Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Election Reflection

Tuesday, 19th May 2015 - on a train down to London

I was intrigued last week that the media seemed so mystified by the election result. There has been so much  talk around the fact that the pre-election polls never indicated a Conservative majority. Here are a few observations I would like to make (as if anyone cares, but I will make them anyway):-

1. A lot of people do not make up their minds a) whether to vote at all and b) who to vote for until election day itself. The polls, I would suggest, are thus already non-representative. There are also a whole lot of folk who lurk up hills and down dales who are not represented in the urban-centric polls and who pop up on voting day to throw the analysts predictions.

2. A lot of traditional labour voters would not have been rushing to put their heads above the parapet and admit in public that actually the coalition brought a large measure of stability and growth to a previously knackered economy. Whatever your political ideals, there is no denying the reality of the situation.

I asked, in a conversationally casual way, a number of people who I imagined to be Labour at heart what they were going to vote e.g the chimney sweep, the plumber etc, and they simply stated that work has improved under Cameron and Clegg. I didn't push them but guessed where they might put their cross when push came to shove. 

Indeed, I was particularly angry with the media for the grilling they gave Cameron about what he hadn't achieved; for dramatic effect, they were actively choosing not to focus on what had been achieved over the last five years. When you think about what the Coalition had to build on, you have to concede that it has done a bloody good job of shoring up the collapsing edifice that was Not-So-Great Britain. But we all know that good news doesn't make headlines...

3. Stability, after times of uncertainly, is what people intrinsically want. Voting Labour, in this election, would have been like throwing a six in Snakes & Ladders and finding yourself going back down the longest snake on the board - right back to square one. By definition, Labour has to take a different direction to the Conservatives or there wouldn't be much point in voting for them. Hence the tag, 'Opposition'. Swap Cameron & Clegg for Miliband but continue with the same policies: what on earth would be the point in that? All the more stupid given that the poor beleaguered Ed Miliband has been about as popular as Gordon Brown amongst the Labour hard-core. Had we been talking (in olden times) of Scargill or Livingstone at the top, Labour might had had more support, but Ed Miliband hardly represents the traditional blue collar worker, however much he liked to kid himself: smart house in London, smart suits, clean finger-nails - no, let's face it, career politicians are not really what Labour is all about. Either that or they need to be hugely more canny and charismatic than dear old Ed. (And he probably didn't do himself much good by getting to where he did by stabbing his own brother in the back, truth be told.) His heart might have been in the right place but, in my humble opinion, he was never going to pull it off. I hardly think he represented the 'everyday people' he claimed to be fighting for. I think those 'everyday people' could see that quite clearly too, so thought they may as well vote for that other posh bloke in a blue tie who had at least put food back on their plate.

4. As for Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems, well I can only feel sorry for them. They were the fall guys in a Conservative campaign which was ruthless latterly in its psychology to keep Labour out: an SNP/Labour coalition was what was most feared this side of Glasgow and it was clear that a lot of traditional Lib Dem voters were prepared to vote tactically to stop that happening.

Post election, I have spoken to many who, following the Scottish Referendum, were pleased to see the UK still 'United' but who now think, 'Oh sod it, if that's what you want, then bugger off.' There is something hugely 'not cricket' about the SNP holding such sway in Westminster when we all know that what they really wanted was independence. Why, now, should they have their cake and eat it? Notwithstanding the fact that UKIP votes completely outnumbered them but got just one MP.

So, yes, Cameron ultimately proved more canny than Miliband: the stability and SNP arguments proved to be the two trump cards in an election which was not as unpredictable as the media and political analysts liked to make out.

My faith in the Power of the People has been vindicated. That is what a truly free and democratic society is all about, whatever the outcome. Time now for Labour to take a long hard look at itself and the Lib Dems to brush themselves down and try to believe that they have a middle-ground heartland still. As for UKIP, I'm sure they'll continue to confuse and amuse in equal measure. Which is possibly all Nigel Farage set out to do in the first place - a sort of litmus test for British politics in the early years of the 21st Century.

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