I feel really depressed by the results of the British General Election.The British General Election of 2015 was billed as a game changer for British politics, it was, but the result didn’t reflect that. As soon as I saw the exit poll figures, I foresaw the end of the union, that few actually want. The numbers:
UK vote share:
Conservatives 36.9% (+0.8%), Labour 30.4% (+1.4%), UKIP 12.6% (+9.5%), Liberal Democrats 7.9% (-15.2%), Green 3.8% (+2.8%), Plaid Cymru 12.1% (+0.8%) (Wales only), SNP 50% (+30%) (Scotland only).
What depresses me is that the two main establishment parties vote was little changed, yet the Conservatives won a victory on the number of seats to give them five years to do whatever they want, which is very very scary. The election was fought on fear of change, that managed decline was more stable than change. By the Conservatives winning with a tiny increase in vote, their victory was more due to the collapse of the LibDems (representing a rejection of the last five years by supporters of a centrist party, uncomfortable with the right wing agenda) and the rise of UKIP than any popular endorsement of the austerity agenda.
The British political establishment has given the UK neo-liberal governments for thirty years, the nation and our economy has become weaker and weaker because of this. Anti-establishment parties, all increased their share of the vote (UKIP, Green, SNP, PC), which to me reflects a growing rejection of neo-liberalism, but due to the antiquated electoral system is not reflected in parliament, with the notable exception of Scotland.
Scotland was the story of the election, The SNP with 50% of the vote, took all but three Scottish constituencies. This is not a reflection of nationalism or a desire to split from the UK as such. I have many friends in Scotland, and being Welsh, understand the issue. The electorate in Scotland were not afraid, to seek a new kind of politics, an alternative to the neo-liberalism that has lowered standards of living, particularly in the North and Western ‘fringe’ of the UK, whose economy hasn’t been allowed to grow due to the power of the the London based financial services industry. Change is what Scotland voted for. The desire for independence isn’t based on nationalism, but simply is seen as the only way of having an alternative political system, to have real economic growth that the English seem afraid of or more accepting of the status quo (well for those in Southern England who generally have suffered less from the UK’s industrial decline.
The victory for the Conservatives and their divisive politics will further increase the divide between Southern England and the rest of us. It is this that will most likely lead to the break up of the UK in the next five years, rather than support for a National party in Scotland. It is simple hard to see anyone sticking up for the benefits of unity as the nation becomes divisive, resentful and argumentative. A strange election for probably the last UK election as we know it.