Reflections on Elections: tsunamis, tidal waves, tectonic shifts, hat eating and a major balls up.
By Sarah Lieberman, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations
I predicted the outcome of this election. I didn’t tell many people, but those I did tell laughed at me and showed me opinion polls. I stuck to my guns: the Tories would gain a narrow majority, enough to form a majority government. This, at 9.30am, 8th May, appears to be the case. If you read to the end, I might tell you the rest of my prediction…
Nailing my colours to the post, I want to admit that this was not my preferred outcome. I would have most liked to have seen a minority Labour government form coalition with the Greens (who would have in this utopian view gained around 8 seats) and with the SNP, who would have shared the Scottish vote with Scottish Labour. This did not happen. Even I did not vote in a way that would have allowed this to happen (I voted local… )
Tsunamis and other media tripe
Most of the metaphors being thrown around by national radio and television stations this morning are geographic in nature. A tidal wave hit Scotland. This washed out all ‘national’ parties and allowed the ‘national’ party to paint the constituency map a slightly brighter shade of yellow. This has been referred to as a tectonic shift in British politics by Nicola Sturgeon: it certainly is. Labour have been wiped out (the Tories were expelled by those north of Hadrian’s Wall a good while back). The SNP have won 50% of the vote and 56 of 59 seats. The Scottish Nationalist Party are the third party in Westminster.
This is an interesting time: only last year the Scottish population voted 55.3% against independence. Somewhere, along the line, 5.3% have shifted perspective. Perhaps they still do not want independence: but they have spoken and now will have a different voice in London; a more Scottish accent in Westminster; a burr that cannot be ignored. Further devolution? Another referendum? Or simply a stronger voice in Westminster? Let’s wait and see…
This Tsunami also took out the Liberal Democrats. Big style. The huge pink Nicola Sturgeon shaped hurricane that hit the Highlands left Danny Alexander stranded in his wake: no great loss in my personal opinion, I always thought his greatest achievement was his startling resemblance to Josh Homme. The big(ger than predicted) blue wave that hit England took out the rest of their big hitters, and Ed Balls.
green blue and precious land
So what about England? This has mostly been coloured-in capital C blue. With patches of red here and there, a little bit of Green in Brighton and a small dot of purple in Clacton. What happened to the big UKIP threat? Over the past week or so, the press started taking as though Scottish Nationalism was the greater threat (it certainly seems more popular) and with the drop in press coverage came a drop in interest in Farage’s merry men. Farage is did not win his seat in South Thanet and by now he has probably / hopefully resigned as party leader.
UKIP candidates and supporters are today talking loudly about electoral reform: losing parties always do the day after an election. However, the British public were consulted on electoral reform only recently, and it turned out they were not interested. The same British public of whom 13% voted UKIP. Yes, there is a reason Britain has employed the First-Past-the-Post system for centuries, precisely to avoid the democratic will of the 13% and those who do not understand voting systems.
Get back to the ballots!
However, it is very interesting to note that the big issues of the day concern topics that have recently been the subject of referenda: electoral reform and Scottish independence. The next big issue to hit will be another referendum – Europe.
If my predictions continue to be fulfilled, then Europe could be the end for Cameron. He only has a small majority, many of his back benchers are staunch anti-Europeans, he needs their support but he knows that Brexit is a terrible idea. What does he do? He wavers. His backbenchers start to withdraw their support and in some cases defect. He suffers a vote of no confidence – perhaps on Europe, perhaps on another policy area. We see another general election within the next two years. I see my Labour-SNP-Green coalition come to fruition.
Go on, put a bet on it. I wish I had done last week.