In a stunning UK election result, David Cameron and the Conservatives will have the numbers to govern alone:
- With only one result to go, the BBC forecasts that the Conservatives will end up with 331 seats in the House of Commons, 24 more than in 2010. Labour will end up with 232, the Lib Dems 8, the SNP 56, Plaid Cymru 3, UKIP 1, the Greens 1 and others 19.
- Mr Cameron’s rivals Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have all resigned after election disappointment.
Prior to the election Seumas Milne spelt out what this will mean for voters:
- we know what to expect. With or without Nick Clegg, it will mean even deeper austerity, harsher cuts to social security, accelerating NHS privatisation, more attacks on workers’ rights, new handouts to the wealthy, more poverty and job insecurity, and perhaps another downturn in the slowest economic recovery on record.
Advised by the vile Australian alchemist, Lynton Crosby, the Tories ran a late scare campaign on two counts. First, they suggested that there would be some kind of “legitimacy crisis” if Labour attempted to form a minority government with fewer seats than the Tories. That was assuming, as seemed likely from the polls, that neither major party would have a majority. This, of course, was nonsense.
Secondly, they stoked English fears that the Scots would have undue influence over Labour and too much English taxpayer dosh would disappear north of the border.
Ironically the Scots could disappear altogether. Winning 56 of the 59 seats, but lacking any influence at all, separatist moves could reappear.
The Lib Dems have been decimated, going from 57 seats to 8. They could struggle to survive as a significant force. Many of the 45 seats they lost went to the Tories, but the Tories only gained 25 seats, so Labour must have picked up quite a few.
Labour lost 26 seats overall, but retained only one in Scotland. I think this means they actually gained seats in the rest of the country.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) fizzled, gaining only one seat after polling up to 25% a year ago.
The Green Party also only got one seat with 3.8% of the vote. Minor parties find it hard to gain any momentum in the antiquated and undemocratic first past the post system.
Now the interest will be in who Labour elects as leader (it will take some months), when Cameron will resign (he said he would during the term), and whether the UK or what’s left of it will stay in the EU, come the referendum in 2017.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (“Boris”) waits.
Tom Quinn offers this analysis of labours performance:
- The roots of Labour’s defeat can be traced back to 2010, when the party chose Ed Miliband as its leader. Forgoing his slicker, better-known brother David, it apparently bought into the younger Miliband’s soft-left strategy of opposing the coalition’s austerity policies, on the assumption it would fail and become wildly unpopular among voters.
Ultimately, Miliband’s Labour party failed to offer a convincing narrative of its economic mistakes in government before 2010. Instead, Labour activists and trade unionists wanted a return to core Labour values and left-leaning policies after the centrism of the 1990s and 2000s. It turned out that the electorate did not.
Quinn points out that if Labour had retained all its Scottish seats it still would have lost the election. Yes, but only because a goodly number of Lib Dem voters decided to vote for real Tories rather than fake ones. Outside Scotland the voters did buy Miliband’s Labour to some degree.
The Scots switched from Labour to the SNP, the Lib Dems were decimated, those were the two big moves.
Jonny Dymond points out that Labour is squeezed geographically. The north has gone SNP, the south, bar London, is solidly Tory.
Finally, the pollsters will now examine the entrails to see where they went so wrong. Not one of them was even close.