What follows below is a brief description of the UK election results. Most of this is taken from assorted websites and the like. The second piece, soon to follow, will focus much more on the issues impacting the UK and what the election results and Conservative victory portend for the UK.
The UK’s election results were supposed to represent a public unhappy with every party. Polls on the eve of the election had Labor and the Conservatives neck and neck with the LDP a distant third. UKIP, a nationalist party offshoot of the Conservative Party was in fourth. The irrelevant Scottish Nationalist Party in fifth.
Well, the results are in and the biggest result is the polls were wrong. Below is a brief snapshot of what happened to the five major players in the election and a sixth category for the Green Party and regional players. Enjoy.
SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party): On the eve of the election nobody could have predicted the results in Scotland. Scotland, a Labour and LDP stronghold was expected to be tough for both parties. The region’s 59 constituneices were split between 41 for Labour, 11 for the LDP, a mere six for the SNP and 1 Conservative constituency. The SNP, representing Scottish national sentiment was garnering support with a Scotland First message. But nobody could have imagined the carnage.
The first sign of the carnage was the BBC’s exit poll that found SNP gaining an unimaginable 58 seats. All in Scotland. Labour and LDP leaders dismissed the exit poll. But it proved to be eerily accurate. SNP gained a whopping 50 seats, capitalizing on nationalistic sentiment left over from the 2014 Independence Referendum. When the dust settled the SNP had 56 seats in the region while Labour had 1 (-40 seats), LDP 1 (-10) and the Conservatives held their lone constituency. This now means the SNP is a major player in UK politics but other results ensure they are locked out of the halls of power in Parliament.
Labour: Labour was buoyant heading into the election. Despite the weakness of their leader, Ed, Millibrand, the party believed it had wounded the LDP-Conservative government enough to win a hung parliament. Instead, two events occurred to conspire against them.
The first was the destruction of their contingent in the Scotland. The second was their inability to make major gains around London and Southeast England. Labor gained seven seats in the London area bringing their total to 45 but it came from a weakened LDP Party and Conservatives lost only a single seat. These seven seats did little to help Labor buttress their losses in Scotland or the Southeast (-4).
Liberal Democrats Party: If there was one party that had the worst election outcomes of the night it was the LDP party. A center-left party with an American ideological equivalent of a Blue Dog Democrat the party is now as relevant as Blue Dog Democrats. Crushing losses UK wide sent their membership tumbling from 57 to 8.
It was not supposed to be this way. The LDP, founded in 1992, believed it had finally found a way to power with the formation of a Coalition Government with the Conservative plurality 2010. Instead, they sullied their brand. Tied to a Conservative Government the LDP was forced to sign off on a number of unpopular austerity measures including tax cuts for the wealthy and domestic spending cuts. The LDP, a party founded on being fiscally moderate but socially diverse could not keep up pretenses. As a result, they were decimated in Scotland (-10), wiped out around London (-6) and eliminated in Southeast England (-4). Indeed, 8 total constituencies is the fewest the party has held since its creation in 1992. That year the LDP captured 20 constituencies.
Conservatives: The biggest winners of the night by far were the Conservatives. Despite capturing only 37% of the vote they managed to win 51% of all Constituencies and gain enough seats to form a Majority Government, marginalizing the SNP and Labour.
How Conservatives accomplished such a feat when you consider what has arrayed against them. First, polls showed the public split on the election. Second, UKIP was promising to pilfer their most conservative voters. Third, the austerity programs the Conservative Government had instituted were unpopular nationwide. However, the destruction of the LDP in England sent some of their voters the Tories way.
The Conservatives gained a total of 29 seats, almost all coming from England (+21). The party also managed to hold a surprising number of its marginal seats and gain several seats from the severely weakened LDP. But with victory now comes power and the Conservative government will need to decide soon what to do with Scotland (more on this later).
UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party): From a vote standpoint the anti-EU party had a great night. They won over 12% of the popular vote. But due to the Single Member District system the UK bases its elections on the party becomes only a single constituency party. Further, the party’s leader, Nigel Farage, lost his constituency to the Conservative candidate.
With a single seat UKIP remains irrelevant in the halls of Parliament. But it’s 12% showing in the popular vote shows the party has a base of support to build on. Considering most of its support came from 2010 LDP voters swinging their way UKIP must now find a way to court Conservative voters who do not share their anti-EU views.
Other: Other parties scored some successes. The Green Party held its single constituency and scored several second place finishes. Other regional parties held serve or pretty close in Ireland and Wales.
Summary: The UK’s election results must simultaneously thrill the new Conservative government and fill them with dread. The new Conservative Government will now have to tackle solo a nagging recession, ethnic tensions and brewing nationalistic sentiment not just in Scotland but Wales and Ireland as well. In short, David Cameron’s tenure as Prime Minister is about to get a lot rockier than it was under his Coalition Government.