As the final ballot papers are counted, it’s clear that the 2015 General Election has panned out like no one had expected or predicted.
For Labour it has been a bloodbath North of the border where SNP has decimated it. They’ve also fallen short in England, missing out on key marginals and castrated by the defeat of Ed Balls.
Ukip failed to live up to tipsters prdictions – in fact they lost an MP in Mark Reckless, the Greens are where they were in 2010 and the Lib Dems have been butchered across the UK – they could end up with less than ten MPs, down from 57.
High profile casualties
Ed Balls wasn’t the only high profile casualty. Every General Election, since Tony Blair’s victory in 1997, the commentators are on the lookout for that Michael Portillo moment. Well, such is the unique nature of this election that there have been several.
Ed Balls was joined by Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy, both who fell on the sharp nationalist sword of Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP.
Then there are the Lib Dems. Vince Cable, former Business Secretary, Danny Alexander, former chief secretary to the treasury and Ed Davey, former secretary of state for energy and climate change all perished.
But while the Conservatives look more and more certain of winning a majority, the aftermath, both immediate and long-term, is shrouded in uncertainty.
First and foremost, the Tory majority is a slender one and they will find it difficult to simply plough through policies over the next parliament.
The fact that we have a Tory majority throws up questions over the UK’s membership of the EU with David Cameron promising a referendum over the EU. An exit could be disastrous for the UK economy, with Europe being a major trading partner for the UK and also offering us strength as part of a superpower at a time when China is growing exponentially.
Where to for Labour from here? Ed Miliband is supposedly preparing his resignation speech. They’ve lost stalwarts like Murphy, Alexander and Balls. They’ve lost Scotland.
Many were likening this to the 1992 election but some have begun to comapre it to Labour’s defeat in 1983. Either way there will need to be some major soul searching within their ranks.
Do they lean to the left to claw back some of the seats lost to the SNP. They’ve probabaly taken all they can of the left leaning Lib Dem vote, if there was much of it judging by the way their seats fell. Do they go the other way and fight the Tories on their own terms?
Whoever leads Labour into the next election will need to play a fine balancing act.
The message from Scotland is clear. They want at best independence at worst a great dollop of devolution. Could this be the end of the union? We may not have another referendum, but the Scots have figured out how to disrupt the Westminster establishment. The question of independence is not dead yet.
Death of the coalition
Yes it maybe that we return to a two-party system with Labour and Conservatives trading majorities, but it is evident from the rise of smaller parties like Ukip and Greens, coupled with the demise of the Lib Dems – this could be unlikely.
But a question that needs to be asked is will any small party join a coalition as a junior party, like the Lib Dems did, following the humiliation the Lib Dems have suffered?
You could argue that they should have fought harder for their own policies but with the way the seats have fallen – Lib Dem seats have been absorbed by a cross section of parties.
Can you blame a small party for running for the hills next time we have a hung parliament? Would anyone in their right minds risk losing 4/5 of their MPs?
My vote didn’t count. Why bother?
Finally we have the question of electoral reform. Once again the number of seats don’t reflect the propotion of votes that have been won by parties. Many voters will once again trudge away from this election disillusioned.
An electoral system designed for two-party politics is simply not fit for purpose in the age of plural politics.
Aiding apathy, it won’t be suprising if turnout falls or remains stagnant, barring any major jarring political events, at the next election.