Having had a rather hectic Thursday during the day and then attending the count, eventually arriving home at 3.20am, then a full day today with other matters, only now am I able to turn my attention to important matters, such as this blog. Unfortunately, as I am in Ellesmere Port for the weekend, this will be the one and only post for today and, probably, until Monday.
As will be realised, the result of the general election was the worst possible - one that I had forseen with a 'hung' parliament, although not 'hung' for the reasons I wished. The 'tribalism' of the voting pattern was the surprise coupled with the poor showing of the other parties, most notably UKIP. It has been my interpretation of the numerous opinion polls that they showed voters were disenchanted with the Lib/Lab/Con, and whilst the opinion polls were proved correct, voters had obviously not the slightest idea of the issues involved and had indeed resorted to the aforesaid 'tribalism', in particular where the Labour vote was concerned.
Richard North, EU Referendum, has picked up on one aspect of the voting and one which as he points out appears to have been unnoticed by the media, or if noticed - ignored. If taking Dudley North as an example the votes UKIP polled in this seat did indeed cost the Conservatives victory in this constituency. Richard estimates that but for votes given to UKIP the Conservatives could well have achieved another 20 seats. He has started a list of what he calls 'The UKIP Effect', here.
Yet whose fault was it that the Conservatives fell short of a majority against a government that was viewed as despised and one that the electorate wanted 'shot of'. The blame must be laid at Cameron's door and in particular the decision he made when reneging on his pledge of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. It is from this time that the Conservative opinion poll ratings, which had been in the 40+ range, began to plummet into the mid to low 30s. It is also possible that having thrown away a good working majority with his desire to 'change' the Conservative Party into one of his own making Cameron could now well face a rebellion amongst his MPs and members. As Simon Heffer says in this article: "It should not have come to this. As I rang round Tory MPs yesterday some were incandescent at the conduct not just of the campaign, but of the whole anti-core vote strategy that has alienated many natural Tory voters. George Osborne, both as campaign co-ordinator and also as an inept shadow chancellor, was quickly selected as the scapegoat. But let us not forget that the roots of this problem go back to 2005. The party has chosen to mimic and validate the policies of its opponents, with the result that the public found little to choose between the main parties. This was exemplified in the television debates, in which the leaders fell over themselves to agree not only with any contention put to them by the public, but even with each other."
Cameeron's decision to occupy the 'centre ground', already full of Labour and LibDems, resulted in the voters having no real choice between the three main parties. An example of this can be found in Cameron's pleading offer to Nick Clegg in order that iDave can get the keys into No10. Witness the following from Cameron's statement: "So I want to make a big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats. I want us to work together in tackling our countries big and urgent problems. The debt crisis, our deep social problems, and our broken political system." Having rubbished Clegg and his policies during the campaign we now see Cameron almost making love to Clegg and saying: 'Nick, I need you oh how I need you'. Witness also: "And there are areas I believe that we in the Conservative party can give ground. Both in the national interest and in the interest of forging an open and trusting partnership." translated, this is Cameronspeak for: 'Nick, I need you, I want you, please please let me live in No10'!
Pointing to similarities in the Conservative and LibDem policy ideas Cameron highlights commonality in a low-carbon economy and equality. We now return to both Cameron and Clegg's lack of honesty in that both those policy areas are constrained by both parties wish to remain in the European Union - apologies for harking back to EU membership, but so much of our country's political 'thinking' is dictated by said membership of the EU.
Our political pundits pick over the ashes of the general election, pontificating about who has lost and lost the most. As Richard North has picked on one aspect, so I would like to pick on another - one that too has not been mentioned by the MSM, nor the political pundits. The biggest loser from the general election is democracy in this country. IanPJ on Politics raises a valid point in this post when he says that the horsetrading between Cameron and Clegg is not what the voters wanted or imagined. So we have the situation where two people will sit down and decide between them the course of action this country is to take for the next few years - and if those who voted for either party, or the rest of us, don't like it, do we get another vote on their 'deal'? See what I mean about 'democratised dictatorship'?
I would also reiterate Heffer's point about poorly-run campaigns and nothing typifies this than that run by UKIP, together with the standard of candidates. In the general election UKIP have had some really good candidates who have worked their proverbial 'socks off', but with no assistance from UKIP Central. This is confirmed by this report which states that the party managed just three per cent of the overall vote, with just over 900,000, albeit an increase on the 600,000 it managed in 2005. Returning to Witney, where I had the unenviable task of acting as Election Agent, although only in an administrative capacity, it does not help when having got an interview for the candidate with John Harris of the Guardian - and warning that the guy seemed a tad cynical and sarcastic - that it might be a good idea if I held his glass of beer, I was in effect 'brushed aside'. - do watch this, about 6min 32secs in. Having been involved previously with Conservative campaigns in Sandhurst for Andrew McKay, leafleting and 'meeting and greeting', I have seen a well-oiled machine at work, but when trying to introduce those methods to the Witney candidate I was informed that, having stood in Barnsley once and Wantage twice, my advice was deemed unnecessary and unwanted.
Reverting once again to the question of 'losers' in the general election, it is the electorate who are the biggest loser as they have been sidelined, lied to and had the wool pulled over their eyes. It is only too apparent that our politicians, whilst professing to understand the working of democracy, have no idea of what should happen, of who is master and who is servant. Whether we end up with a Con-Lib, or Lab-Lib, pact we shall be 'governed' by a centre-left, centrist, state controlling cabal with their hands most definitely on the pursestrings.
The British people are, by nature, quite forgiving and it takes a great deal for them to become riled. Our political leaders should remember that when the British people decide they have had enough, heaven help those standing in their way!