My Vote: The Day After

Well it’s the day after the 24-hour+ Election results and commentary marathon ran by the major broadcasting channels. I was engrossed. The drama of British elections is so entertaining, not least because of the manic frenzy they generate in the press and for broadcasters who invent increasingly bizarre props and gizmos to express and amplify that mania. 

As polling stations closed on election night, participants and observers including pollsters and politicians, froze into a tableau of stunned disbelief.  The expected results were writ large and emblazoned on the BBC's command post in Central London

Home of the BBC

Contrary to all preceding polls indicating a hung Parliament, a sample exit poll suggested that the Tories were likely to get home first past the post and potentially have a small but workable majority.  

The entire country, at least the people who gave a damn, was hyperventilating. Something momentous and unexpected was being held in the ether.

Apparently as voters across the country headed to polling stations, a small group of academics led by psephology[1] expert John Curtice, met amid high secrecy at a BBC building in central London. Throughout the day the team had been analysing exit poll data from a 20,000-plus sample taken from 140 polling stations. Their conclusions in terms of number of seats for each political Party were projected in lights on Broadcasting House, the headquarters of the BBC.  As the Guardian Newspaper reported it the next day:  After the exit poll, a tsunami raged across the political map.

No one believed the pollsters. We needed to personally see and hear the results as they came in. The electorate was on tenterhooks; the drama had begun. The brutality of politics was about to unfold over the next 12 hours. I settled down with popcorn and ginger beer to enjoy the performance. It was going to be an all night sitting into day.

Among others around the table with that well known but by now slightly doddery anchorman David Dimbleby sat the fragrant Laura Kuenssberg - BBC News.  Her twitter account seemed to be linked to the spin room of every politician in the land. They transmitted delicious little behind the scene titbits to her, which in turn was shared with the viewer. 

Alas, my ability to sustain an all-night-er has long gone. By midnight I had left the land of the living but was back again by 0400 bright eyed and bushy-tailed in the front row of the auditorium; the slaughtering was well underway.

The 6 Parliamentary Party Leaders

There are bound to be losers in general elections but this was a culling. The Tories had set out purposefully to decapitate their former coalition partners, whilst the Scottish Nationalists had anniliated almost all comers, but especially Labour. Their success was spectacular; the prey fell like ninepins. The only leaders of the major parties left standing are David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon: “I'm a child of the Thatcher years”.  

I was looking for major upsets in this election and a dismantling of the status quo.  I got it but not in the way I expected. I am lost for words. The gods have a wicked sense of humour.  They sometimes grant your wish, so be careful what you ask for. 

Something very strange happened during the hours of 0700 and 2200 (polling period) on Thursday 7th of May; and maybe it begun long before then.  By mid afternoon of the next day three party leaders had taken themselves to the guillotine.

On the surface it looks as if we are back to business as usual with a majority Tory Government, to be followed probably in another ten years by Labour – it will take at least ten years for them to get their act together; the parents have passed away and the children are not yet self-sufficient. 

For the last five years Labour has looked like a timid rabbit caught in the headlights. It has been struck dumb, able neither to defend its record nor to articulate how its economic plans would offer an alternative to full blown austerity. The voters were mercilessly punishing. 

It seemed as if the bit of the electorate that always, or could be persuaded to vote Labour, were extracting their pound of flesh for all they had suffered especially economically over the previous five years. The Tory's scaremongering tactics worked too.  Demoralised in defeat, their leader did a runner leaving the Party to its woes.  Sadly, the current line up as potential successors to Ed Miliband looks less than inspiring.

But I do not believe it is business as usual; the Tories are batting on a sticky wicket. It will take some time to get a sense of what exactly went on in the 2015 elections. The analysis will continue until results day in 2020. Apart from all the external factors that played a role in the outcome of this election, it also has much to do with the internal comfort zone of the English, and fear of the unknown 'other'.

Happily this election is not only a record-breaker for the number of WOMEN Parliamentarians (MPs), but also for the number of MPs from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities. The new Member for Havant made election history by becoming the first MP of Chinese origin in the House of Commons. It's notable that existing MPs from minority backgrounds remained untouched by the culling and even increased their majority, some taking over 60% of the vote; new entrants also performed at this level.

For the last 5 years the Opposition in the House of Commons has been either miniscule or inadequate. Now that the Liberal Democrats have been decimated and the brokenness of the Labour Party has been exposed, who will provide robust, incisive, independent-minded and informed Opposition to counter the more rampant Libertarianism and lack of basic compassion inherent in the Tory Party?

I hope this will be forthcoming from the new intake of Scottish National Party and the increased diversity in background of people entering the House since 2010, together with interventions from the relevant institutions of civil society and input from more reflective and intelligent journalism. 

One thing is certain, during the next five years Brits will be Living in Interesting Times: 

 [1] the statistical study of elections and trends in voting


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