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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:55 am 
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As David Cameron eating a hot dog with a knife and fork made the international news today, it's probably time to turn our attention to next month's U.K. General Election.

Based on current opinion polling pretty much anything could happen, but I'll make a few observations to get us started:

The United Kingdom isn't as united as it used to be: Following the failure of last year's independence referendum, the Scottish National Party seems to be improving steadily in the polls. At the moment they're consistently outpolling Labour north of the Tweed, which makes Labour's path to the magic 326 seats in the Commons all that much harder. Five Thirty Eight is currently predicting that the SNP will go from 6 seats to 43, painting Scotland yellow outside the Labour strongholds of central Edinburgh and Glasgow and the Conservative seats along the border. The Scots don't want to separate from the U.K., but at the same time it looks like they want more control over their own affairs. I also suspect that the SNP is attracting dissatisfied left-wing voters who may be inclined to support Labour if they thought it could win, but would now rather try to claw back power from what they expect to be another Tory administration in Westminster.

You can't ignore UKIP: Nobody expects UKIP to do as well as it did in the recent EU or local government elections (and Nigel Farage has told his supporters as much), but they're still polling at a respectable 15% or so. Not enough to return more than a couple of members, but enough to cause the Conservatives all sorts of grief throughout England in three-way contests. UKIP has a far more respectable face than the BNP ever did, and so it has been able to pull more conservative Tories who don't like the moderate tone of the Cameron Government as well as Eurosceptics generally. Like him or hate him, Nigel Farage is now a force in British politics.

The Lib Dems are toast: Voters have fled from the Lib Dems across the country. Their traditional strongholds in the Celtic Fringe will probably fall to the SNP or Labour, and they're not showing signs of doing well anywhere else. In short, the Coalition hasn't been popular with Lib Dem voters (that may be an understatement).

Don't forget the Greens: Their win in Brighton in 2010 has shown dissatisfied left wing voters that going Green can actually be a viable option, and they're now polling about 5%. The Greens aren't posing the same threat to Labour that UKIP is to the Tories, but they might create some awkward three-cornered contests.

The next government will almost certainly be in a minority: Between protest votes with the Greens and UKIP, the surge of the SNP and the likelihood of a number of minor party victories in Northern Ireland and Wales, getting 326 seats is looking pretty much impossible for either major party. Particularly as the Conservatives, who were closest, are likely to lose seats on the whole. Control of the Treasury Benches will probably take the support of the SNP, if not the Lib Dems also. I'd say that Labour has a better chance of getting the support of those two parties than the Tories, but that's an uneducated guess - Labour and the SNP are, after all, bitter rivals for many Scottish seats and that may discourage them from co-operating.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 5:52 pm 
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SNP had said they will never work with the Conservatives, and Labour has ruled out a coalition with SNP. But SNP can still use their votes to try to deny the Conservatives any power. I think it's going to be a huge mess unless the Conservatives or Labour do way better than expected or unless a really unlikely coalition emerges.

FiveThirtyEight has fantastic coverage of the UK election, by the way. LM already linked to one of their things.

My favorite party name ever is Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party. But don't ask me to pronounce it.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 1:48 am 
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I'm not convinced that a parliamentary system is better then the one we have in the U.S. (or that it isn't), but it is definitely more entertaining!

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 8:30 am 
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Polls will close in about twelve hours. Can you form a government?

I can manage a shaky one with Labour, but I can't find any path to 326 for the Tories.

Also from The Guardian, a guide to the election for non-Brits.


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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 2:29 pm 
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Thanks for posting that guide, L_M. Very helpful to this ignorant Yank.

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 3:03 pm 
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I voted for Labour this morning, in a Tory stronghold. In another universe, I could have been a Conservative, if that party really did stand for fiscal responsibility and had not this present coalition so mercilessly targeted the poor, the disabled and those with mental health issues.

This will be a fascinating, and nerve-wracking, election. :shock:

There could be two equally dubious outcomes: the Tories sharing power with UKIP (noooooooooooo!) or Labour having to share power with the Scottish National Party, which will be ... interesting. To say the least. :suspicious: It is incredibly ironic that as Scotland voted to stay part of the Union last year, the Scottish National Party might well end up calling the shots and having a big say over what happens in England. Wow, and LOL. Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader (who has conducted himself well despite the merciless mocking by the right-wing press) has said emphatically that Labour will not be sharing power with the SNP. Hum, well, we'll just have to see.

Funny stuff about Nicola Sturgeon here, the charismatic and formidable leader of the SNP (The Mash is like The Onion, :D):
http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/politics/ ... 5050798104

And on a serious note, an American view of the proceedings. "This is politics at its edge-of-its-seat best, a total engagement, with almost everything up for grabs."
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/worl ... /26863787/

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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 12:07 pm 
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So... how do you Brits feel about the results?

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 12:05 pm 
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A United Kingdom we are not. ;)

The Tories got England, the SNP swept in and claimed Scotland, Labour got Wales, and the DUP got Northern Ireland.

David Cameron can talk up being 'one nation' as much as he likes, but he will have a rocky second term.

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 1:15 pm 
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But Cameron got an absolute majority this time - is that good or not? From my experience in India it's very difficult to get anything done in coalition governments.


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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 11:02 am 
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I have to admit that, after the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Presidential elections, that we had reached the point where opinion polling and analysis could basically predict any election result pretty closely.

More or less everyone (including me) has egg on their face. No reputable analyst (to my knowledge) predicted this result. It’s basically a repeat of 1992 – everyone significantly underestimated the Conservative vote (see Wikipedia on the Shy Tory Factor).

For those who didn’t see the results, the Conservatives have won 331 seats (up 28) from about 37% of the vote, enough for an absolute majority. Labour won 232 (down 24), the SNP 56, the Lib Dems 8 (down 48). UKIP came third in absolute vote percentage, winning 12.6%, but only won one seat. This will probably raise electoral reform as an issue, and may now give it significant right-wing as well as traditionally left-wing support.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:47 am 
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Interesting the way the right wing press have portrayed the result. The actuality is that both the liberals and Ukip failed miserably, and labour failed in Scotland. In England labour increased its share of the vote.

The success in Scotland for the SNP was due to the fact that grass roots opinion has been motivated and that social media has become a more effective means for the dissemination of information than the largely untrustworthy paper and broadcast media. Consequently the SNP anti austerity message was well received, and the labour parties supine support of the right wing economic doctrine caused their annihilation.

If only the labour party had the courage of the nats.

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