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After this election was dubbed ‘the vote of a lifetime’, it has turned out to be more than disappointing. British politics, at least for the past hundred or so years, as seen a swing from red to blue and back again. Henry Asquith’s government was the last fully Liberal ministry. It seemed like this might have been changed last night. All the polls in the weeks leading up to the election suggested that the bigger parties might struggle, that for the first time in British voting history, smaller parties might actually have a voice as the bigger parties sought to form coalitions. The result was far from it.
This is why the voting system to needs to change, but I don’t hold my breath for it actually happening. Why would the Conservatives, having secured a majority, want to rock the boat that put them there? Why would they change to proportional representation, or some other representative form of voting, when first past the post suits them down to the ground? I have no gripes with the fact that the Conservatives are the biggest party, the most people voted for them (36.9%). What I do have a problem with is how those votes were divided up.
As much as I detest the UK Independence Party and would hate to see them in any form of government, they have a point when they complain that even though they were the third most voted for party last night, enjoying 12.6% of the total votes cast, they lost out due to the voting system. It seems odd to me that UKIP can get 3,881,129 votes and have one seat, whilst the Liberal Democrats can get 2,415,888 votes and have eight. Something doesn’t add up here. Similarly the Green Party have been kicked in the teeth, enjoying 1,157,613 votes and only one seat, whilst the Scottish National Party can get 1,454,436 votes and have 56!
Outside the issues to do with the number of votes, the night was one of shock results. The Liberal Democrats have been slaughtered by the Conservatives – leading to Nick Clegg’s resignation this morning – the exit polls last night predicted they might hold onto ten seats, in the end it was just a measly eight, with Danny Alexander and Vince Cable both losing their seats. Nick Clegg isn’t the only leader set to resign today, Ed Miliband stepped down around midday after his party was trounced by the Scottish Nationals. It was always predicted that the SNP would do well north of the border, but for them to do that well is quite amazing. As one politician said earlier today, Scotland is clearly trying to tell us something, and it’s about time we started to listen. Alongside the Liberal and Labour leaders, Nigel Farage has also resigned as party leader of UKIP after failing to secure the seat of South Thanet. He described his loss as a “weight off his shoulders.” So that’s three party leaderships up for grabs now, who takes their places is anyone’s guess.
Other notable losses included shadow chancellor Ed Balls in West Yorkshire, losing by a margin after a frantic recount; Douglas Alexander, a Labour stalwart also lost out. For the Liberals it was Simon Hughes and Charles Kennedy who lost their seats. Although to be fair if I was to list all of the Liberals who lost their seats at Westminster I would be here for a while. It just seems to have been a Tory night all round. One good thing to come out of this is that one in three MPs is now female, a record high and an increase since 2010, which suggests that at least in that department we are moving in the right direction.