The stunning Conservative victory in the United Kingdoms election, which had less to do with the U.K.s recovering economy than with identity politics, provides fascinating insight into trends shaping the country.
On the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the first of many documents that produced the uncodified British constitution, British voters seem incapable of agreeing on who they are and what binds them together.
The countrys politics now resemble a set of Japanese bento boxes with separate compartments representing various collectivist identitiesEuropean, British, English, Scottish, Anglo-Saxon and so forth.
On paper, the overriding issue in the election should have been the economy. After five years of austerity, the United Kingdom is growing at twice the rate of the European Union and the rate of participation in the labor market is at a record 73%, significantly higher than the U.S. labor participation rate, which has been stuck for months just below 63%.
On the other hand, productivity in the U.K. has barely grown, and the prospects for reducing the deficit further are dim without major new spending cuts. But all this took second place to identity-related issues.