Torries and Scottish Nationalists Rout Opponents in UK General Election

Though Labour and the LibDems have often worked well with the SNP inside Scottish politics, when it came to deciding the fate of the union, Labour and the LibDems joined the right-wing in advocating for preservation of the union, which may have cost them dearly. Now that the United Kingdom is ostensibly preserved, they have been effectively “punished” for their position on Scottish independence. The LibDems also got a shellacking losing 47 seats and holding on to a mere eight, with party leader Nick Clegg resigning his post.


By Taylor Rose l May 12, 2015

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03299/cameron_conservati_3299796b.jpg
Photo: Geoff Pugh

In what was supposed to be a left-wing dominated election, resulting in a hung parliament, turned out to be a complete Conservative Party victory. Almost all the polls leading up to the May 7 general election indicated the Conservatives were going to be racked with trouble, while the Labour Party would form a coalition with the Scottish Nationalists to block any right-wing power grabs in Parliament. The opposite happened, resulting in the first Conservative majority government since 1992.

Prime Minister David Cameron now stands with a clear mandate to enact the Tory vision for the UK, which includes an in-out referendum on UK membership in the European Union.

Triumph of the Tories

Exit polls showed it was going to be neck-and-neck between the Tories and Labour, with UKIP siphoning off a significant number of votes from the Tories and perhaps even holding the balance of power. Instead, the Conservatives turned out an amazing performance, picking up 25 new seats, placing them at 331, with 326 needed for a parliamentary majority.

UKIP’s Dismal Performance

Britain’s leading Eurosceptic party, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has made a name for itself in dominating Britain’s representation in the  EU Parliament. However, it is obvious that on the domestic front, the British, mainly the English, electorate prefers to trust the Eurosceptic promises of the Conservatives over UKIP.

The Tories, who have been taking a harsh beating from UKIP in local council elections and the EU Parliamentary elections, finally were able to rally and at least temporarily halt their rise. UKIP ran candidates in 624 of the 650 constituencies walking away from the night holding on to only one seat, that of Douglas Carswell who resigned from the Conservative Party last year and stood for election again  representing UKIP.

Even UKIP party chairman Nigel Farage had to resign after his failure to take his seat in South Thanet, though he will still be leading the UKIP delegation in the EU Parliament. However, a closer look at UKIP’s seemingly dismal performance indicates the party is hardly done for.

First, UKIP’s electoral success in the EU Parliamentary elections changed the debate in the UK that forced the Tories into a more Eurosceptic position in the general election, in guaranteeing an in-out referendum on EU membership and repatriation of powers from Brussels.

Furthermore, UKIP also enjoyed the third largest share of votes, receiving over three million, yet, only having now one MP. Additionally, UKIP came in second in hundreds of districts, many of them strongly Labour held, which helps prove UKIP’s message is resonating with working class communities. Nonetheless, these wins did not translate into political power. This imbalance of votes to representatives, has led many to criticize the first-past-the-post system, which rewards not proportional representation but rather the candidate with the largest share of the vote.

A good example of this was from James Krikup at The Telegraph, who pointed out “there are 4.2 million voters in Scotland” who are represented by 59 members of Parliament, while UKIP received over 3 million votes, and, yet, only has one MP. Despite UKIP receiving almost three times as many votes as the SNP, the first-past-the-post system denied UKIP from having three times the number of MPs.

Most of UKIP’s increases came in Labour dominated districts, which means in the next election that UKIP could be a major power player in Labour dominated districts. This suggests UKIP is still a serious player and in addition to its strong presence in the EU indicates the Eurosceptic party will be in British politics for sometime.

SNP’s Electoral Revenge

In addition to the Conservatives’ historic retention of power is the history-making moment of the Scottish National Party displacing Labour and having taken most observers by surprise.

The SNP began with only six of Scotland’s 59 constituencies. At night’s end, the SNP had claimed 56 of the 59 Scottish seats. A stunning 50 seat gain shows Scottish nationalism and identitarianism are alive and well despite the success of the “NO” vote on independence in the September 18, 2014 referendum. The SNP’s stunning victory means, although the Scots voted to stay in the Union, they desire greater autonomy, which Cameron promised in a speech shortly after confirming a Conservative majority government to the Queen.

The SNP’s results predict a bleak future for the British left. Scotland has traditionally been a Labour Party and Liberal Democrats stronghold. That is no longer the case. Now that the LibDems are in full retreat and Labour has lost one of its major strongholds (including the seat of former PM Gordon Brown going to an SNP member), Labour must now rely on English working-class communities to retain support, but as was already shown, these communities are beginning to grant more support to UKIP.

Though Labour and the LibDems have often worked well with the SNP inside Scottish politics, when it came to deciding the fate of the union, Labour and the LibDems joined the right-wing in advocating for preservation of the union, which may have cost them dearly. Now that the United Kingdom is ostensibly preserved, they have been effectively “punished” for their position on Scottish independence. The LibDems also got a shellacking losing 47 seats and holding on to a mere eight, with party leader Nick Clegg resigning his post.

The election results in Scotland are also an indicator of the growing ethnic sectarianism of British society. In addition to that of Northern Ireland, with Scotland firmly in the hands of the SNP and England now granting over 14 million votes to the Conservatives and UKIP, who pledge to increase English sovereignty, regardless of the Scottish independence referendum, ethno-identitarian politics is on the rise throughout the United Kingdom, which will most likely eventually manifest itself into more federalism throughout Great Britain.


Taylor Rose is a graduate of Liberty University with a B.A. in International Relations from the Helms School of Government. Fluent in English and German he has worked and studied throughout Europe specializing in American and European politics.  He is a prolific writer and author of the book Return of the Right an analysis on the revival of Conservatism in the United States and Europe. He is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.