JOHN DERBYSHIRE: U.K. Not A Happy Country. But It Knows How To Hold Elections.
Print Friendly and PDF

[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

On Thursday July 4, our mother nation, the U.K., had a general election for its main legislature, the House of Commons.

If one political party wins a majority of seats in the Commons, the leader of that party gets summoned to Buckingham Palace for the monarch to declare him Prime Minister. He then moves into the Prime Minister’s residence at Number 10 Downing Street, selects a cabinet, and commences governing.

Yesterday one political party did win a majority of those seats, a large majority—probably 412 seats in the 650-seat House. The winning party there was the Labour Party, which has not held power since 2010.

There seems not to have been much voter enthusiasm. Turnout was 60 percent of eligible voters. That is the second lowest turnout ever in a U.K. election since 1885. Only the 59 percent in 2001 was lower.

There is a widespread understanding over there that the two big parties, Labour and Conservative, are a Uniparty with few differences on topics people care about.

Outstanding among those topics is immigration. That was a driving issue in the 2016 referendum on Brexit, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. Voters wanted Britain’s sovereignty restored in full, with firm control over the nation’s borders and a return to demographic stability.

However, the Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron of the Conservative Party, was anti-Brexit. Following the referendum result he resigned, although his party stayed in power.

The next four Prime Ministers, all from the same Conservative Party, did nothing to curb immigration. They also made a pig’s ear of the Brexit negotiations with Europe, to the country’s economic disadvantage.

By July 4th, 2024 there was serious, widespread disillusion with the Conservative Party. Nobody much was excited about the opposition Labour Party; but desire to punish the Conservatives for their failures and their empty promises was running high.

In fairness to the Labour Party, there were other things on voters’ minds besides revenge. There was, for instance, the National Health Service, which is a sort of sacred totem in British politics.

If you’ve followed much, you likely know the name of Enoch Powell, who is a favorite with every Brit of National Conservative views, and with a great many Americans, too (including me). Powell was a champion of the Health Service, and actually served as Minister of Health, in charge of the show, for three years in the early 1960s.

That’s what I mean by calling the NHS a totem, beloved by Brits of all political inclinations.

However, it was born as a project of the post-WW2 Labour government, so traditional Labour voters feel it belongs to them more than to Conservatives.

Well, the National Health Service is in trouble. There are shortages of doctors and nurses, long waiting lists for even quite simple operations, shortfalls in funding, and so on.

Brits aren’t happy about their cherished NHS; and with its Labour Party origins in mind, they believe that Labour is more likely than Conservatives to carry out necessary repairs. They may be wrong; but it’s inarticulate, atavistic feelings of this sort that drive a lot of politics everywhere.

An interesting feature of this election has been the Muslim breakaway. It’s been known to psephologists for years that Brits of Hindu ancestry favored the Conservative Party, while those from Pakistani or Indian Muslim families went for Labour. In yesterday’s election, however, there were several independent candidates on an openly Muslim platform.

Several won election. One was up in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in England’s northeast, the parliamentary constituency of Dewsbury and Batley.

Yorkshire … the West Riding … Dewsbury and Batley … It couldn’t sound more English, could it? Well, this winning candidate’s name is Iqbal Mohamed, below at the podium.

He got nearly 16,000 votes, with the Labour Party candidate coming second with less than nine thousand.

The BBC sent a reporter up to Dewsbury on Friday morning, to interview some voters. Here are the names of the sturdy English townsfolk they interviewed.

Rachel Carter, Rehana Ismail, Manzur Ahmed, Liyakatali Muller, Mohammed Rasab

Dewsbury voters welcome historic independent MP, BBC, July 5, 2024

Reading those names, you can’t help but quietly wonder to what degree the Third World immigrants have brought in with them Third World election-rigging habits [Pakistan’s surprising and marred 2024 election, and what comes next, by Madiha Afzal,, February 29, 2024] … But that is of course a disgracefully Islamophobic, White Supremacist thought. Begone, evil thought!

The U.K. is not a happy country. Yesterday’s result is not likely to make it any happier. In one respect, though, the Brits have held on to their traditional common sense and distaste for fuss and bother. That is in the actual management of elections.

This entire election campaign lasted six weeks. Voting took place yesterday. First thing this morning, with the result not in doubt, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak went to Buck House to hand in his resignation to King Charles. The King accepted it.

Shortly afterwards, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer arrived at the palace to officially be declared Prime Minister.

By Friday afternoon local time all results had been counted and recorded. We’ll hear the names of Sir Keir’s cabinet over the weekend. The new House of Commons will take their seats next Tuesday, July 9th.

As unhappy as the Brits may be, they still know how to conduct an election and change governments fast and fairly. We should watch and learn.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire’s writings at can do so here.

Print Friendly and PDF