Tag Archives: 2015 General Election

Post election thoughts and analysis

So, 3 days after the election results became clear, I finally feel able to put my thoughts into words. Although I made it clear in previous posts that I don’t take much notice of opinion polls, mainly because percentage vote share doesn’t neatly relate to our first past the post system, I didn’t expect them to be so completely wrong.  As a result I was somewhat shocked, to say the least!

I have reblogged Angela‘s post, or you can read it here. She makes some very good points, and I recommend you read it.

As for my thoughts, well it was clear that Cameron played a clever trick, using the politics of fear to paint Labour as being totally dependent on the SNP, and in spite of Labour’s protests, much of the electorate were taken in by him.

In Scotland, Labour probably paid the price for going in with the Conservatives and LibDems in the No campaign, although it is hard to see what else they could have done. I was very impressed by the words of Tom Harris, defeated Labour candidate and former Labour MP for Glasgow South, who said: ‘Let me just say one thing by way of an attempt at political analysis: it’s (probably correctly) assumed that Scottish Labour has paid the price for its support for the No campaign in last year’s referendum. If that is indeed the case, then I have to conclude that it was a price that had to be paid. I and many Scottish Labour colleagues lost our jobs last night, and that’s to be regretted. But if we had lost the referendum, we would have lost our country, and that would have been far, far worse.’ I totally echo these sentiments. We still have the union, and Scottish Labour can rebuild.

As for Labour in England, I don’t subscribe to the view that there is some great crisis that will take years to get over. Ed Miliband did a decent job in the campaign, but throughout the last parliament, and in the campaign itself, not enough was made of the fact that the financial crisis was actually a result of the banking crisis, and that things would have been far worse had Gordon Brown not acted as he did to shore the banks up. Some of these points are made by John Prescott in his Mirror article which appeared over the weekend.  Instead, Labour need a new leader (soon, let’s not wait until September like last time), and a period of strong opposition needs to start. There are many unpopular policies (the bedroom tax to name but one), and the Tory majority is not large.

The European Union referendum is also cause for concern, and a concerted effort needs to be made to emphasise the benefits of our membership. The debate will not be balanced, with so much anti-EU sentiment in the right-wing press, but I am encouraged by the work of groups like British Influence who are already campaigning strongly.

Now it’s time to move on. I will be doing what I can to support Labour’s cause, and the UK’s continuing membership of the EU.  And as if that wasn’t enough, the SNP will probably push for another Independence Referendum in a few years. Difficult times lie ahead indeed.

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THE 2015 BRITISH ELECTION RESULT

This was written on the day after the election, and says it all. I am still struggling with writing my own post-election blog post, but it will undoubtedly draw on this one for inspiration!

angiesallsorts

Prime Minister David Cameron has more than the minimum requisite number of seats to hold a Conservative majority government. The outcome seems to have surprised the TV pundits who expected days of negotiations to form another coalition alliance. My more politically savvy husband Rob is absolutely crest-fallen at the election results, although he admits that I sagely predicted weeks ago the shock waves that have reverberated from this vote.

In 2010 Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg faired very well in the 3 party election debates, and gained far more seats than expected as a result. This enabled his party (third in size) to form a partnership with the Conservatives to govern the country. However, that un-holy alliance I believe caused the support harnessed five years ago to disappear. Thus the 57 seats from 2010 have diminished to just 8 today. Areas deemed a bastion for Liberal Democrat support have…

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Pre-election thoughts

With the election a few hours away, it’s a case of being patient and controlling expectations. The polls suggest a close result, but as I’ve said before, I don’t take much notice of them, since percentage vote nationwide may not correspond to the results of our first past the post system. I discussed this in detail in a previous post.

For me, the worst outcome would be the Conservatives being returned with enough seats to form a government outright. I’m very concerned about the possibility of a EU referendum (which they have promised), because the result could well be that we leave the EU. (There’s a lot of misunderstanding about the benefits of our EU membership, but that’s a discussion for another day). Another coalition with the LibDems would be a slightly less scary scenario, but it remains to be seen how many seats they get this time. Whether they would have enough political muscle to prevent an EU referendum probably depends on this.

I hope that Labour don’t do as badly in Scotland as predicted (again, see a previous post). A sizeable number of SNP MPs in the Westminster parliament only hastens, in my opinion, the formation of a separate English parliament, and further devolution.

So, while there’s still a chance of Labour getting enough seats to form a government, there’s hope. But it’s a tough call. More once we know the result.

The Labour vote in Scotland and the SNP effect

With the election less than a week away, I have been thinking about what may or may not happen in Scotland regarding the Labour vote and the possibility that the SNP will take Labour seats. I say the ‘possibility’ because I don’t take opinion polls too seriously, as discussed in my last post!

Just over 7 months ago the Scottish Independence Referendum was coming up. Labour in Scotland rightly (in my opinion) sided with the No campaign. At the time many who voted Yes confused unpopular domestic policies (e.g. the bedroom tax) with the real issues surrounding independence. Although Labour would abolish this tax (for example) if elected, they may have lost support of some of the electorate now, simply because they were against independence. Add to this the fact that the areas that voted Yes contain several Labour seats (and are areas of high population density, which explains the number of seats), and the threat becomes clear. There is the distinct possibility that some voters in previously strong Labour seats will vote for the SNP because they still resent Labour’s support for the No campaign.

So, although I don’t believe anything can be predicted reliably in this election, if Labour lose seats in Scotland, there is no need for a serious post mortem. Instead they must campaign against the SNP on policies that will win them votes in future elections. Once the dust has settled on the Independence debate, the ‘progressive’ agenda of the SNP will come into focus, and its deficiencies hopefully exposed. It is difficult to do this at present, while Nicola Sturgeon rides on a tide of post-referendum hype. Scottish Labour needs to be patient; their time will come again.

Opinion polls – don’t overhype them!

As the election campaign continues (with just over two weeks to go before polling), the media continually report the latest opinion polls, which mostly show Labour and the Conservatives at both around 33-34%. Conclusions and predictions are being made on the basis of these results, but do they actually mean anything?

An opinion poll is a poll of the voting intentions of a cross section of the population. Polls can be carried out by telephone or online. But my problem with them is that they bear almost no relation to what happens on polling day, as I will discuss.

Our voting system in the UK is ‘first past the post’; in other words, in a particular constituency, the person who gets the most votes is elected. An opinion poll carried out within a constituency could give meaningful results if enough voters are included, because it can give an indication of the likely outcome of the election in that constituency. But this is not the case for an opinion poll that covers more than one constituency, or is country-wide. Why? Because we don’t have proportional representation, and percentage support across constituencies does not necessarily translate into actual seats in parliament. For that reason, they have little meaning, and are best ignored. Certainly they shouldn’t be used to make predictions!

Currently the main arguments in the campaign seem to be concerned with the possible role of the SNP in the next parliament. Even though Labour have made it very clear that they would not form a coalition with them, the Conservatives keep banging on about the danger to the UK if they did. At the end of the day, the extent of the SNP’s influence will depend on how many seats they get, and whether they will win seats from Labour.  And since the only predictions about this come from opinion polls, my view is that we must wait and see! It’s going to be a long 16 days.

The campaign rumbles on

This election campaign already seems to be dragging. With the election itself more than 3 weeks away, the party manifestos are only just appearing, and all that seems to have happened so far is that the rival parties are making claims about what they would do if elected, claims are often completely unsubstantiated.

For example, the Tories keep making promises about money that they would spend (today it was increasing the level at which inheritance tax is payable, yesterday it was the NHS, etc.) But at the same time they go on about making savings ‘to reduce the deficit’. Do they really think the electorate are all stupid? (No further comment on that one!) On the other hand, Labour seemed to capture the mood when they announced that they would remove ‘non-dom’ status; quite right, and it’s shocking that it even still exists in my view. And for a change, this claim was costed out.

I have to mention the attack by the Tory defence minister on Ed Miliband, which seemed to be based on some kind of Cain and Abel conspiracy. I think Ed emerged from that the stronger; after all, he and his brother were only rivals for the party leadership, and no blood was shed! It showed how low the Tories can sink in order to make political capital, and it was not a pretty sight.

Perhaps the one thing that has made me smile so far (which is rare in an election campaign) was Nicola Sturgeon’s (allegedly) stellar performance in the televised election debate. But hang on, she’s not an MP, so why was she even there!? She could promise the moon and stars if she wanted, because she can never be held to account. After the debate there were apparently enquiries from some obviously bright sparks about whether they could vote SNP in England. I give up.

I heard a representative of the YouGov polling organisation say this weekend that Labour and the Tories are absolutely neck in neck at this stage of the campaign. Well, maybe, but if the Tories continue making desperate claims which they would clearly be unable to fulfill, their credibility might start to fall away. And if Ed Miliband’s standing keeps improving, as it seems to be, then the (mostly) sensible policies Labour are proposing might help them improve their position. The unknowns are UKIP, who might win 2-3 seats, the LibDems, who will likely have far less seats after the election, and the SNP. Personally I doubt they (the SNP) will get quite as many seats as some are predicting, but they will nevertheless be a factor for whoever forms the next government. And, if they are seen to be affecting policies that are only relevant to England, for example, then surely that is a step in the direction of separate parliaments for each of the home nations? But that remains to be seen. In the meantime the endurance test continues.

Cafeteria Politics

As the election campaign advances, I am seeing more and more instances of what I call ‘Cafeteria Politics’. Before explaining what I mean, I should give some background. In my experience, most people’s political views align with a particular party, be it Labour, LibDem, Conservative, Green, or one of the nationalist parties. And yet, the media, in an effort to involve ‘undecided’ voters (a concept that also defeats me), asks them about ‘issues’. For example I heard someone say, in response to a question, that ‘Education and ‘the Economy’ were of most importance to them. They trusted Labour on Education, but the Conservatives on the Economy. So, asked the interviewer, which way would they vote? Answer: they might not vote at all, because you can’t combine political ideas like you can for food items in a cafeteria (hence my term Cafeteria Politics). So why lead people along in this way? I think it’s misleading nonsense. Instead these ‘undecided’ voters need to read the party manifestos (when they’re published), look on their websites, and do whatever they need to do to reach a decision, which may have to be a compromise. As Aleksandar would say, ‘simples’ ! And stop pretending that cherry picking of issues is an option. Otherwise the inevitable consequence will be even more nonvoters than already seems sadly likely.

Turning to the campaign so far, there are no real surprises. 100+ business leaders write a letter in support of the Tories (shock horror) which is published by that great neutral newspaper The Telegraph (even more shock and horror). UKIP are worried about 16 and 17 year olds voting in an EU election because they are likely to support our continued membership. And the SNP continue to think they may really be in a position of influence after the election. Finally the LibDems touchingly make promises that ignore the possible annihilation of their party representation at Westminster post-election. It’s all good fun, and we still have more than a month of this nonsense to put up with! Happy Days.