I find myself using my old football blog to vent on the topic of the election.
As the most bizarre in history, I’ve been thinking about where Labour lost out.
1) They failed to tackle the notion that they were solely responsible for the economic crisis
When the coalition took the reins of the UK in 2010, they found a note left by former Labour treasury secretary Liam Byrne. This now infamous note, which read “I’m afraid there is no money”, has become something of a trinket for David Cameron. It’s been widely reported that he carries it on his person regularly.
Anyone with a vague understanding of economics knows that the situation between 2007 and 2009 was pretty poor. A double-dip recession and uncontrollable inflation levels cannot be purely attributed to overspending by Labour.
The banks had let their borrowing and spending get out of hand as well. Businesses such as Woolworths and Zavvi suffered from a lack of demand for their supply, and a failure to adapt to the growing e-commerce industry. This is without mentioning the tax dodging by big corporations that has been going on for years now.
Miliband always dodged questions relating to Gordon Brown era economics in the debates. He never once admitted his party overspent, and as a result he never shook the Brownite stigma attached to him; he was a key figure in Labour economics at the time of the recession.
2) They failed to convince people that “New Labour” was dead
Speaking of Gordon Brown, Labour made the mistake of assuming everyone had memories shorter than Verne Troyer.
2009 was only six years ago; did they really expect a population of millions to just forgive and forget what had happened with the economy?
I don’t understand why politicians are so obsessed with saving face in the public eye. People will vote for someone who is genuine. Miliband should have admitted the mistakes of the previous Labour government and told us why they were different this time.
The over-borrowing, over-spending Labour of the 00s proved that they could monstrously fuck up an economy like no other. A lot of voters weren’t convinced it wouldn’t happen again.
3) Things would have been different if proportional representation was in place
With the official figures released, you will find that the Conservatives and Labour are separated by 6% of the vote. As it stands, Cameron and co have roughly 100 more seats than Labour. Let’s do some basic maths.
100/650 simplified is 10/65. Simplified again, it’s 2/13. As a percentage, that’s around 15%.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but 6% ≠ 15%.
UKIP can feel aggrieved about this too.
They are the third largest party on % of votes by a significant margin over the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, yet they only have 1 seat to show for 13% of total votes. Their party leader, Nigel Farage, didn’t win South Thanet and has now resigned (I believe this to be purely down to his controversial comments on HIV and women’s rights, among other things, but that’s for another time).
By comparison, the Lib Dems have 8 seats and the Greens have 1. The SNP have a smaller proportion of national votes too: they have 56 seats. Plaid Cymru have 3. DUP have 8. The third largest party has 1 seat.
Whether you like UKIP or not, that’s not fair voting.
4) They appealed to an audience that wasn’t there
Over the course of the campaign, one section of the population really took to Ed Miliband (and Ed Balls): Twitter.
Unfortunately, people who use Twitter and latch on to trends are young people. 18-24 year olds have has the lowest turnouts for every election since 1964. For the last three elections, the turnouts have been 40.4% (2001), 38.2% (2005) and 51.8% (2010). After the Lib Dems drove a huge, tuition fee shaped dagger into the backs of 18-24 year olds in 2011, I can’t see the turnout being high this year either.
Young people, for whatever reason, don’t exercise their right to vote. They’re wrong for not voting, but the fact remains that they don’t. Older people vote in droves, and because they have more money, they’ll vote Conservative. You won’t see a 70 year old joining the #Milifandom.
Similarly, Labour seemed to lean left-wing during their campaign. Who loves socialism? YOUNG PEOPLE. Who doesn’t? OLD PEOPLE.
To stand any chance of winning next election, they have to balance their stance to appeal to everyone.
5) Failure to capitalise on the rise and fall of opposition
No one could predict that Exit Poll. It shook politics as we know it. All signs pointed to a tight finish.
It predicted the Lib Dems would lose over 80% of their seats – a drop to 10. THIS WAS AN OVERPREDICTION. They got 8.
Those seats should have been more heavily targeted. The Conservatives jumped the gun on them.
Then there’s UKIP and the SNP. If there’s anything these two have in common, it’s that they’re both good at taking Labour votes. Did they do enough to stop this happening? No.
Instead, they focussed on the Conservative’s most vulnerable seats. There was one issue, though.
6) The SNP and the fear of “being held to ransom”
Ed could deny it all he wanted to; the only way he was getting into #10 was to get into bed with Nicola Sturgeon.
Judging by the surprise of the Conservative majority, it would be fair to speculate that many in England and Wales didn’t want Westminster held captive by Scotland. As a result, they didn’t vote for Conservative, they voted AGAINST Labour.
Politics is changing in one way. From the people I have spoken to, there seems to be a consensus that a fear of bad things happening is driving them to other parties.
I am a victim of this. I’ve been able to vote at one key election, which was the European Parliament election last year. I voted Lib Dem; despite broken promises at home, I thought they had the best policy moving forward for Europe.
I voted Labour yesterday. While I thought they had some shrewd policies on the NHS and the private housing sector, I still believe that the Lib Dems have the most sound economic plan of any party.
However, I knew that votes for them were going to avalanche, and if it came down to it, they would go into coalition with the Tories again.
I felt like a vote for Lib Dem would, for reasons outside of my control, be a vote for Conservative. That isn’t democracy.
I voted against Tory by voting for Labour.
On the flipside, those in fear of an SNP coalition with Labour would have changed their voting beliefs to vote against Labour, by voting for Conservative.
Would there have been a referendum on independence if Labour-SNP won? We’ll never know. There could still be one, given their new-found authority in The Commons.
This election has been memorable for its surprise, but also for a nationwide loss of hope.
I just finished watching Nick Clegg’s resignation speech. Tears streaming down his face, he spoke passionately and defiantly about his achievements in the coalition. His work deserved more than 8 seats and 8% of the vote. The tuition fees decision has cost them dearly.
He was bawling his eyes out as he walked off stage. We sometimes forget that politicians are human, especially the ones who go into the field to make a real difference. Clegg was one of the few genuine politicians we had.
Instead, David Cameron and the Eton massive are free to do whatever the hell they want to the UK. They don’t care about you. If it doesn’t line the pockets of the wealthy, they aren’t interested.
If David Cameron had won just 8 seats, you wouldn’t see him crying. He’s not human. He doesn’t care like Clegg does.
But what can the average worker, the student, the mentally unable, do to survive the next five years of right-wing, austerity-driven rule? Prepare.
Prepare for a private NHS.
Prepare for the mentally and physically ill to be afterthoughts.
Prepare for a housing crisis.
Prepare for a youth unemployment crisis.
Prepare for unaffordable education.
Prepare for overcrowded schools, while private schools are treated like charities.
Prepare for cuts to public services.
Prepare for welfare cuts, except the ones that go to those who don’t deserve it.
Prepare for an in-out referendum on Europe not happening.
Prepare to see the tax breaks go to millionaires and big corporations.
Prepare for an expansion of sensationalist Murdoch media.
Prepare (and this is a spoiler, not a prediction) for worse rioting than in 2011. (If you’re going to riot, leave housing and small businesses out of your targets)