26 May 2015

Analysis of a surprise victory - General Election 2015 analysis

I have to admit I was very surprised when the exit poll put the Tories just shy of a majority... and rather unhappy when they actually won one.

Looking back at it, however, their victory was pretty obvious. Thus follows a quick rundown of what I feel are the key factors in their victory.

This poll comes in very handy for looking in more depth.

Why the Conservatives won
  1. The economy: Unemployment is falling, wages are catching up with prices. Many people are expecting the economic recovery, slow as it is, to reach them. When I have to answer the question "Am I better off than I am five years ago?" with a "yes", it's clear that the circumstances for a change of government aren't reached.
  2. Avoidance of major scandals: "Plebgate" was relatively small fry, phone-hacking certainly didn't impact the PM directly and the expenses issue was dealt with in the last Parliament.
  3. Solid media support. Nearly all of the papers supported the Conservatives and constantly ran stories against Labour; I've seen one study that it was even more negative than 1992.
  4. The over-55 vote. The Tories still have very strong support (almost 50% in fact) among this age group. Bigger concern for the future is what happens when the post-war baby boomers pass away.
  5. The SNP. Despite not standing in any non-Scottish seat, fear of having the SNP control a Labour government influenced many floating voters to back the Tories.
  6. David Cameron has been a competent Prime Minister and only made one major gaffe in the whole campaign on food banks.

Why Labour lost
  1. The economy: Labour never held a lead on this matter and wasn't trusted by the electorate (fairly or not) after the recession on the matter. The next leader will need to address this in a big way without isolating the core vote in the process.
  2. The Green Party: Took away a good deal of the left-wing vote - enough in some of the key marginals to make the difference between victory and defeat. Something important for campaigning next time is to say "Vote Green, get Tory".
  3. It wasn't left wing enough for Scotland... and its organisation there in the last few years has been abysmal.
  4. It was too left wing for Middle England: the party was not trusted on the EU (we should have backed a referendum) and immigration. There is also a potential white working class issue in the North that needs to be addressed. If you add up "right-wing" versus "left-wing", the former got 50.5% of the UK-wide vote.
  5. Ed Miliband. While he won the 'short campaign', he was never preferred by many to David Cameron, being seen as awkward and un-Prime Ministerial. Mind you, none of the other 2010 leadership contestants would have faired too much better - David Miliband was even more associated with the Blair government for example. The "Ed stone" was a stupid mistake, but one of few in the last stages.

UKIP, the Lib Dems etc.

  1. The electoral system basically limited UKIP to one seat; had we had PR, they'd have probably got more votes. As such some of their support probably voted Tory to keep Labour out. Regardless of referendum result, the EU will be a far smaller issue next time - I think.
  2. The SNP's support surged after the referendum and they were able to hold onto it; in fact increase it. This may be a high-water mark for them; it may not.
  3. The Lib Dems paid a heavy price for not blocking the Tories enough while in government - and the tuition fees move killed them among students. I dread to think what the next lot of council elections will be like for them. The Alliance Party in Northern Ireland may have lost by association, but I can't be sure of that.
  4. Plaid Cymru had an unimpressive campaign and stayed where they were.
  5. Interesting to see the revival of the Ulster Unionists; now back to two seats. Possible resurgence of moderate unionism?
Further thoughts
  1. 37% and a majority of essentially 15 aren't huge wins; the Tories may have a tough time with rebels.
  2. Labour doesn't need to win an overall majority next time; it just needs largest party, something it can do with only a 50 seat gain.
  3. Labour's got a better membership base now and we can work with that.
  4. The economy may crash before 2020 but it may not. We can't rely on it.
  5. We've got to court the Murdoch press, as unpleasant as that will be. 

No comments: