No end to uncertainty

If you breathed a sigh of relief over a return to stable, certain government, you may be breathing a bit early. For a start, it’s not exactly a big majority is it? In the days of James Callaghan it would have taken a matter of months for half a dozen or so MPs to keel over. They may be a bit healthier now, but they’re mostly middle-aged men, a vulnerable bunch.

We’ve got a ruling party that’s scarcely represented in one of the nations of the United Kingdom and we’ve got the SNP’s narrative – that we all hate each other – accepted far and wide.

We’ve got an EU referendum coming up. There’s not much doubt about the result. The EU is more popular than ever, something that possibly has quite a lot to do with revulsion at the rantings of some of its opponents; but, as the Scottish referendum showed, these things can be close run. For agriculture, an industry which takes its policy from Brussels, it makes for an uncertain background to decision making.

The Scottish referendum also showed that referendums don’t really settle anything very much and as the anti-campaign in the referendum on changing the voting system kept telling us, referendums cost a lot of money. This one’s like the 1975 referendum on Europe, mainly about settling a row in the ruling party. It won’t make the vocal anti-Europe minority go away. It’s not as if the SNP has gone away.

The election’s left the other parties in a bit of a mess. Labour needs a leader and any candidate who might be even vaguely attractive to the electorate seems to be getting in the queue to say they don’t want the job. The LibDems have so few MPs that their potential choice of leader is a bit limited. I’m almost moved to feel sorry for UKIP, who’ve made the discovery that we don’t actually live under a system that bears very much similarity to a democracy. The SNP has a huge crowd of MPs. UKIP, with about four times as many votes, has one. Time to introduce one of these funny foreign voting systems?

Chris Lyddon
Editor, Farm Business

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