I’m paying half an eye’s worth of attention to the British election results as they roll in today, and thinking about how strange that country’s political landscape feels to me now, after nearly two decades living in the U.S.
It’s not just that there’s multiple political parties compared to the United States’ ridiculous, archaic two party system. (There’s an argument to be made, I think, that the U.S. doesn’t really have a two party system as much as a system that thinks it’s a dichotomy but is far more complicated in practice. But I’m sure that, if I made that argument, it would lead to being disagreed with at high volume by self-proclaimed experts, so maybe not.)
Even considering the many, many parties that hold some level of power, however — be they the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, UKIP, and so on — it probably should be noted that the political reality of the U.K. is far more complicated than it seems on the face of it. The Labour Party of the United Kingdom isn’t really the same as the Labour Party of Scotland, and Scottish Labour and “Labour” Labour are different again from Welsh Labour. The same with… well, every single different area in the country.
On paper, they’re the same parties, or at least affiliated with each other, but in practice… not so much. And so you end up with something that is unfolding today, where Labour Labour is losing seats while Welsh Labour is making big gains and Scottish Labour is less successful in a country predominantly left-leaning than the right wing Scottish Conservative Party, because the SNP has taken that demographic for themselves, and and and…
I feel as if things were simpler back when I lived there, but that might be a combination of nostalgia and fooling myself. Maybe I was just paying more attention and not an ocean away, trying to figure out if what was happening was a good thing or not and failing quite so hard.