Friday, 8 May 2015

Hollow Victory

So a disappointment for UKIP with just one seat, and a Tory majority against all the odds. But there are a few qualifications.

Most importantly as Tories crow about their victory, is that it was much more a case of the other major parties losing more. The increase in the Tory vote last time I checked was 0.8% while Labour managed an increase of 1.5%. Both of these modest increases happened while the other formerly major party, the Lib Dems dropped an incredible 15.2%. The distribution of these simultaneous crashes is the only thing that handed Cameron thus victory.

UKIP's performance in terms of seats is disappointing but I find solace in the fact that 1 in 10 voters *switched to* the party this time, and more still to other smaller parties. It's an inbuilt iniquity of FPTP voting that this massive support for UKIP didn't translate into seats, but it must also reflect the fact that while they ran a highly effective national campaign they did not rally sufficient voters locally to win any more than a single seat, and that local, direct element is a virtue of FPTP, even if it sometimes rewards inertia more than we would like.

Once the surprise and euphoria of the Tories has worn off the real story is that Cameron has not won over more voters, he has simply got the best deckchairs on the sinking Titanic of the major parties. And he has won with the slimmest of majorities when a resurgence of Scottish nationalism and the EU referendum he never wanted could split his party as deep as Maastricht did.

Final reason to be cheerful - it appears from a quick scan that Labour lost more seats to UKIP than the Conservatives did, meaning they may be forced to start looking at the often deeply Eurosceptic voters in their traditional constituencies, many of whom to their massive credit ignored the media guff about public school, banker, southerner Farage and voted for someone who was standing for their interests.

No cause for celebration but not much cause for despair either. And a massive well done to Nigel Farage and everyone else in UKIP who did so much to bring real democracy back and despite the disappointment achieved so much.