So, after weeks of everyone assuming the UK would have another five years of Coalition government, the Conservative Party managed to gain enough seats to form a majority government. Whilst polling companies everywhere are probably scratching their heads about how they managed to get their predictions quite so wrong, I feel that what the entire internet needs is yet another article on the election's fall out...right?
(via BBC)This is my favourite thing about the election, as this has been a real area of interest for me for years; to the point that I wrote my dissertation on it. The number of women has risen to 29%, just shy of the magic 30% that some academics claim is the 'tipping point' for real solid recognition of gender issues. Plus, as they are across all the parties (including the youngest MP for generations, 20-year-old Mhairi Black) they haven't been given any patronising moniker (i.e. Blair's Babes or Cameron's Cuties). Yet.
2. The Red Wedding for the Left?
Once it became clear that the Lib Dems had been largely wiped out, and that Labour would most definitely not be a contender for government; the news featured back-to-back resignation speeches from Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. Additionally, numerous political heavy-weights from these two parties have found themselves unemployed. This has in turn been followed by an awful lot of hand-wringing about what these parties should do next.
Criticism levelled at the Labour Party seems to be focused on the fact they have become too left-wing; which considering they were committed to continuing to make 'savings' (read: cuts) and manufactured mugs cheering on immigration controls seems a little rich. Personally, I feel that their issue was one of communication-their policies never really seemed overly clear (even when engraved in stone); they never really successfully countered the 'financially irresponsible' narrative and nor did they attempt to challenge the idea that a Labour/SNP coalition would be an unmitigated disaster. When it comes to the Liberal Democrats, I was surprised by how much they were apparently punished for being part of the Coalition, especially as many of their seats went to the Conservatives. I guess what is clearly key for much of the electorate is trust, the Lib Dems reversed on tuition fees and despite the fact that they probably prevented some of the less centrist legislation passing, it seems that that decision dogged them to the end.
3. Our parliament isn't that representative
Aside from the fact that the majority of MPs are white men, when it comes to the logistics of voting, our government doesn't really represent what voters really wanted. The Lib Dems received more of the popular vote than the SNP, but were reduced to just 8 seats whereas the other party holds more than 50. Similarly, Ukip polled third overall, but hold just one seat. Regardless, of whether you agree with party policies, it is little wonder that many feel alienated from Westminster when their voices are unheard. Despite some vocal demands for electoral reform on social media, this is unlikely to take place under a government for whom the current system works, but it's definitely something to bear in mind for future manifestos.
4. So what happens now?
Five years of Tory slim majority rule, basically. Cameron has had a reshuffle, but most of the key players remain in their former posts. This article neatly summarises the key policies that are likely to happen, especially without the presence of the Lib Dems. The current key issues that are creeping out are plans for the EU referendum, scrapping the Human Rights Act (the appointment of Michael Gove to Justice Secretary all but confirming this) to be replaced by the British Bill of Rights as apparently we have different rights to the rest of Europe and re-legalising fox hunting. Cameron is likely to have issues, not only surrounding Europe, but also on facing Scotland's rather tangled relationship with Westminster and dealing with rebellious backbenchers. And we all get to experience this all over again in 2020.