Last night I flitted between the BBC and Channel 4’s coverage of the election results, although only till about midnight.
When I first saw these I didn’t give them much credence, nor did the twitter stream that commented on them. I only saw a couple of very cautious positive comments at that point. Most twitter commenters rubbished the exit polls.
After weeks of not much change in the opinion polls it seemed unlikely that the Conservatives would have suddenly gained momentum and Labour lost it. The SNP prediction also seemed extreme.
I’m writing this on the train platform and there are only 18 seats left to declare. The exit polls look very accurate indeed. From running neck and neck for weeks the Conservatives seemed to have stolen 3 points from Labour to give them a 6 percentile lead. They also look like they might just scrape an overall majority. They’ve got 317 seats right now and need only 6 more to get a working majority, so it’s very likely.
Also there are 56 SNP MPs heading South. Scotland has more pandas than MPs from the Conservatives, Labour or the Liberal Democrats (although combined they outnumber the pandas by 50%).
What does it mean?
Well it means we’re going to get five years of single party government by the Conservatives. We’ll know for sure how much they care and exactly where the policy positions they adopt come from. Big questions are whether the NHS will survive until 2020 and also will the economy recover properly?
There will be stronger calls for electoral reform, both from 56 SNP members in Parliament and also from the over five million that voted Green and UKIP and so far have 2 MPs against the 1.1 million that voted SNP and got 56 MPs.
There is also a lesson that the electorate seem to prefer majority government to a coalition. Although there may be a better explanation for the sudden Conservative surge to a small overall majority. Some of this is probably a failure on the part of the Labour party to campaign effectively.
There really wasn’t enough between the parties, and Ed Miliband didn’t do enough to refute the Conservatives lines blaming Labour for the economy. Given that the depression was caused by a global banking crisis, which economists are clear on, it seems unfair to blame the government of the day for it. Also the Labour party seemed not to capitalise on the aspects of the coalition government performance in the last five years that the public might have seen as unacceptable. e.g. Atos declaring people fit for work who died within days of the assessment; the 2012 Border Force problems caused by cutting budgets too far; or cuts to the social care budget catapulting the NHS into a permanent state of crisis; not to mention the view that George Osborne‘s management of the economy has delayed the recovery.
Anyway. Democracy has happened and we need to live with our new government for the next five years. If you don’t like it feel free to complain if you voted yesterday. Whether you voted or not the next opportunity you get will be in 2020. Start campaigning now…