A few thoughts on Election 2014
Six days after the polls closed and the dust is settling on a hectic weekend of triumph, heartbreak and wild predictions for 2015.
It was a mixed bag for both Labour and the Conservatives. For both parties, results were good enough to keep hopes alive of a majority in 2015, and bad enough to give their internal mischief-makers ammunition to demand a radical change of direction.
Nigel Farage continues his never-ending media tour, basking in his party’s victory in all corners of mainland UK and predicting UKIP are aiming to hold the balance of power in next year’s general election. It’s a powerful claim, but one that still seems unlikely.
The first past the post electoral system will likely stifle UKIP’s ascendancy, just as it has done for the past 25 years for the Liberal Democrats, and at various points over the past three decades for the Green Party too. Whilst UKIP has the right idea in ‘ruthlessly’ targeting 20 or 30 key seats, even this figure may be too large for a party with very little machinery and limited campaigning experience.
Even if UKIP achieve their much vaunted breakthrough in a small number of constituencies, one or two, or even four or five, UKIP MPs will have almost no impact. The symbolic power of the noble independent or small party politician in Westminster is almost always extinguished as soon as election night is over and people’s interest tails off.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Liberal Democrats had a brutal set of results. In the locals they were wiped out in Manchester, battered in London, and virtually decimated in Rochdale. Across the country, the only out-and-out pro-European party now have just one MEP. Former strongholds look increasingly shaky for next year.
Once again the Lib Dems have proven that in this first experiment of coalition government in modern times, putting ‘national interest ahead of party interest’ is an electorally disastrous move.
One thing is for certain though. 2015 just got a whole lot harder to predict.