If you’re unfamiliar with how the British parliamentary system works, you’re not far behind me. It can be a little confusing if you’ve been in the American system your entire life with Republican versus Democratic in Presidential, House, and Senate elections. The Brits do it a little different.
I’ll explain how it works. Consider it a UK primer for dummies written by a dummy.
The UK has The Conservatives (like our Republicans) and the Labour party (which is like our Democratic party). The voters don’t elect a Prime Minister outright. They vote for Parliament and the majority party sends their leader to 10 Downing Street (their White House, sort of). The unique thing about this is that the Prime Minister is still a member of Parliament. Imagine if Donald Trump was still a Congressman while he’s also president.
Like the U.S. the United Kingdom has scheduled elections, but under certain circumstances the Prime Minister can call a “snap” election. What sort of circumstances? Usually because they want to. The next regularly-scheduled election was for 2020 but Theresa May got a little antsy.
After the Brexit vote the Prime Minister, David Cameron resigned. He had opposed leaving the European Union and left to make way for a Prime Minister who would support it. Enter Theresa May, the new Prime Minister. Theresa wanted to increase her majority so she would have a mandate for negotiating leaving the EU. She and the Conservatives felt they would greatly increase their numbers. It didn’t work out for them.
They still have their majority but the Conservatives lost 13 seats, thus they lost their “working” majority. The Labour party picked up 30 seats. Before the election was called the Conservatives were leading in the polls by 20 points.
What hurt the Conservatives? First off, Theresa May is a terrible campaigner (imagine Hillary but less charming). The choice to leave the European Union started to sour. The terror attacks hurt, but probably not as much as Theresa’s response which was to instill fear and hate in her nation. Theresa May was sounding a bit too much like Donald Trump. Guess who’s not very popular in the UK. Donald Trump. In The UK, “Trump” is slang for fart. It’s becoming slang for a LOT of things in the U.S.
Trump wasn’t popular in the UK before the recent attacks in London. The animosity towards him increased after his response was to criticize and feud with the city’s mayor. Theresa May didn’t stick up for the mayor. Many felt she is an appeaser to Trump. We have a bunch of those here in the U.S.
Trump is so unpopular in England that he’s now considering delaying his upcoming visit. According to The Guardian, Trump told May “he did not want to visit until he had support from the British public.” So apparently Trump is NEVER going to visit England. Trump likes adoring crowds. Not crowds that will call him a “Cheeto-stained shitgibbon.” I think “shitgibbon” is the British way of saying he’s a “shit weasel.”
Theresa May may want Trump to delay his visit. While she has a majority, she does not have a “working” majority which her party needs to control Parliament. The only way they can have the working majority is to create an alliance with a fringe political party from Northern Ireland (Parliament has several parties while we just have the two). Her party is already upset with her for calling an unnecessary election and losing seats. New video footage of May holding hands with Trump, like she did in Washington, probably want warm her up more to the Brits, and her party can dump her for a new PM.
If Theresa May doesn’t understand that her nation doesn’t like Donald Trump, then she’s more out of touch with the United Kingdom than I am.
Creative notes: A few of my cartooning colleagues have made comments to me about my knack for drawing crowds. Most refuse to go into it as much as I do because they hate drawing crowds. That’s OK, because each of them does something really detailed and technical that I can’t draw.
Most cartoonists hate lettering and drawing a whole bunch of people. I don’t really mind either, but I don’t want to do a lot of it every day. This cartoon has both so my next drawing will probably be wordless stick figures.
I did some research on this and visited a few sites to look up British insults (again. Hey, there might be something new), and protest signs. I also made a call to my friend, Rebecca Hendin, who is an American working for Buzzfeed in their London office. She’s the perfect person for me to get details from since she’s in London, she draws cartoons, and being a fellow Yank, she knows how stupid I am. She threw about 29 links at me, each of a different protests. They’ve been having a LOT of protests in England lately.
Some of the signs in this cartoon are from actual protesters. Others I manipulated and made my own. There were several words I chose not to use as I want this cartoon to be printed in U.S. newspapers and some of my editors might look up the definitions. Those words are “wanker,” “Brexshit,” “tosser,” twat”, and “bawbag.” I really wanted to use “bawbag.”
The two things I’m really proud of with my English lineage is the style of humor and the cursing. Nobody curses better than those in the UK. They’re just mean, especially the Scottish. I’m kinda scared of Scotland.
By the way, this cartoon took over EIGHT hours to draw. Yes. Eight. This is what it looked like around six hours.
Clay Jones can be reached at [email protected]