Election Reaction

[This post is being posted here, on Ruberyvillage, on Election 2005 and god knows where else]

Today is a day to celebrate. We have a third-term Labour government, something which has never been achieved before in the entire history of the party.

It has a comfortable, if severely reduced majority in the House of Commons of around 66 seats. For a third term government in the postwar era, that is a very respectable figure, and more then enough for Labour to work with. In 1979, Thatcher had a majority of only 44.

The Conservatives were not slaughtered, and many Tories will most likely be delighted with their significant gains. But, if you look at the popular vote, an interesting fact emerges. Labour’s went way down, reflecting the droves of voters who deserted the party often over the war in Iraq. However, the Tory share did not increase substantially at all. This clearly shows that while many voters will not support Labour and Tony Blair, the Conservatives have failed to win around support for a Tory future.

Congratulations to the Liberal Democrats, who gained seats as they should. I urge supporters in ‘Labour vs Conservative’ seats to look at what happened though – situations where the Labour vote drifted to the Lib Dems and caused a Tory victory as predicted. Given that they have shown themselves to be a brilliant opposition over the last parliament, but hardly ready for government, it seems sad to see them steal Labour seats rather than Tory ones.

Their ‘decapitation’ strategy also seems to have failed, though personally I always thought it was a bit of a long shot. It did manage to topple Tim Collins though, losing a member of the shadow cabinet, which was a joy to watch after his focus on ‘school discipline’ and nothing else in education during the campaign. He got what he deserved, at least.

Long term, however, there are certainly issues now. The Labour party has always been at its most successful as a compromise between the left and centre of the party. If they swing too far in one direction, their ability to govern effectively is compromised. My hope is that a reduced majority will prompt Blair to tread more carefully on controversial issues, draft better laws, and engaging with parliament as he should. And hopefully those ‘control orders’ will not survive the yearly review.

I have to wonder where this all leaves Gordon Brown. He was looking like a strong leader already in his speech last night, but would he be able to increase Labour’s majority again next time round, or are all government’s destined for a downward spiral? The hope is that the loss in ‘Middle England’ votes could be made up for by having the ‘Not Tony Blair’ people return to the fold.

There are only two really depressing things to come out of this election. The first is the BNP vote, which seemed to reach 10% in some areas. I wonder out loud how much the relentless Conservative push on immigration managed to stir this up, but it would be unfair to blame them for a more deep rooted problem. In short – there is still a small but significant number of very racist people in Britain today.

The other one is George Galloway. Seeing a good Labour MP defeated by a madman is painful, particularly when he seems to have become a cartoon of himself, and no doubt will be a thorn in the side of Blair during the next parliament. There were some decent anti-war independents standing – calm and honest people who never shook hands with Saddam Hussein – and any one of them would be better than Galloway. My commiserations to anyone who will have to work with him now as MP for a place he’s got no connection with apart from a conveniently large proportion of Muslims.

So – that’s election 2005 over and done with now. In my own constituency Lib Dem Sarah Teather held on, which is fair enough, because I get the feeling she really wanted it more “than anyone else in the whole wide world!” Congratulations – now let Labour put their ambitious progressive program into action.

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12 Comments on :
Election Reaction

  1. El Barto says:

    well thank god it’s all over! – simple but bloody true!

  2. Rob says:

    Well, I’m just glad the tories didn’t get through!

  3. Ragnarok_Warrior says:

    My god the Liberal Demos are going crazy ’round my area

  4. Jason McKee says:

    A disappointing result in some ways-but with a recession looming due to unsustainable Labour financial management, this may have been the election to lose for the Conservatives.

    Anyway, I’ll probably be leaving the country-I can’t stand another four years of Labour. Dubai-now there’s a nice, sunny country where they haven’t even heard about income tax.

  5. Red Dalek says:

    Hmmm.. as always, recessions which occur under a Labour government are entirely due to them, while recessions which occur under a Tory one are due to the global economy \ the weather \ acts of god…?

    Oh, and nice to hear from you!

  6. Jason McKee says:

    Nice to hear from you to! I trust your studies are going well. Not spending too long on your website I hope?

    Notice how my original post assumed there would be a recession irrespective of the government in power. Recessions are forces of economic nature so powerful that sometimes even governments can’t stop them. They can however avoid much of the pain. This government is doing everything it can to throw us into the fury of the recession.

    More regulation, increased minimum wages and higher taxation are all factors which contribute to economic slowdown, or in this case possibly recession.

    I predict, irrespective of recession, a tough time for Labour in its third term. The (many) disgruntled Labour MPs will make their feelings known as they take unhesitating advantage of Labour’s reduced majority. The (one and only) opposition will find hit and run tactics very effective in inflicting parliamentary defeats on Labour.

    I’m going to enjoy watching this in a nice warm country, without personally feeling the effects of a government so shortsighted that it has been stealing billions each year from people’s pensions-at the same time as eroding the state pension.

  7. El Barto says:

    Off topic but – nice update to the mail icon on your hoempage Dom

  8. Red Dalek says:

    Why thank you El Barto – I assure you it was only to distract people from Nic’s new site. Btw, I know the cookie isn’t working properly at the moment, but don’t forget your email address for your gravatar!

  9. Rob says:

    Also noticed the change to hommie too.
    So then, any more pages planned or keeping it quiet

  10. .................. says:

    Hi Mr. McKee – or can I call you Jason now you’re out of the country?
    Guess who I am!?

  11. Joe says:

    Sorry, I know this blog was posted well over two years ago but I do feel obliged to put the record straight….

    "It has a comfortable, if severely reduced majority in the House of Commons of around 66 seats. For a third term government in the postwar era, that is a very respectable figure, and more then enough for Labour to work with. In 1979, Thatcher had a majority of only 44."

    All true – but when Thatcher won a third term in 1987, she won it with well over 40% of the vote (compared to Labour’s rather modest 35%) and won it with a majority of over 100 seats, a landslide by any standard.

    1979 was her first victory – not her third.

  12. Red Dalek says:

    I think this is only a case of ambiguous writing (sorry!) – of course what you say is correct, but the comparison was only supposed to be that Thatcher in 1979 was able to ‘get stuff done’ with a majority of 44, hence Labour should be able to work with 66, rather than be made impotent.

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