The pollsters, the pundits and the commentators all got it wrong!
The British election was not a close call.
All the experts predicted the need for a coalition government, that neither the Conservatives nor Labour would get enough seats in parliament to form a government without the help of at least one other party. There were warnings of a “hung parliament” and a “constitutional crisis.” Even the Queen left town, advised that her services would not be needed for a few days, that nobody would be ready to accept her appointment as prime minister.
But the Conservatives easily won.
Consequently, three rival party leaders all resigned within the same hour, an historic first.
While David Cameron is pleased with the result, Nicola Sturgeon is likely more pleased. Her Scottish National Party won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats. Independence for Scotland is back on the table. 56 out of 59 does not mean that the majority of Scots want independence. What it means is that the SNP candidate in each constituency got more votes than anybody else. This will not, however, deter the SNP from taking the opportunity to bolt as soon as it presents itself.
Labour was the big loser, losing big in Scotland, where it previously held most seats. Ed Miliband, Labour leader, said his party faced “a surge of nationalism.”
One newspaper described it as “an electoral tsunami” (Independent). Of note, Mhairi Black defeated a Labour heavyweight and became, at age 20, the youngest Member of Parliament since 1667.
In fact, the single most significant development in the election was Scottish nationalism.
English nationalism was also evident. Although the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) only won one seat in the new parliament, they received 13% of the popular vote. That means that more than one in eight voters wants the UK to leave the European Union. That’s not all – the Conservatives are promising a referendum on the issue. Many of their supporters also want to exit the Union.
Nick Clegg, outgoing leader of the Liberal Democrats, summed up this rising tide of nationalism by saying, “Fear and grievance have won.”
The Stock Market soared at the news that the Conservatives are back in power and, this time, without the need of support from the Liberal Democrats. The Conservative – Lib Dem Coalition of the last five years took a near bankrupt economy, turned it around and made it the fastest growing major western economy. The surge in support for David Cameron’s Conservative Party likely came from voters who didn’t want to risk a return to the economic disaster of the post-2008 crash.