Comment Politics

Has Labour Lost Its Balls?

General Election 2015 was set to be a coalition extravaganza. For weeks we have had poll after poll tell us that the results were far too close to call, that no party would be able to reach a majority to rule. We, as a nation, would need to accept the fact that coalitions were here to stay. The results couldn’t have been more different.

In some cases the polls have been correct. The SNP have had a fantastic election night. Going from 6 Members of Parliament to 56 MPs. They have conducted a brilliant campaign, tapping into a groundswell of political feeling that no other party was able to successfully capture. What we will see in the coming years is a pressure on the Government to respect the fact that the people of Scotland want to see something different, with all bar 3 constituency seats going to the SNP. Already we have seen this reflected in the comments made by Ed Miliband and David Cameron in their Count speeches. With David Cameron committing to delivering the promised devolution as soon as possible. Boris Johnson has already called for a move towards a Federal system, we can only wait and see what happens.

Conversely, the Liberal Democrats have suffered greatly at the hands of the electorate. They have 8 MPs down from 57 in 2010. Several senior members of the Lib Dems have been edged out, including Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, and Charles Kennedy. Although Nick Clegg managed to hold onto his seat. The expected splurge of seats for UKIP never materialised, with Nigel Farage expected to resign after losing his 7th bid to become a MP. Caroline Lucas retained her seat, with the Greens failing to make any further headway. Similarly, Plaid Cymru gained 3 seats, one less than predicted by the BBC exit poll.

Labour have also been dealt a terrible blow. Several high ranking members have been removed from Parliament. Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy, Margaret Curran have been amongst the highest ranking members of the party that haven’t been re-elected. The biggest casualty of the night has been the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls. Labour have seen their vote in Scotland utterly collapse, with their campaign against the Conservative party across England and Wales not delivering the results that they had hoped for. It can be surmised that they have failed to engage with the electorate in the same way as they did in the Blair years. Has Labour lost its mojo? The coming days, weeks, and years will answer that question as we see a labour opposition do some very deep reflection and decide what direction the party has to go on to regain the trust, and votes, of the electorate.

If the SNP pulled off a cracking campaign in Scotland, then the Oscar for best performance would go to David Cameron and the Conservatives. For the first time in decades the incumbent government has gone into an election and grown the number of seats that it has gained. With at least 327 seats the party can govern with a slight majority. Ironically, the lack of the same majority the Conservatives enjoyed as part of the coalition with the Lib Dems will mean that it will be more of a challenge to get bills through Parliament, especially given the fact that backbench MPs are not as fond of following the party whip as they may have been in years gone by. Although, governing with a majority does give Cameron more ministerial positions to give out to bolster support. The most challenging task for the Prime Minister now is what shape his cabinet will take. It is almost certain that George Osborne will continue on as Chancellor. Though where Boris will fit in, will Theresa May be moved, and who else will fit into the cabinet will be a balancing act that at times will seem harder than the election the Conservatives have just won.

There have been winners and losers all around in this election. We have an entire cohort of new, exciting Members of Parliament who will be making their way to the benches in the Commons and they should be watched with great interest to see what direction and influence they will place on the direction the Government takes, from both sides of the aisle. Though the largest casualties as a result of these highly unexpected results came in the form of the resignations of Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg, and Ed Miliband. UKIP, the Lib Dems, and Labour will now be thrown into leadership election chaos whilst David Cameron puts together his new cabinet.

This article was created in conjunction with the Head of News at Air3Radio.

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