Final general election recap: week ending 10/05

By Siva Thangarajahpoll

The nation is still reeling from the completely unprecedented election result. Not only did the electorate defy the polls and turn out a Conservative majority with 331 seats, the SNP won all but 3 of 59 seats in Scotland. However, these victories came with massive losses to both Labour, Lib Dems and arguably, UKIP. The leaders of all these parties stepped down in the face of the extremely disappointing result for these parties.

For UKIP, although they amassed millions of votes, it only translated into 1 seat due to the nature of the first-past-the-post system.  After Nigel Farage lost his highly contested seat in Thanet South to the Conservatives, he officially resigned as leader but stated he may run again.

Labour also had a very disappointing night, only winning 232 seats and making major losses in previous Labour strongholds, such as Ed Ball’s constituency of Morley and Outwood. Part of this is due to fact that some of their working-class voters turned to UKIP, and they lost the majority of their Scottish base to the SNP. In this light, Ed Miliband resigned on Friday afternoon, saying that there was much work to be done to continue the message of his party.

The most tragic story of the night was probably the fall of the Lib Dems, with Danny Alexander and most of his fellow MPs losing their seats, with the party only winning 8. This is a massive loss compared to the 58 seats they won in the last election.  A weary-looking Nick Clegg stepped down, although with the promise that the Lib Dems will return.

As this is a weekly column, let’s quickly flashback to the beginning of the week, in the last few days running up to Election Day. The polls were at a standstill, forecasting 35% for both Labour and the Conservatives, with a fluctuating margin of 1%. The parties had started to wind down their campaigning; with no more big promises to reveal, they largely went back to the basic grassroots activism and focusing on their core message.

For the Conservatives, this meant focusing on their ‘long-term economic plan’ and taking to various media outlets to claim that voting for Labour will mean a Labour-SNP coalition, putting the ‘United Kingdom at risk’. This raised accusations of negative campaigning and divisive tactics, rousing up English Nationalism to persuade people to vote Tory. This has turned out to be a double edged sword in the form of the SNP dominating Scotland, so now we shall simply have to see how Cameron negotiates Scottish demands.

Going back to Labour’s earlier campaign, Ed Miliband revealed a gigantic slab of stone entitled ‘Labour Commandments’ in the traditional fashion of the Old Testament, with the main pledges engraved on it. This was met with derision by both broadcast and especially social media, and this bold move unfortunately did not translate into votes. Caught in a post-Blairite identity crisis, Labour will now have to completely redefine the image of their party and find where exactly they ideologically stand, with a fresh new face.

As a truly unique political landscape, with a majority Tory government in England and an SNP-strong Scotland, we will simply have to see how the increasingly fractured face of the UK government copes with this new situation.

Photograph: Wikipedia 

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