Analysis: A New Day For Conservatism

May 12, 2015 • Europe, Politics, UK

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How David Cameron Was Handed Number 10 By The Folly Of The Left

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If you woke up on May the 8th in a state of disbelief you were not alone. All the pre-election talk of rainbow coalitions, minority governments and SNP courting proved to be nothing more than the fantasy of pollsters. When the reckoning came, David ‘Call me Dave’ Cameron’s Conservatives defied all predictions; managing a hardly believable 329 seats, enough for a majority government.

How could this happen? The feeling of disbelief was palpable as returning officers declared results from Edinburgh South to Ilford North. Political commentators struggled to find answers; was it bad polling, last minute voters, closet Tories? Does it really matter?

The die has been cast – the Tories will form a majority government. But will this be an easier ride for Mr Cameron? Whilst leading a coalition government, the Prime Minister did face opposition from his Liberal Democrat partners when it came to some of his more abrasive policies, abolishing the Human Rights Act for one. However, the Lib Dems proved to be in the most part very amenable, willing to steer away from playing party politics to form a government that could actually govern in a ‘tit for tat’ coalition. Nick Clegg, for example, would agree on a reduction in top rate tax in exchange for raising the threshold for entering tax all together. This time around David Cameron may not find it so easy despite working with his own party. Yes the Lib Dems voted him down but Mr Cameron may find his own members far harder to corral when it comes to voting on bills. There is dissent in the ranks, despite the unified celebrations on May the 8th, the Tory leader can no longer rely on fifty or so Liberal Democrat MPs to cover rebellious Tory backbenchers opposing him. It could take as little as four members voting against Mr Cameron (if all other MPs are voting against) to derail a government motion or bill in the house. Until the Prime Minister puts down a time frame for dealing with the European elephant in the room he can expect to be held hostage by the eurosceptic right of the party. We may see that referendum on Europe after all.

What happened to Labour? Was it simply a case of the wrong Miliband? Possibly. Or did he simply lead Labour too far to the left, alienating the parties more aspirational (read middle class) supporters, who had been hard won under ‘New Labour’? You can hardly blame the former Labour leader for leading his party in this direction, after all it was the union’s support that landed him the party leadership over his brother in the first place. Maybe the nasal, slightly awkward Ed Miliband was simply unelectable in the minds of the British public, whatever the reason, Labour could only take a net two seats from the Conservatives. They weren’t even close.

On May 8th a post mortem on the rapidly decaying body of the liberal movement was ordered. The Liberal Democrats were all but wiped from the political map; now leaderless, with just eight MPs, and many of the parties biggest names ousted from their seats, the party is in dire straights. Ultimately the Lib Dems paid the price for participating in coalition government, by not seeming to stand up to the Tories and their policy of austerity, they became collaborators and the electorate showed their disdain and mistrust at the polling station. Is this the end of Democratic Liberalism in the UK? Probably not, it will need a rebrand no doubt, and an injection of youth and energy before it can once again have a meaningful presence in British politics. Five years of unbridled Conservative government may just be what is needed to illustrate to voters their important and under-reported work, undertaken during their time in coalition. Without doubt they need a leader possessed with charisma and drive to deliver a clear party message that became all too muddled during this campaign.

Though we may have been in a state of political confusion in England, the Scottish people have clearly spoken. The Scottish National Party heralded an astounding victory, very nearly taking all of the Scottish constituencies leaving three seats for the three main parties – Scotland had turned SNP yellow. In contrast to their southern neighbour, Scotland had voted for no austerity, no nuclear weapons and more public spending. It was a clear indictment of a people who feel marginalised by a Westminster set that does not care for Scottish issues. The Scots may not want independence but they have given the SNP a clear mandate to enter the Houses of Parliament and pursue an agenda for Scotland.

You can say what you like about Nigel Farage and his UKIP party but it won’t change the fact they polled the third highest amount of votes with over four million. It was a victory for him and his party’s promise of no nonsense straight up politics, but it should have been even greater. The same goes for the greens who had 1 million votes, both parties ended election night with the same amount of MPs they started the night with, at just one apiece. This highlights the biggest issue of the UK voting system, how a party can have the same presence in Parliament as another party despite having four times the amount of votes. The fact the Lib Dems have seven more seats than UKIP despite actually receiving less votes proves the current system is not a true representation of the want of the people. Electoral reform should be in both the Green’s and UKIP’s manifestos going forward.

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