Friday, 8 May 2015

The Unlikely Victory

You might remember that this was supposed to be the closest election since...  well that worked out well didn't it?

The big story was set early on with the exit polls pointing to a likely Conservative majority, but with the most likely result being the Conservatives falling just short.  The exit polls have now come to pass as the Conservatives are certainly going to be the largest party, could conceivably govern as a minority with just a few seats short, but might still edge over the 326 mark.

In contrast, Labour did not perform as they should have and Scotland has been the cause of their troubles.  They simply did not handle the Referendum very well and badly mishandled the Smith Commission negotiations, standing back as the Conservatives vetoed devolution of benefits.  That's why Scotland turned it's back on Labour.  In England, Labour could not find a coherent rebuttal of the Tories charge that a vote for Labour was a vote for letting the SNP run the country.  Of course, not having a coherent economic policy played a part in Labour's defeat, as did Miliband not really looking PM material until the election campaign proper.  The speculation now will be whether Miliband will jump, or will the Blairite Labour MP's continue to agitate for his removal?  Ditto can be said about Jim Murphy.

The SNP had a night that the polls had been suggesting was on since last October, but was scarcely believable until mid March.  I've said before that this is partly anger at Labour forgetting it's heartlands in the lurch rightwards, but the foundation of this was the ground campaign from Yes Scotland in last years referendum. While the SNP won't be part of an anti austerity bloc, the emerging parliamentary figures could be more to the SNP's advantage than if Labour were the largest party.

The Lib Dems's had the night from hell.  Predicted to only hold on to 10 seats, they now look as if they'd be lucky to get to that.  The strange thing is that the Lib Dem experience in government is exactly the opposite to their experience with something called the Scottish Executive.  When they were in coalition there, they got kudos & votes.  In Westminster, they got the blame and lost their votes - the beneficiaries to the Conservatives.  When Clegg gave his victory speech in Sheffield, it sounded like resignation was on his mind.

So, no coalition talks, no uncertainties.  Cameron will be back in Number 10.  Whether it will be a small majority or a minority government (with a confidence & supply arrangement with the DUP/Ulster Unionists) remains to be seen.

So with 501 seats declared, the state of the parties is as follows.

 Conservatives     - 218
 Labour               - 200
 SNP                   - 55
 Liberal Democrat - 6
 UKIP                 - 1
Others                 - 20

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