Ever heard of Political Astrology? It’s essentially, as the phrase implies, astrology applied to the political developments of a country. It’s particularly interesting because politicians in general have a poor reputation with members of the public, and this has to do with the fact that the profession they’ve chosen is – let’s face it – a rather dirty business. Whereas in everyday life, to be called immoral, power-mad, mendacious, corrupt, or dishonest is a massive insult to one’s character, in politics these are – more or less – the necessary job skills. It is why Python Eric Idle wrily observed that, ‘a lot has been said about politics; some of it complimentary, but most of it accurate’ or why Ronald Reagan once said, ‘politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.’ One skill politicians definitely have to master is being economical with the truth, hence author George Orwell noted that: ‘Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’ Nothing has changed since Orwell’s day, and we will see some of these reprehensible qualities appear in the studies that follow.
Political parties must originate somewhere, and accordingly they have a birth chart. In this post what we will see is how planetary archetypes play a role in the development of even abstract entities like a political group or party. What follows below is a glimpse at how astrology reflects the ‘personality’ and general fortunes of such institutions in the United Kingdom, and what specific planetary factors seem necessary, as it were, in order to win elections. We start with one of the oldest in existence.
THE LIBERAL PARTY AND LIBERAL DEMOCRATS
The natal chart of Liberal Party
According to the online Encyclopedia, Wikipedia: ‘The Liberal Party was a liberal political party which, with the Conservative Party, was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom in the 19th and early 20th century. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free-trade Peelites and Radicals favourable to the ideals of the American and French Revolutions in the 1850s. By the end of the nineteenth century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite splitting over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to power in 1906 with a landslide victory and introduced the welfare reforms that created a basic British welfare state. H. H. Asquith was Liberal Prime Minister between 1908 and 1916, followed by David Lloyd George. The Lloyd George coalition was dominated by the Conservative Party, which finally deposed him in 1922.’
Indeed, with the progression of Labour (ever since its formation in 1900) the Liberals were soon to be demoted into third place. There has only been three Liberal Prime Ministers since the beginning of the 20th century. Interestingly, it is a chart that does not contain a powerful placing of ruthless Pluto! Their greatest recent moment, however (at least in terms of achieving power), came in the 2010 General Election where – since no one party managed to win the 326 seats needed for an overall majority – an Alliance was eventually formed with David Cameron’s Conservative Party (who were 20 seats short of the winning line).
If we calculate another chart for the ‘birth’ of the current Liberal Democrat party, this is the result:
The natal chart of the Liberal Democrat Party
One can perhaps say that this chart represents a more caring (Cancer rising) and sympathetic (sun in Pisces) influence in its approach to the world, with the moon on the IC tied heavily into its past and history. It is interesting to note that Mars (a symbol of assertive power and ego) is somewhat hampered by the conjunction with Neptune. Whilst this aspect may be appropriate for an artist or actor, it may not be so for a political party. The extra weight from the conjunction with Saturn and Uranus (in the lower degrees) also places limits on Mars’s need to assert itself. In short, this is the chart of an entity that doesn’t like (or is even afraid ) to throw its weight around! My point being that, if one studies Political Astrology and the charts of countries, one finds that to be ‘fit for power’ (moreover, actually handling the levers of that power one usually has to see a prominent Pluto (usually close the asc. or an inner planet). It is absent from this chart, too.
The progressions to the Liberal Democrats chart for the 6th May, 2010 Election (which presaged the Alliance with the Conservatives) show the moon trine MC; and moon opposite Neptune, this latter showing how easy it was to merge with the prevailing political background (Neptune having a chameleon-like quality!) It was felt among many at the time that the Lib. Dem’s under Nick Clegg had ‘sold out’ their values and were trying to look the other way! Progressed Mercury (dialogue) also conjuncts natal sun which suggests a certain amount of prominence; better still is Jupiter’s transit to the Lib. Dem. chart, which has just crossed over the North Node by May 6th. The nodes are about ‘social connections’ with a kind of ‘bringing together’ quality (an alliance!) – successfully so when Jupiter is involved. A progressed chart for the original Liberal Party says much the same things, and repeats the significance of the progressed moon (which is conjunct the ascendant, together with Jupiter in the 1st house). Further, progressed Venus is in exact opposition to the Moon and the progressed ascendant opposes Venus. All in all these are signs of harmony and popularity – the Moon on a mundane chart symbolising the general public, or the collective ‘mood’ (that politicians try to influence!). Moon conjunct ascendant indicates that the party is nicely ‘tuned in’ to that collective mood.
The natal chart of United Kingdom Independence Party
Wikipedia informs us that UKIP was originally brought into existence to campaign for the British withdrawal from the European Union. Beginning as ‘the Anti-Federalist League, a Eurosceptic political party established in 1991 by the historian Alan Sked. The League opposed the recently signed Maastricht Treaty and sought to sway the governing Conservative Party toward removing the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU).’
However, UKIP’S poll ratings seem to have peaked long ago in June 2016, when they were at 16 per cent. Since Brexit, this has declined to the extent that they enter the next Election on 8 per cent, if recent polls are reliable. When we look back to the 2015 Election (when UKIP contested virtually every seat) they gained 13% of the vote, which made them the third biggest party in Britain.
First off, on the natal chart for UKIP, what do we find but our old friend Pluto, sensitively placed on the ascendant, in a challenging square with hardliner Saturn. Its values, therefore are rooted in tradition and conservatism. In 2015, at election time, the UKIP chart showed the progressed ascendant making trines to both the moon and Venus – this is popularity writ large in big astrological letters. (It may even be that the result surprised UKIP voters themselves.) Interestingly, the moon-Venus contact resurfaces in the UKIP solar return pertaining to May 2015 – a harmonious, attractive moon-Venus trine!
The New Statseman reported that ‘Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it has an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017’. Wikipedia also noted that in the UK, local elections of 2017, ‘UKIP lost all of the 145 seats it was defending but gained one from Labour on Lancashire County Council.’ Those local elections were held on May 4th, the time of an exact conjunction of the progressed moon and Saturn. From Feb-March 2017 when Carswell left, the moon was approaching this conjunction (a bad augur for success in the public sphere). In April, it was also exactly square to Pluto: a challenge to one’s power to put across the right image!
THE LABOUR PARTY
Next we turn to the Labour Party, which soon became the only serious rival to the Tories when fighting in General Elections. I wrote in Raphael’s Newsletter# 20 that: ‘The birth chart for the parliamentary Labour Party (formed 1906) shows Mercury, the sun conjunct Venus (plus Saturn) in Aquarius, attesting to its purpose as a party ‘for the ordinary people’. This is just what Aquarius symbolises – humanity, brotherhood and equal rights for all. This is enhanced with moon in Libra – whose ethos is justice and fairness.’
What I didn’t elaborate on was the presence of Pluto, which inhabits one of the ‘Gauquelin sectors’ just behind (but conjunct with) the ascendant. I’ve argued in this Newsletter that the presence of Pluto is crucial to the ascendancy of political power (perhaps as we might expect). I will return to briefly to the astrological trends as they are at present, but let’s take a look at one of Labour’s more phenomenal successes – the advent of Tony Blair in the 1990’s. The progressions in force on the Labour Party chart when Blair assumed leadership (21st July 1994) are highly appropriate. Welcome: ‘New Labour’.
The natal chart of the Labour Party
At the time of New Labour’s birth, progressed moon was conjunct Uranus and opposite Neptune. The first of these aspects indicates the enthusiastic, reforming zeal Blair seemed possessed of – he was apparently full of new, forward-looking ideas. At the same time, there was progressed moon opposite Neptune – an augur of things to come. Peter Oborne’s eye-opening 2005 book, The Rise of Political Lying, covers this moon-Neptune side of New Labour quite neatly – for it is an aspect of self-deception, or as Robert Hand put it, ‘escapism and fantasies’. I refer in particular to what Oborne’s book calls the ‘creeping invasion of falsehood’ that New Labour seemed to embody, and the propagation of vague, woolly concepts dressed up as policy. (Like the vision of Britain as a ‘stakeholder society’ Blair once mentioned, but soon forgot about.) Truth seemed ever more an elastic concept under New Labour. (Very Neptune!)
However, there was much sterner stuff around, too. The Election victory of 1997 on May 1st shows the progressed Labour chart with a stellium of Venus-Mars-Jupiter and Pluto. This is a combination of vigour, strength and an attractive image – embodied (one could say) by the figurehead, Blair himself. Here again we see the involvement of Pluto – always around in the charts of Big Authority or ingresses for events involving a power-bid. Plus, on the solar return chart, there is Venus conjunct Saturn, square Pluto. This suggests a more hard-headed and authoritarian approach – at least, the iron fist in the velvet glove. Blair has certainly been criticised for having a control freak style of leadership, where Cabinet meetings were not quite the democratic set-up they might have been. But this aspect can also be interpreted as indicating divisions among Labour itself: Venus is relationships generally; Saturn/Pluto is factionalism and divisiveness, challenges to the prevailing powers that be. And so we saw an obvious division between ‘New Labour’ and ‘Old Labour’ at the time.
There are also several dynamic progressions to the natal chart for Labour: Sun-Sun; Sun-Venus, Midheaven to Sun, and moon-Mercury, all within less than 1 degree of orb, plus an applying Sun-Jupiter conjunction (approximately 4 degrees from exact). The progression to Jupiter here indicates an almost talismanic protection (in terms of sustained popularity and lack of serious political challenge) as the sun moves through the zodiac about one degree every year. After the conjunction, and once the angle is separating, it has peaked and the strength of the conjunction begins to diminish. By 2001, this process had begun – by the time of the Iraqi invasion (2003) when it finally became clear that Saddam Hussein didn’t have any Weapons of Mass Destruction, a backlash against Blair and his cohorts had begun. The sun-Jupiter conjunction was losing strength and Blair’s popularity took a nosedive.
THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY
The Birth Chart of the Conservative party
As astrology shows, even political organisations can be considered a ‘living’ entity in so far as they have a beginning (reflecting the qualities of the period when they were started) a growth cycle and sometimes, even, an end. Here, in the chart of the Tory party (founded in 1867) there is a fairly clear indication of this entity’s ‘intentions’: Capricorn rising (chiming very much with Capricorn factor on the England 1066 and UK 1801 charts) would suggest a sensibility more ‘right’ than ‘left’. That is, it is about ruling and governing by the upper classes (who are simply ensuring that their privileged interests are catered to) whereas Labour was founded in the spirit of unions/workers rights and that which would benefit ‘the people’ – the ordinary working class. There exists the folk myth that the Tories are the true ruling party of England (one that may even persist to this day, for some). Let us investigate.
Look at Saturn also (Capricorn’s ruler) the planet symbolising the Father principle, or Archetype, representing all kinds of ‘masculine’ Authority. The ruling classes in England have long behaved in this patrician (‘we know what’s good for you, so just shut up’) kind of approach to the people, and it’s certain that there will never be true democracy here. (Not participatory democracy anyway – an election every five years is about all we get, but the supposed representative democracy we have is mostly a smokescreen for an elective dictatorship.)
Plus, there is the moon in earthy, practical Taurus (in the 4th house of roots, the country one belongs to). If you’re what has been belittlingly called a ‘Little Englander’ then you almost certainly vote conservative! (Then again, stereotypes often have a large grain of truth about them. The moon-Saturn opposition on the Tory chart indicates that its core values are steeped in tradition – why else would they be called the Conservatives? And so, we have a love of the past, a desire for thrift and economy and the buckle-down and make-do spirit of self reliance. This is all in keeping with a moon-Saturn opposition.
Is it any wonder that the Conservative party ended up with someone like Margaret Thatcher (one of their most successful leaders)? The key phrase here is Powerful Self Determination, indicated by Mars and Saturn in the 10th, the wide Jupiter-MC square(overweening aspiration and hunger for status), the tighter Jupiter-Saturn square (tensions via unrestrained ambition) and of course that Scorpio/Capricorn factor. Even if this self assurance is self-deluding (as it became at the end of Mrs. Thatcher’s term) objectives, policies and goals and must all be fulfilled. Remember the Poll Tax? if Tony Blair is the most memorable – some might say controversial – Labour leader of the past few decades, then Margaret Thatcher is surely the Conservative equivalent. Her office as First Lord of the Treasury (the official title of the Prime Minister) began on May 3rd 1979, and at the time the progressed Tory chart showed Uranus on ascendant.
There is a phenomenon astrologers become aware of when looking at charts, that wherever a strong planetary statement is made, one often finds it repeated elsewhere. Hence, on election day, 1979, transiting Uranus was exactly conjunct the sun on the Conservatives’ birth chart. Uranus seeks change and revolution, a swift end to the old order, and so both factors here are powerful indications that the party was about to break with tradition – certainly from the old so called ‘post-war consensus’ that had prevailed in previous governments. This was an agreement to retain a mixed economy, and one which ‘tolerated or encouraged nationalisation, strong labour unions, heavy regulation, high taxes, and a generous welfare state.’ (Wikipedia.) This tradition came to an end with Thatcher, who – having her own ideas – repudiated it.
Certainly Margaret Thatcher’s government did things considered radical (a Uranian word), much of it in an attempt ‘fix’ the economy and bring down inflation. On the UK progressed chart for this date Saturn is conjunct the ascendant, hence Mrs. Thatcher’s invocation of ‘Victorian values’: moral character, thrift, hard work and common sense – an end to seventies laissez-faire, overspending and woolly thinking. (All very Saturnian.) And so a combination of both Uranian and Saturnian influence – Uranus for how she revolutionised not only the Tory party but British politics; and Saturn for the pragmatism and ruthless efficiency with which she went about her business!
If one were also to examine the solar return chart pertaining to the 1983 election, one would predict a good year for Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives, with a stellium containing the sun, Venus and Jupiter. Of course, she was returned as Prime Minister on the 9th of June, 1983. The solar return chart pertaining to the successful third General Election on 11th of June, 1987, shows a Venus-Pluto conjunction with Moon on the IC. These reflect the traditionalism, determination, even popularity that a strongly conservative (small ‘c’) power will embody. But there were clouds on the horizon – with Saturn and Uranus in the 1st house there was conflict within the Tories between the desire for change, and the desire to retain the status quo. This, eventually, resulted in a leadership contest. Which she lost.