07 May 2010

UK election: Verdict so far

With 34 seats yet to declare, it is mathematically impossible, short of recounts, for the Conservatives Party to get a majority on its own now. However, there are some fairly clear conclusions to be drawn from the election so far:

1. Lots of people turned up late to vote in substantial numbers, and the staff were not sufficient to handle it. Frankly, if you have a 14 hour day to vote, and a postal voting option, I'm not sympathetic.

2. Labour has suffered a significant defeat. However, it does not appear to be on the scale of 1983. 29.2% of the vote is better than Labour might have expected, but with more than 2 voters to 1 against a Labour government, it is astonishing that Gordon Brown thinks it is wise to demand that he have the first call at forming a government. Desperation for power is not pretty. Indeed it may well turn the Liberal Democrats away from any deal.

3. The Conservative Party has made some good wins, has held off the Liberal Democrats, picked up in Wales, but still not done enough to secure power. 36.1% of the overall vote so far is MORE than Labour got in 2005 when it won outright, so David Cameron can claim greater legitimacy to lead a government than Gordon Brown. However, in 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992 the Conservatives did significantly better. What went wrong?

4. The Liberal Democrats are where they generally always are, only this time it's worse. Having lost seats overall, and only picking up 1% more vote than 2005, it is not remotely any kind of breakthrough. Its predecessor Liberal/SDP Alliance won a higher proportion of the vote (but fewer seats) in 1983. Kingmaker Nick Clegg may be, but he has no grand mandate to do so.

5. The number four party by proportion of the vote is UKIP, albeit only 3.1%. The only seat it had a chance of winning, Buckingham, has not declared yet.

6. The Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties have barely changed at all. Scots having the same seats as before, Welsh gaining 1. No breakthrough there.

7. BNP will say that it did well, with 1.9% so far. While Nick Griffin got nowhere close to his goal of second in Barking, the BNP did disturbingly well in plenty of safe Labour seats.

8. Green Party of England and Wales will be thrilled to have 1% of the vote, but more importantly 1 seat. Replacing George Galloway as the voice against capitalism, individual freedom and western civilisation.

The only party that can govern with the Liberal Democrats alone is the Conservative Party.

Labour with the Liberal Democrats would also need the SNP and Plaid Cymru at least, plus the Green MP at least.

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