What Does the British Election Result Mean for the Environment?


So in the UK, Theresa May took her Conservative party into a snap election thinking that the opposition Labour party was in tatters, and she won the most seats. But she did not win a majority of the seats, resulting in what is called a “hung Parliament.”

According to the Guardian, one of the reasons that Labour did so well was the huge turnout of young people;

The “youthquake” was a key component of Corbyn’s 10-point advance in Labour’s share of the vote – exceeding even Blair’s nine-point gain in his first 1997 landslide. No official data exists for the scale of the youth vote but an NME-led exit poll suggests turnout among under-35s rose by 12 points compared with 2015, to 56%. The survey said nearly two-thirds of younger voters backed Labour, with Brexit being their main concern.

This was an issue we covered on MNN just before the American election where I wrote that Grumpy boomers may have won it, but millennials failed to show up. They didn't in the American election either, but the lesson has finally gotten through; you don't win if you don't vote.

Unlike the American system, where one votes separately for president, senator and congressman, in the Parliamentary system followed by Britain, Canada and Australia, citizens only vote for their Member of Parliament; only her constituents voted for Theresa May. (Lord Buckethead ran against her and did not do well.) The party that gets the most seats then puts together a government and the leader of the party becomes the Prime Minister.

If they have a clear majority of seats, then it is easy; if they don’t then they have to make deals with other parties to get enough seats, and then go to the Queen and ask to form the government. She doesn’t usually say no, although there have been crises in Canada and Australia where her representatives did.

In order to get enough seats to form a government, Theresa May has struck a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which was founded by Rev. Ian Paisley to preserve Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. They have ties to right-wing paramilitary groups and despise Jeremey Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, considering him to be an “IRA Cheerleader.” They are described as “the anti-abortion pro Brexit party of climate change deniers who don't believe in LGBT rights.”

According to Business Green,

There will be particular concern amongst green groups about the DUP's record on environmental issues and climate change....

The party once appointed a climate sceptic as environment minister in Northern Ireland's Assembly and this year's manifesto made no mention of climate change or clean energy. It was also at the heart of the recent scandal over flaws in the design of the country's Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, which led to a breakdown in the Northern Ireland assembly.

"The perception of the DUP is not a pretty one for renewables and climate change," one industry source told BusinessGreen.

However they may not have influence for long; the knives are out for Theresa May and she might be turfed as leader of the Conservative Party. There is no term of office like there is for an American President; if the party turns against her she is gone. According to the Guardian:

Despite May’s business-as-usual tone, some senior Conservative figures were openly questioning how long she could remain as party leader. Nicky Morgan, who was sacked by May as education secretary last summer, said: “I’m reeling. I think we’re all reeling. I think there’s real fury against the campaign, and the buck stops at the top.”

However it should be noted that minority governments can be a very good thing; they tend to force the government into positions of compromise and moderation.

But nothing is certain. It will probably slow down and soften Brexit, and soften some of the harshest economic austerity plans. It may also lead to another election or even a Labour government. That’s the fun of a Parliamentary system; when nobody gets a majority, anything can happen.

I personally wish Lord Buckethead had won in his campaign in Theresa May's riding: