The 2015 British election was one of particular historical and political significance, and led to the resignation of an unprecedented three party leaders in one day. David Cameron will be able to form a government made up of members of his choosing after ending the previous coalition with the Liberal Democrats, writes Patrick Wintour for The Guardian.
David Cameron: Conservatives unexpectedly win outright majority
The Conservative Party won 331 seats, which is four more than a party needs in order to form a majority government. Labour performed even worse than at the disastrous 2010 election, winning just 232 seats. The results were a complete surprise and went against the predictions of pollsters, who have now launched an inquiry as to why their data was so wrong.
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The British Polling Council stated: “the final opinion polls before the election were clearly not as accurate as we would like, and the fact that all the pollsters underestimated the Conservative lead over Labour suggests that the methods that were used should be subject to careful, independent investigation.”
The Liberal Democrats collapsed from 57 to 8 seats, suffering a backlash after entering into a coalition with the Tories after the 2010 election. Results led to the resignation of party leader Nick Clegg, as well as Labour leader Ed Miliband and UKIP’s Nigel Farage, who failed to win his seat.
Scottish National Party decimates Labour
Labour suffered a massive defeat in Scotland, where the Scottish National Party (SNP) won 56 of 59 seats. Scotland was traditionally a Labour heartland, but Scots deserted the party in droves following a strong campaign from SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who impressed during the leaders debates.
As a result of widespread support for the SNP, Britain’s youngest lawmaker in 350 years was elected. 20-year-old Mhairi Black will enter Parliament at the expense of Labour heavyweigh Danny Alexander, a former Cabinet minister. Had Labour won the general election, Alexander would have become foreign secretary, and defeating him is a huge coup for Black.
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband said that it was “a very difficult and disappointing night,” blaming a “surge of nationalism in Scotland” for the poor performance of his party.
Galloway loses outrageous campaign
One of the more colorful election campaigns took place in Bradford West, where the controversial George Galloway, leader of the Respect Party, slugged it out with Labour candidate Naz Shah. Galloway’s campaign featured a series of personal slurs against Shah, which came back to bite him after Shah won the seat with a majority of 11,420.
Galloway accused Shah of lying about her age, and called on the director of public prosecutions to charge her with perjury relating to evidence that she gave during her mother’s murder trial. Galloway’s personal attacks did not end there, as he tried to turn the largely Muslim electorate against Shah by insinuating that she was pro-Israel.
What now for Britain?
The Conservative majority government will actually leave Prime Minister David Cameron at the mercy of his own backbenchers to a greater extent than during the previous government, when the combined Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition had a larger majority. The worry for Cameron is that he could be held to ransom by the more extreme right-wing elements of his party, who are pushing for Britain to exit the European Union. David Cameron himself has already promised a referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2017.
David Cameron has said that he will do his best to fortify the Union, but the huge level of support for the SNP could lead to renewed calls for Scottish independence. Despite fears of further cuts to social services, which the Conservatives claim are necessary to reduce the UK’s financial deficit, it appears that the electorate preferred to stick with Cameron rather than roll the dice on Miliband.
The Conservative campaign was largely negative, full of warnings about the economic implications of a minority Labour government backed by a left-wing SNP and its possible effects on the fragile recovery of the UK economy. Despite strong showings in opinion polls, it appears that former Labour leader Ed Miliband did not do enough to convince voters of his party’s ability to manage the economy.
PM David Cameron could also follow through on his promise to scrap the Human Rights Act and make a British bill of rights in its place, while the controversial data communications bill, also known as the snooper’s charter, could be brought back onto the table. U.S. President Barack Obama has already written to Cameron, congratulating him on his victory, but Obama will surely be keeping a close eye on developments across the pond, which could have a real impact on the relationship between the two countries.