What went wrong for Labour?
According to polls, Labour and the Conservatives were closely tied, in the weeks leading up to the election. An overall Tory government was something not even David Cameron dared to seriously predict. After predictions of the reds and blues gaining roughly an equal amount of seats, how then have Tory’s won a majority of 332, and Labour, chewed up and spat out by the result, a mere 231 seats?
‘Ed Milliband is just not a leader’ was a claim continuously thrown about in the weeks and days leading up to May 7th. Clearly, such damning criticism from vast swathes of the electorate played a role in the election result. However, to accept a complete inadequacy of Milliband as the reason for the Labour loss, is an argument far too simplistic and with very little grounds of evidence to hold any weight in the argument. In truth, a persistent stream of Tory invective against the Labour leader, led many to consume blindly that because of a few awkward PR blunders, famously the eating of a bacon sandwich, as a viable influence over one’s vote. The constant mockery, and at times bullying of Milliband, by the Tories, substantiated by their Tabloid editor friends, made the claims that Milliband was incapable of the role of Prime Minister, almost ring true. Too much emphasis on personalities, not policies, based largely on a few TV appearances and critical analysis of these by Tabloid lies, has played a large role on what now will play a very large impact on everyday lives, in the 5 years to come.
A ‘strong’ Tory Campaign
Austerity is a hard sell as key belief in a manifesto, and really, kudos to David Cameron for pulling it off. Last term, heavy cuts were made to public services, as part of the Tories’ ‘long term economic plan’. Cuts inevitably affected the most vulnerable first: the poor, elderly and disabled. But sacrifices ‘had to be made’, ‘for the good of the economy’. Funny, despite 5 years’ worth of cuts cuts cuts, the national debt has actually doubled. David Cameron, in his usual charismatic manner, seemingly ignorant of the rising national debt, assured us that austerity was working. Working so well, that more cuts will have to be made. £12.8 billion worth of cuts to the welfare system. Like before, death tolls will inevitably rise as the most vulnerable are squeezed even more, virtually to extinction. Collateral damage. The message of how all this was essential, was drummed in so steadily, assumingly, convincingly, that anyone who dared question it’s use was laughed out of the arena. The ‘I’m afraid there is no money’ note left by Liam Byne after the 2010 election result, was carried around by Cameron, brandished throughout his campaign, made it all too easy for him to point the finger at Labour as the source of the economic collapse. It also only served to substantiate the argument of austerity as the only means of recovery, all the while mocking Labour for their total and utter inadequacies.
UKIP and The Tories
The explosive rise of UKIP popularity, erupting on May 7th is still ringing in the ears of many, as a fundamental side to the election result. Although winning 3.8 million seats, which is more than the SNP, it may be (thankfully) a story lost due to the undemocratic nature of our first past the post voting system, as those votes only translated into 1 seat in the House of Commons. The core reasons of this influence of UKIP however, cannot be one that is ignored, despite our own personal views on the party. The Tories, under David Cameron was very effective in realising the temperament of the nation, bringing Tory party policies further right to accommodate growing nationalistic ideas. That is why, under the new Tory government, immigration laws will be tightened, the Human Rights Act will be repealed, (for a British Bill of Rights), and the fox hunting ban will be abolished. Cameron might as well have copied and pasted these policies straight from the UKIP manifesto. A vote for the Tories, was essentially, a vote for UKIP, or at least their ideals. Sadly, Labour’s conviction was just too strong for the world of politics. Unwilling to adopt UKIP policies as their own, has unfortunately cost Labour heavily.
This election has been reported as the biggest tactical vote ever. Scare mongering from the right about the apparently terrifying prospect of a Labour/SNP coalition government led many arriving at the Polling Station with a Conservative vote thought to be the only way to avoid this. Again, undignified and unsubstantiated digs at the left from the Tories, have depressingly, tangibly swung the vote, leading to this shock result. So tangible, in fact were such primal slanders caused on the result, that I I’ll get the bitter taste of it out y mouth, for another 5 years.
Not left enough? Or not Central enough?
The once unassuming SNP have risen beyond belief, a real pivotal point of this election, snatching many once-thought safe Labour seats out of their grasp. SNP offered much of what Labour used to stand for, better representation of workers through stronger trade unions. The usual whining that ‘all the political parties are the same’, has completely undermined the large centralised establishment, and led many to turn to more polarised options. In Scotland, Labour’s undoing can be seen simply as a loss of touch with its socialist roots, something that the SNP could provide. However, in England, Labour policies are the opposite; they are too left and not central enough to appeal to the masses. Our nation is more divided than ever, after this election result. SNP rule Scotland. Nationalist parties make up Northern Island. Wales is Labour. There’s a clear split in England; the cities are Labour and the shire’s Tory. What is needed is a party that unites interest in the centre, and sadly Tory were more effective at doing so than Labour.
Clearly, Labour need to seriously rethink their party policies if they have any chance of winning back their influence on the map, after such a crushing result. However, the problem does not just lie in Labour. The problem also lies in the way the British public digest politics. We should not rely on merely Party Election Broadcasts, Question Time and the Sun to judge who is best to run our country. Perhaps the vote would have swung differently, if the British public were more informed about systems that dictate so much of their lives. As I highly doubt a Labour win would spark riots in London, in fact the worst anyone can say would be about Ed Millibad’s big nose.