My final general election entry
So, the election is finally over and after staying up until 5:30am on Thursday/Friday, the result didn't surprise me very much. However, some odd things did happen, such as the government successfully defending numbers 1 and 2 on their defence list, whilst losing number 80. All in all, our warped electoral system produced an okay but not great result for all three major parties. Here follows my analysis of each party's performance:
Did well to hold onto so many seats; given how many they had before, to lose less than 50 was a pretty good performance. However, they were helped by the vagaries of the electoral system and their share of the popular vote was not very good at all. There are now also a large number of Labour seats which will only take a tiny swing to fall next time around including Warwick and Leamington, home to James Plaskitt, a new Parliamentary Secretary in Blunkett's DWP. Blair has also, in spite of the faux humility brought about by the loss of a fair number of seats, appointed several controversial people as ministers, including the newly ennobled Lord Adonis at the DfES, arch-crony Lord Drayson at the MoD, and the careless, forgetful, and mendacious Beverly Hughes as Minister for Children (what the nation's children have done to deserve that remains unknown). The re-appointment of Blunkett is also unwise, especially as he has, among other things, been put in charge of the Child Support Agency.
A pretty poor performance really. In spite of the net gain of 33 seats, they should be doing far better after 8 years of an increasingly unpopular government, even under FPTP. They hardly moved on from the share of the popular vote they got in 2001 which is a truly awful performance for a party which has pretentions at being a government in waiting. Michael Howard has also managed to re-open splits in the party by running a divisive, negative campaign and then announcing his resignation for some time in the future and, much as I despise the Tory Party, they need to be united in order to defeat some of the more egregious policies the government seems to be cooking up for the next Parliament. The fact that the Tories are congratulating themselves on winning fewer seats than Michael Foot won in 1983 is an indication of just how far gone they are, and the chances are that the upcoming referendum on the EU constitution may well re-open the splits in the party between the Euro-sceptics and the last remaining enthusiasts in the party.
Probably have the most to celebrate as they were the only main party to see a significant rise in their share of the vote and they had a net gain of 11 seats (although FPTP has shorn them of representation to a greater degree than anyone else). However, a lot of their votes seem to have come from former Labour supporters who may well not vote for them next time around as by then, Gordon Brown will probably be Prime Minister, and there will be a greater threat of a Tory government to scare people into voting Labour. Their result was hardly the breakthrough they're claiming though; they're still a long way behind the other two in terms of votes and seats, although if the seemingly large number of students who voted for them remain loyal, they may in future have a younger support base than the other two parties.