And so the shouting and voting is over. The fat lady has sung. The Conservatives have been rewarded for with an overall majority, whilst their Lib-Dem partners for the last five years have been severely punished. The SNP has conquered Scotland. UKIP got 4 million votes but only one seat. Labour lost Scotland and made little ground in England. Miliband, Clegg and Farage have marched out. Although Farage may march back. Cameron marches on for a final five years.
Here for what it is worth, is my analysis of my 9th General Election (won 3 lost 6)
- That’s democracy !
My last blog was about “using your vote”. Well we used it. You used it. The great people of the United Kingdom used it – and okay, the turnout was less than exceptional, but it was marginally higher than last time.
Many citizens did not register to vote – some of them the “under-classes” who would probably have voted for labour. And why do we deny the vote to 16-18 year olds, who have at least as much common sense and judgement as the rest of us and, by the way, pay tax, which should buy a vote? They should throw the tea overboard. And why cannot we vote online as we can for reality shows, and as many Europeans can in their countries? I was only able to vote because my plane landed on time and I was just able to get to the church on time.
But enough questions about the disenfranchised. We live by democracy. We die by democracy. Yes, we the populace may well be disproportionately influenced by the Murdoch press, self-interest and half-baked understanding of the issues. It’s a poor system, but it is the best system we have. The country ordered Conservatives and that’s what we got. We can hardly complain. Yes, be careful what you ask for – but at least what we asked for, is what we got. That’s not the case in many countries in this broken world.
We did not vote, as some say for (as so-called) stable government or against coalitions or deals. Those were not options on my ballot paper anyway. The fact that we got a party with an overall majority was simple arithmetic.
Not that coalitions are unstable – Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and 30 other European governments seem to operate perfectly well with them – maybe even because of them – without accusations of minor parties “propping up” or “pulling the strings” of the major parties.
- The Conservatives scare tactics worked
It has been said that the Conservatives are addicted to power and will do anything in their power to increase their power. A shocking accusation. Nevertheless – the first recourse of a megalomaniac is to undermine his opponent, to cut his legs from under him and spread fear.
Fear – the Labour Party will wreck the economy. Fear – the Labour Party will be controlled by the evil SNP party who seek only to break up our precious union. Fear and trembling. Dear Ms/Mr Electorate – trust us, play safe, stay with what you know – stay well away from the bogey-men.
Of course, none of it needs to be true. As a kid they told me the house on the hill was haunted. I didn’t believe them of course. But I never went there either.
- The SNP bubble will burst
I haven’t spoken with any Scottish friends – but clearly there was a tide of nationalism, which in one sense one can only admire. Were there a Lancashire Independence Party, standing up for local government against the southern fat-cats, I am pretty sure a large chunk of my family would vote for it. We must not vilify the Scots for supporting Scotland, especially on the back of five years of “more pandas in Scotland than Tories” neglect.
However, the silver lining of a Tory overall majority is that they do not need to work with the SNP. So they will not succeed with their agenda. Over time, when Nicola Sturgeon has to deliver change rather than just talk about it, any failure will generate opposition and discontent at home. The psyche of the political system will demand an opposition. Only one party – Labour – is in position to provide that, and, as a truly national party, be in a far better position to do so than the SNP. The SNP bubble cannot grow any bigger – there are no more seats to win – and even still they have no real influence in Westminster.
Scotland’s voice will NOT be heard – as Nicola Sturgeon is saying even as I type. It would have been heard by a majority labour government with Scottish MPs. So Labour needs to get itself ready to pick up discontented Scots, and bounce back north of the border.
- Cameron’s half-time team talk
Cameron was like the football manager giving a half-time team talk when the score is 0-0. Just as Guardiola did for Bayern Munich against Barcelona on Wednesday. “Go out there and keep on doing what we are doing and we might just nick a goal”. Half-time is not usually a time to change tactics and certainly not managers. And very cleverly – or maybe, despite himself – Cameron’s “I won’t serve past the next term” might just have helped him. He wasn’t going to go “on and on” like a Thatcher of a Blair, into a third term of delusion and dictatorship. This really was half time – the job he had promised to complete was only half done, and this became a virtue not a vice.
So we decided to elect him for one more term – like some sensible second term American president. A safe bet? Maybe. Unfortunately for Guardiola, Barcelona had over ideas and ran riot in the second half. Bayern Munich lost 3-0. The tactics proved to be flawed.
- The shocking imbalance of votes and seats
I am no UKIP supporter. Or let me be more direct. I am a UKIP opponent. Nevertheless a system which rewards 4 million voters with 1 seat, whilst awarding 1.4m voters with 56 seats would appear to be a tad unfair. In this election UKIP, the Lib Dems and the Green Party all lost out dramatically as a result of the voting system. I would feel cheated if I had voted for any of those parties – and would question why it would be worth me voting again next time. Time for a serious look at proportional representation. Unfortunately – the Conservatives won’t want that either.
- Labour didn’t address the economy
Labour never killed the myth that they were was both responsible for the banking crisis and had mismanaged the economy in their last term of office. Neither of these are true – but because they were never properly refuted when the coalition first took power, they became “accepted wisdom” – not helped by the “sorry there is no money” suicide note they left in the treasury. And when – on Question Time – Miliband finally denied that Labour had overspent – it appeared incredible and totally backfired.
And then, in the last 5 years, as the Tories persisted with their austerity policies, cutting services and reducing benefits, Labour seemed unable to make the case for a balanced approach of cuts and investment. For those of us who work in industry, we know that simply slashing budgets is both easy and doomed to kill your business. It takes courage and judgement to invest your way out of recession. The Conservatives seem to have neither. So they labelled spending as reckless. Labour never counted this argument in a way which the public could understand.
Note how contrived the words are – the subtle choice of the word “spending” rather than “investment”. The message was that Labour over-spent and spending must be cut. There might have been a different reaction if the Conservatives had said that Labour over-invested and investment must be reduced.
- The poor are the big losers
The most depressing part of the whole show is that the people who really lose out are the poor. For me personally, and frankly for most of us, whether the government is Labour or Conservative is not going to change our lives. The big winners or loser in this election were always going to be the less privileged.
Racism and sexism have – in my lifetime – been rightly been made totally unacceptable (if not eradicated). And yet, it still seems acceptable to stigmatise the poor and under-privileged as lazy, scroungers and parasites. We have the under-classes of “benefit-cheats” or “migrants”. What makes me so angry is that the vast majority of these human beings are absolutely NOT there by their own choosing, have NO easy way of “escape”, would love to have a home and/or a job. They have just not been handed the privilege of the accident of birth which the rest of us have. Most do not have money, education, good health and decent parental or other support. A lot of them are children.
The labour party should have majored on this – rather than the worn out “hard working families” mantra – a phrase which excludes many of the very people that the social-justice system and movement was designed to help and protect.