim: Appalling though Michael Howard may be, he's shown real class in the manner of his leaving. Good riddance, but kudos to him for taking responsibility and acting decisively rather than hanging on to his position of power.


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