On May 7th 2015, UK voters went to the polls in the most recent general election. The Conservative Party victory sealed Britain’s path towards Brexit.
Infamously missed by pollsters, who long predicted a hung parliament akin to 2010, the Conservatives emerged with an outright majority (albeit a small 12) and David Cameron returned for his short-lived second term as Prime Minister.
Other significant talking points of this election include:
- The wipeout of the Labour Party in Scotland (-40), with the SNP emerging as the dominant force with 56 out of 59 seats.
- The collapse of the Liberal Democrats, who fell from 57 seats to a mere 8, clearly a strong dissatisfaction of their performance in coalition government.
- The rise of UKIP, who achieved 3.8 million votes (12.7%) but only won a single MP. On the other hand the SNP won a seat for every 25,972 votes exposing the democratic shortcomings of the First-Past-The-Post electoral system.
This election was also categorised by the mammoth TV debate between the leaders of 7 of the UK’s largest parties: Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru. Current Prime Minister Theresa May, who replaced Cameron hardly a year after his victory, has expressed a clear intention to shun this essential democratic and informative exercise (the ITV debate in 2015 was watched by 7 million) in the 2017 snap election in order to avoid exposing herself to potentially damaging scrutiny. However, she has been sure to enlist Cameron’s electoral mastermind Lynton Crosby to try and ensure a Conservative victory again, the ‘Coalition of Chaos’ line this year for example draws much similarity with accusations of a planned coalition between Labour and the SNP in 2015.
Although this appears to be Cameron’s high-point of his time as Prime Minister, he won on the promise of an in-out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. This is a decision which has rocked British politics over the past year, and his support for the losing Remain campaign provoked his resignation on the 24th June 2016. Arguably his legacy will be his pandering to the eurosceptics in his party and the demands of breakaway UKIP, and furthermore his arrogance in not entertaining the prospect of a potential leave victory which left the country in political turmoil. His centrist agenda and liberal attitudes have now been replaced by one of the most right-wing Conservative governments in recent history.
NB over 30 individuals in the Conservative Party, mostly MPs, are currently under investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service for alleged fake spending returns in the 2015 election campaign (perhaps one of the PM’s motives for calling an early election). The party itself has already been fined £70,000 for electoral fraud.