The General Election 2015

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Here we are. My last post, before I go into hibernation for the exam season. But I need to cover this before I go, as it is a very important topic. 2015’s General Election. The first one I actually voted in. And, from reading a few social media posts and news reports, I have several things to address.

For those of you who live under a rock, I will give you a brief summary of events. The BBC Exit polls predicted a slim Conservative Majority, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats losing seats, while the SNP would make massive gains, and parties like the Green Party, as well as UKIP, would come out with around 2 seats, here’s how It came out:

Conservative: 331 Seats
Labour: 232 Seats
SNP: 56 Seats
Liberal Democrats: 8 Seats
DUP: 8 Seats
Sinn Fein: 4 Seats
Plaid Cymru: 3 seats
Ulster Unionist Party: 2 seats
UKIP: 1 Seat
Green Party: 1 Seat
Independent: 1 Seat

So the Exit poll was pretty much accurate. We have our Conservative Majority. But it wasn’t what a lot of us expected. The British Public were expecting another coalition, a rainbow coalition in fact. Labour and Conservatives were expected to tie, whilst both tried to get all the smaller parties to support them. But it simply didn’t come to that. And there are a few¬†reasons that I think were responsible:

  1. The SNP are now the third largest party in Parliament. This has negatively effected Labour’s chances. The Nationalism bug had bitten Scotland in last year’s referendum. A lot of people in Scotland are rightfully bitter that they didn’t get their independence, and so they voted SNP, which has taken Labour’s seats. Without those seats, Labour will no longer realistically have a majority in Parliament. Which will lead to a future point in this post.
  2. The Liberal Democrats. In the original opinion polls, the Lib Dems were going to make losses. But even I expected them to keep, at least, 20 seats. They managed to keep 8 seats. The Lib Dem vote has been destroyed, and disenchanted voters across the UK switched to Conservatives, who ate up most of the Lib Dem seats. For the time being, the Lib Dems are no longer a major party, with their leader resigning. I kind of pity them. In fact, their Southport MP, John Pugh won with only 31% of the vote, one of the weakest mandates in the UK.
  3. The UKIP effect. UKIP only won one seat, but they won a hell of a lot of votes. In this election, UKIP’s euro-sceptic and strong policies on immigration control has roused the country in a political uproar. We had Conservatives defecting, we had Farage on TV, and UKIP is now a ‘fourth party’. They won one seat, and lost their other seat to the Conservatives again, who they won it off in a By-election. I figure that this was due to voters coming back to the Conservatives, or perhaps they didn’t. Which again, Im going to refer to in a moment.
  4. Turnout. It went up 1%. Yeah, it isn’t as high as it was in the past, as we’re nowhere near the 74% turnout of 1997’s General election, but it is a lot better than the paltry 2001 GE 59% Turnout. I feel that this boost is due to young people. Out of the 18-25 year olds who could vote, around 58% of them actually did, and that is an increase from 52% in 2010, and 38% in 2005. Really good for my generation, and could be a turning point for turnout, I think it will continue to go up each successive election.

Voting has been an important theme of this election. The voting behaviour of the electorate has not been tactical. Between 1983-2010, there was actually a strong tactical vote in the election, but now that’s gone. Tactical voting isn’t a reason that people vote the way they do, because parties are pretty weak. Who is the most likely to win? No one. If you wanted to get rid of an MP, you vote for the party with the highest chance, or at least you did. Not now. No one knew who the strongest party was. That split the vote, and some kept their seats, while other parties crept in. And this; I feel, killed the Liberal Democrats, who lost 48 seats. Safe seats are also gone as a result of this. Arguably, no one is safe anymore.

A key theme of this election, and a key theme of politics in the months and possibly years to come, is voting. We need reform. We rejected reform in the AV Referendum, and now FPTP is broke. In our system, the SNP have 56 seats with 4.7% of the national vote (The Scottish vote). Yet the SNP have 8% of the seats in Parliament. Parties like UKIP, with 1 MP, won 12.6% of the vote, but only had one seat. The Conservative majority was won with a share of 36.8% of the vote, yet they have a 51% seat share. These results highlight the disproportionality of seats in the UK. We have a system where the Tories have a winners bonus, and that is not fair. Wasted votes are what stop people voting in the election. This is similar to 1974, when Labour won more seats, with less votes than the Tories, who won less seats but a higher proportion of the votes. This needs to change. Electoral reform is an issue again, and by god, we need to educate people on this. If not, we’ll be stuck with FPTP. And I don’t want that. I regret not knowing enough when I was 14, but I am 4 years older, I know more stuff, and I urge to to campaign for voting reform. I’ll link a petition here:

http://action.makeseatsmatchvotes.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1754&ea.campaign.id=38262&ea.tracking.id=facebook

I’d like to end this post with a few words to my friends who feel disenchanted with all that has occurred, and to those scared of the Conservative Party.¬†We know who won, and we know who lost, and we know why said people lost. But I must say, given the the disenchantment of some people here, I’d argue that we’re in a better position with our Government now. They have just over 326 seats, a slim majority. They won on 37% of the vote. Older members of this page will no doubt remember a similar situation in 1974. We have a majority, with no mandate. And, of course, they want to keep that mandate. We have the gun to their head. If we don’t like the cuts, if we want our NHS, we will use our gun. Scotland may have taken away Labour’s chances of a overall majority in a FPTP system, but the SNP are so feverishly anti tory, we have them on our side. We still have Marie Rimmer, we still have 8 Lib Dem MP’s, we have a Green and a UKIP. We even have a House of Lords, who will no doubt stop a good chunk of Tory policy. We’re down, but not out. At least that’s my POV. Don’t be disheartened. Voting is only one way of getting this country’s voice heard.

Thank you for reading this post. I will be taking some time out to focus on exams. Over the next month, all the posts between May and June will be guest bloggers. Who know’s, you may like their stuff. But for now, goodbye, and keep thinking.

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Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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