07 May 2015

Labour Loses Big in the UK Elections

They got their clock cleaned in an election that was supposed to be too close to call:
Oh how painfully familiar this is. Any Labour supporter of my generation has been here too often before, hopes raised and dashed on the night. A wash of blue sweeping the board is excruciatingly familiar. But all the same, for every poll to be so dreadfully wrong delivered a profound shock to a stunned Labour party.

A dismal night for Labour – extraordinary to lose more seats than Gordon Brown lost last time. Nuneaton just before 2am felt like the coffin nail that confirmed the exit poll’s accuracy. Forget neck and neck, this was a terrible trouncing.

Why? Under their skin, a lot of old hands felt in their bones that it was remarkable that Labour was level pegging when the Tories had everything in their favour. Never has there been such a mighty blast of nearly all the press denouncing Labour in the crudest ways. Add to that six months of nothing but good economic news, on jobs and on growth, with orchestrated paeans of praise from business. Even if people didn’t feel it in their pockets, they were fed a story of sunlit uplands ahead.

Inside Labour the inquest will be bitter, a battle ahead that risks turning into a grim repeat of old arguments between Blairites and Miliband radicals. Was it the man, or was it his ideas that were defeated?

But it’s far from clear that Cameron will relish his victory. He has won it at a dreadfully high cost. He was forced to concede an EU referendum that risks taking Britain out of the EU. The volcanic eruption of nationalism in Scotland will be turbo-charged by another Conservative government they didn’t elect. Cameron’s wretched place in the history books looks set to be the man who broke the union, and left a diminished little England as his legacy. This may be the last election of a United Kingdom ever, both Labour and Tories sharing some blame.

As I write, it’s not clear Cameron has won a majority. If not, the Fixed Term Parliament Act – passed in haste to be deeply regretted by all – means he can’t threaten an election to bully minor parties into supporting him. But if he has pulled it off, the country can expect an even more radically rightwing government. Austerity of double the ferocity lies ahead, benefits cut to the marrow, public services shredded. The NHS can expect accelerated privatisation while the BBC should prepare itself for savage treatment in next year’s charter renewal. Labour’s failure to stave off this future will lead to great soul-searching and self-blame.
The aforementioned Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 makes the calling of an election because a coalition member has pulled out or a loss of confidence in government vastly more difficult, which should give Cameron plenty of time to privatize Britain's National Health Service.

This is not a good day for the UK, and I think that it gives impetus to both the anti EU factions and the forces of Scottish independence.

It was supposed to be close, but Labour leader Ed Milibrand explicitly ruled out any coalition with the Scottish National Party, which had the effect of  driving almost all of Scotland to go SNP:
After a shock exit poll forecast that the SNP could win 58 out of Scotland’s 59 seats, early count figures suggested the party would win all seven of Glasgow’s Labour-held constituencies, eight months after the city voted yes to independence, also unseating Scottish Labour’s former deputy leader Anas Sarwar.
Interestingly enough, labor actually picked up a bit on the total votes, but they got steamrolled on a by constituency level:

National results (so far, only 520 of the 650 of the seats have been decided) indicate that Labour was eliminated as a political force in Scotland (for a while, at least), and that the Lib-Dems have been absolutely demolished.
Party Seats Gain Loss Net Votes Vote share (%) Swing (points)
Conservative 229 26 6 20 8,286,508 34.3% -0.1
Labour 208 18 46 -28 7,777,190 32.2% 1.2
Scottish National Party 55 49 0 49 1,434,291 5.9% 3.9
Democratic Unionist Party 8 1 1 0 184,260 0.8% 0.0
Liberal Democrat 6 0 38 -38 1,820,063 7.5% -14.7
Sinn Fein 4 0 1 -1 176,232 0.7% -0.0
Plaid Cymru 3 0 0 0 181,704 0.8% 0.0
Social Democratic and Labour Party 3 0 0 0 99,809 0.4% -0.1
Ulster Unionist Party 2 2 0 2 114,935 0.5% N/A
UK Independence Party 1 0 0 0 2,955,216 12.2% 9.3
Others 1 0 3 -3 214,683 0.9% N/A
Green ---- 855,008 3.5% 2.7
Alliance 0 0 1 -1 61,556 0.3% 0.1
I would argue that the poor showing of the Lib Dems is a good thing. They were not a moderating element in coalition with the Tories, and the only principles that they pushed with any vigo(u)r were those were electoral policies which would serve to put them in a position as a junior coalition partner yet again. Good riddance.

UKIP more than tripled their share of the vote, but (thankfully) it appears that they will have somewhere between 0 and 2 MPs.

However, even without their winning many/any seats, their rise is yet another indicator of how right wing nativist parties are gaining traction throughout the EU.


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