Although it was predicted that the by-election results would not be available until 4.00pm in the morning, I thought I would stay up for a bit. Then Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader tweeted at about 3.00am that they were on the verge of a historic victory so I dozed in the chair until the two results came through. As we suspected, Boris Johnson got a kicking, the bottom line being in both of the by-elections that either Labour or Lib Dem are quite willing to set aside their usual loyalties in order to register an anti-Conservative vote. If this pattern persists and Boris Johnson is not replaced, then there is no way that the Conservatives can form a majority government next time around. Also, no party at all will enter into an alliance with them so the longer term future of a Conservative government must look grim after they have been in power for twelve years. So eventually, I crawled into bed and got up an hour later than I normally would and then our University of Winchester friend, Meg and I had boiled eggs for breakfast – a pattern we have got out of over the years. After breakfast, I showed our guest the video clip that I had of Clive playing J. S.Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring‘ on his trumpet at our 50th wedding anniversary celebrations. Whilst I had got our personal wedding website open at the appropriate page, we also played the audio clips of the anecdote-laden speeches that both Meg and I gave separately at the celebration that was held in Yorkshire for our Yorkshire relatives as they could not necessarily travel for the celebrations we held in the Midlands. After that with may hugs, kisses and photographs taken for the records, our friend got on her way and Meg and I looked at the weather to determine whether we were going to brave a walk or not. It looked pretty threatening so we went down into town by car, picked up our newspaper and then treated ourselves to a coffee in Waitrose. Inside the store, we bumped into our Irish friend who had not seen us for a few days but knew we were still alive because she reads this blog quite regularly to ascertain that nothing dramatic has happened to us. Then it was home to have a lunch of sea-bass on a bed of lettuce which is a lightish but healthy lunch we often have on a Friday lunchtime.
This aftenoon, as I had had so little sleep last night, I allowed myself the luxury of an extended doze on the living room floor. Then, through the ether as it were, came the news from the US Supreme Court of the reversal of the classic Roe v. Wade which was the judgement in 1973 that legalised abortion across the whole of the United States. Ever since Donald Trump had appointed conservative justices to the Supreme Court ensuring a 6:3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, then it was only a matter of time before Roe v. Wade was reversed as the American right had had this in their sights for the last fifty years. Nonetheless, like the death of an aged relative, when the nws actually came though it was not unexpected but quite a shock all the same. A fair number of states had passed legislation through their Republican controlled legislatures wich was so-called ‘trigger’ legislation in that as soon as they received the green light from the Supreme Court, their own anti-abortion legislation would be immediately enacted. Jo Biden made quite a powerful speech pointing out that the national consensus that had prevailed through 50 years of both Republican and Democrat congresses and presidents was now broken. However, America is now almost completely polarised and the judgement in the Suprme Court having made may last for decades (as justices are appointed for life and you have to wait until several die before it is possible that they may be replaced by more liberal members to revert the balance).
As you might imagine, the domestic political news is dominated by the Conservative losses in the by-elections, the Liberal Democrats having got the biggest swing against the governing power ever recorded. There was a swing of 29.9% to the Liberal Democrats and as the Conservatives had a majority of more than 24,000 and the new Liberal Democrat majority is now over 5,000 then any Conservative MP with a majority of less than 30,000 might be vulnerable in a general election. On the one hand, governments always have swings against them in their mid-term. On the other hand, there now seems to be a determined mood in the electorate to try and get rid of Boris Johnson by any means possible. One scenario is that the 1922 back bench committee change their rules so that the PM can have a challenge against him within a year of the last vote and there are now a sufficient number of Tory MPs frightened of losing their own seats that they are willing to get rid of Johnson as an electoral liability (as they did with Margaret Thatcher, of course).