Monday, 10 May 2010

Summing up the result

The General Election has been held. I genuinely believed that David Cameron was going to get elected Prime Minister by a majority of 3 or 4. I was surprised that an hung parliament occurred. However, that has been the verdict of the British electorate.

It was a bad night for all three main parties. Obviously, it was bad for Labour because they lost 90 seats, and they obtained the lowest share of the vote since the 1983 General Election debacle under the late Michael Foot. When a party has been in power for a long time, the public tend to get cheesed off without it. This was shown last Thursday.

It was a bad night for the Liberal Democrats. The "Clegg affect" didn't materialise. Neither did talk of them making an electoral breakthroug. Quite the opposite. They lost five seats, taking their seat tally down from 62 to 57.

The Conservatives finished the night with 306 seats. This was their best General Election performance for 18 years, since Thursday 9th April 1992. However, talk of them winning in a landslide, which has surfaced a great deal in the press, didn't occur. They didn't win 326 seats which is needed for an outright majority. For me, in the last days of the campaign, they were acting and talking as if they had won already. Perhaps this turned voters off. It was a bad result for them. They failed to turf out an unpopular government, an unpopular Prime Minister and a party which has been in power for 13 years, and during a severe recession, despite Ashcroft's millions and fervent and vociferous media backing.

A notable result occurred in Brighton, with the election of Caroline Lucas, Britain's first ever Green MP. Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, standing in Barking, obtained 6,620 votes. The winner, Margaret Hodge, obtained over 24,628 votes.

There was a shambles, with huge queues in Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle. Many people were turned away, being unable to vote. After low turnouts in the two previous General Elections, perhaps they were expecting a repeat performance. It wasn't. This General Election had the highest turn-out for 30 years.

The 2010 General Election, also laid an 18-year myth to rest: That a party leader needs the backing of the Sun newspaper to win. During the 1992 General Election, it appeared as if Labour were going to win, according to the opinion polls. They didn't, and the Conservatives were returned by a majority of 21, down from 100 five years earlier.

The newspaper that the deep-thinkers read, The Sun, put out a boastful front page proclaiming "IT WAS THE SUN WOT WON IT!". Blair courted the Sun's backing between 1995 and 1997 by promising he wouldn't place any restrictions on Rupert Murdoch's business empire and wouldn't return to 1970's style policies.

In September last year, the Sun came out in favour of David Cameron and the Conservatives and urged the public to do the same. It then ran some viciously anti-Labour and viciously anti-Gordon Brown stories and headlines. Notably the Jacqui Janes letter. Also vociferously in favour of the Conservatives were the Daily Mail and Express. The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and Times backed them, whereas the Guardian, Observer and Independent all supported the Liberal Democrats. Only the Daily Mirror supported Labour.

Perhaps the age of the Internet was why the public weren't swayed? Perhaps because newspapers sales are in decline was why this occurred? People can join groups on Facebook, join discussions on You Tube and other forums. Perhaps because the circulation of numbers has declined was why the public weren't swayed to vote for a Conservative landslide? Perhaps the Internet, in creating, energizing and formenting debates, was why voter turn out was the highest for 30 years? Perhaps it was relatively high because the public wanted to vote Labour out? Perhaps this was countered by people wanting to give the Labour government a kick up the backside, but alternatively, couldn't trust the Tories for form a Government as well? Perhaps the influence of newspapers was never all that great, and their importance in forming voting opinion has been overestimated?

The Sun and Daily Mail, having told Gordon Brown over the last two years, have been telling Gordon Brown to call an election so the British voters can deliver their verdict on him and his party, and that they would accept the verdict. An election has been called. An hung parliament was their verdict, and now they don't like it.

What will happen now I wonder? Who knows? Maybe Cameron will say to the Liberal Democrats that he will accept some of their policies, in order for him to implement some of his? Maybe Labour will say the same to them? Many people argue that it is a travesty that the party with the least amount of votes and seats out of the three (The Liberal Democrats) decide who forms the next Government, whilst the Conservatives, who obtained the most amount of seats and votes, might be in opposition. Morally it is unfair. However, these are the rules of the electoral system, and will continue to be so, unless something different or better is implemented in its place.

Whoever becomes Prime Minister, be it Brown, Cameron, that chicken who stalked Cameron during the campaign or someone else, will have a difficult job. They are going to have their hands tied, will struggle and will find it difficult to implement any policies, with the country in such a state. We are due to undergo a few bleak years ahead of us.

What do I think about Gordon Brown? The genesis of the recession can be traced back to the Thatcher years, when deregulation became the buzz-word. The bankers have been the main culprits. Gordon Brown has been savagely, and unfairly maligned by the Tory press. I feel he is a honest man with substance, and was generally a successful Chancellor. He was stupid to call Gillian Duffy a bigot though, in Rochdale.

Just as I don't agree with attacks on Cameron for his Eton background, I don't agree with the viciously personal attacks which have been made on Brown and his alleged personality. However, he didn't seem to fit in during the age of "X-factor" politics. Sad how shallow society is, when we judge a potential Prime Minister on appearance and style, but there you go.

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