Reflections on GE 2015: quite a night for psephologists
Early thoughts on the 2015 General Election
• SNP sweep Scotland, a seismic shift, winning 56 out of 59 seats, and missing out on the other 3 by a total of 4255 votes
• A historic landslide, winning 50% (1,454,436) of votes across Scotland, the largest vote for one party in Scotland’s electoral history, with an average swing of around 24% and a record 39% swing in Glasgow North East
• Mhairi Black, 20, is the youngest MP elected since 1667
• at least 14 of the new SNP MPs signed Friends Of The Earth’s anti-fracking/unconventionals pledge
As the third largest party the SNP could exert some influence at ‘Westmonster’: they will have a presence on every All Party Parliamentary Group; multiple select committee memberships; speak on every motion; perhaps even hold the Secretary of State for Scotland post. The weak Smith Commission proposals now look more woefully inadequate than ever. Full Fiscal Autonomy may be on the agenda to avoid constitutional crisis in a delicate Union. The legitimacy aspect is pertinent: the Conservative Government has only one MP in Scotland.
Labour didn’t lose because Scotland voted for the SNP: Labour lost because they deserted their principles a long time ago; ran down Scotland during the Referendum and since; neglected their core support and conducted a fundamentally flawed, unimaginative, gimmicky campaign (nice one Axelrod). They lost on leadership and the economy, at least in the minds of Middle England, and they didn’t do enough to change the austerity narrative.
• Labour lost seats to the Conservatives in England and would not have had a majority even if they’d won every Scottish seat.
• Scottish Labour must become truly independent if there is ever to be any recovery: a ‘root and branch’ inquest is essential.
• They need to stop vilifying the SNP and consider how they can work with other progressives, take time to appoint the right leader, ;and maybe change the name too.
• Blaming Labour’s woes on fervent nationalism is inaccurate and just goes to illustrate how out of touch they are.
Scottish Establishment politicians, the ‘Big Beasts’, were decimated:
- Douglas Alexander
- Jim Murphy
- Margaret Curran (the ‘Triple Portillo’)
- Anas Sarwar
- Ian Davidson
- Jo Swinson
- Charles Kennedy
- Danny Alexander
- Michael Moore
- John Thurso
- Gordon Brown’s (old) Kirkcaldy seat was lost
• Big names out across the UK: Ed Balls and Esther McVey amongst the most prominent to lose their seats.
• Leaders capitulating too: Miliband, Clegg and Farage have all stepped down. Murphy’s position is surely untenable?
Liberal Democrat Annihilation
• Clegg presided over the Liberal Democrats’ worst ever performance: Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Simon Hughes big casualties too. The heavy price of their Faustian Pact with the Tories.
Green Surge and Electoral Reform
• Green vote share across the UK was 4%, around 1.1 million votes, up 3%. Caroline Lucas held her seat and increased her majority.
• Electoral reform must be on the agenda again — properly this time — AV was a poor offering.
• Expect the Scottish Greens to do well under a form of PR in the Scottish Parliament elections in 2016.
• 36% on a 66% turnout voted for the ‘winning’ party is only 23.76% of the electorate. We live in a multi-party country, but cling to a two-party voting system.
Average votes required per seat illustrate the problem very well (although you also have to consider that the SNP only stood in 59 seats in Scotland):
- SNP 26k
- Conservatives 34.5k
- Labour 40.5k
- Liberal Democrats 295k
- Green 1.1m
- UKIP 3.8m
Will the Conservatives entertain this with a majority? Seems unlikely.
• BME representation is up 50% to 7%. Female representation is up by a third. Still some way to go!
Conservatives increased their seats and votes — an EU in/out referendum now seems unavoidable, as the Tories move even further right. Internal rivalries and extremes are exacerbated by a slim majority.
• Expect more austerity, more cuts — at least £12 billion — more vulnerable people left behind, rising inequality and poverty. Also:
- £100 billion on Trident replacement
- Immigrants will continue to be demonised
- NHS privatisation will continue at pace (hat-tip Crosby)
- Expect some interesting Gerrymandering too
- The Human Rights Act is doomed
- Government support for TTIP is now more likely
- The ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ will be pushed through
Dark times ahead.
• UKIP only got 1 seat, and Farage has resigned after failing to win his seat (although he may contest the leadership again).
• However, they did poll over 13% of the vote, with over 100 second places. Without Farage they could struggle, but there will undoubtedly be an EU in/out referendum now. Will that fuel them further?
• Some surprise about the accuracy of the exit polls versus the inaccuracy of weeks of preceding polls: there are problems with the methodology, but figures were within the margin of error, and vote share to seat share is always a tricky calculation under FPTP.
• Markets ‘rallied’ — the rich rejoice!
The Scottish Lion has indeed roared: independence deferred. Interesting, but uncertain times ahead.
Progressives across the UK must cooperate to oppose austerity, corporatism and me-first politics.
#GE15 #GE2015 #SNPRout
- Conservative 331
- Labour 232
- SNP 56
- Liberal Democrats 8
- UKIP 1
- Greens 1
- Plaid Cymru 3
- Others 18