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Saturday, 7 May 2011

Reshaping British politics

Alex Salmond's spectacular wins in Scotland, the trouncing of the LibDems and the further retreat of Labour to a rump of areas in the NE and NW are really not good news for Cameron, despite what the papers are saying. On the face of it, the Tories have come through the local elections pretty much unscathed, have maintained a good vote share and were on the winning AV side. You'd forgive them for some complacency this morning. The innate  small-c conservatism of the Brits which on balance favours the status quo has asserted itself; this doesn't actually signal any real support for Conservatism. In fact, the opposite may hold true.

Apart from the handful of 'Yes' areas, which I'll bet coincide with the location of the Guardian's most devoted readers (Oxford, Cambridge, the London Muesli belt), the nation voted against electoral change, but not for a continued political duopoly. Don't expect to see the changes in the 2015 Parliament, but 2020 may signal the end of Red - Blue Britain. The third of voters who vote for parties other than Labour and the Tories will continue to grow; when something over 40% of votes are for brands other than Coke and Pepsi then seats will start to fall like ninepins. 

The future for the Lib Dems looks grim. With only about 60,000 members and no natural large donors, they're hard strapped for cash. The Committee on Standards in Public Life is set in the next few weeks to dismiss the tax-funding of political parties, something the LibDems had set their hopes on. The loss of so many local councillors is a grievous body-blow. The Coalition has exposed the LibDem party membership as being more disunited than either Labour or the Tories - the EU-loving LibDems from the Muesli belt have nothing in common with the EU-loathing LibDems from the South West. Their votes will find their way to the Greens, UKIP and others. For the first time in my lifetime, national politics is not only starting to look interesting but the centre of gravity is dispersing from the metropolitan centre. The smaller parties will now fight for Conservative votes. 


DeeDee99 said...

UKIP are already way ahead of the game in obtaining ex-Conservative votes. With the EU asserting itself more and more, and demanding more funding from what is basically a bankrupt UK, there are likely to be many more converts before the next GE. If UKIP wins the 2014 EU Parliament elections (as Montgomerie says even Tory Ministers apparently concede is very likely)it will be difficult for Cameron to insist that the UK must stay in the EU and deny a Referendum on the issue because he knows we will vote to leave.

This is UKIP's chance to overtake the LibDims as the 3rd force in British politics - offering a clear alternative to the Labour and Conservative Parties which will keep us trapped inside the EU whether we like it or not.

A K Haart said...

Mass opinion is something you may buy if you don’t deviate too far from current social trends.

If it ever became necessary, the EU would buy enough pro-EU opinion in this country to avoid significant change to the grand federal project. The BBC would sway millions without any extra spending at all.

continued.. said...

... in which case the Tories may have wished to support AV after all?

Sean said...

Classic line "London Muesli belt", good job its a Saturday morning and its a full English morning, (black pudding and HP all inc.)I might not have been so impressed, but then again the Peak District is full of Refugee Conservatives that have sold up in Sheffield Hallam, and/or let their property out to students and their tutors...which I guess proves your point.

Peeps are voting according to the election, not to the party, seems to be the sum of it all.

Labour Pains said...

Sean, I wish I was a "Refugee Conservative" from Sheffield Hallam instead of being trapped in "Blindmans Brightside".

"Vote Labour; you know it makes no sense".

Sean said...

LP get saving your pennies, my guess pickles will get tight on the block grant and I doubt their will be a Thatcherite rate cap this time to make the LP look good.

Anonymous said...

But has the postal vote from the Mirpur constituency come in?

Sean said...

DP11, I think they count postal votes two or three times first.

Edward Spalton said...

DeeDee99, with respect, UKIP can get as many MEPs as they like and it will make not a shred of difference. The only place that matters is Westminster.

If you look at recent events in Leicester, you get a better view of UKIP's prospects. The parliamentary candidate there was next to bottom, ahead of the Monster Raving Loony party. The candidate they put up for the post of elected mayor was an 18 year old girl who was too busy with her A Levels to appear on any hustings or to campaign. £500 deposit of members' money straight down the drain. These candidates were, of course, imposed by the Farage clique over the heads of local members.

I wish it were otherwise.