2015 – Political Tales of the Unexpected
This time last year we were all looking ahead to the 2015 General Election with great uncertainty. The polls depending on how you read them could have pointed to virtually any result you like, something that continued right up until polling day, except of course a Tory overall majority, the one that actually happened. And even more than that, nobody could have predicted in the light of defeat, what the Labour Party would do next.
2015 was the year in politics where all conventional wisdom has been proved wrong and thrown out of the window. The Governing Party had not increased it’s vote share or number of seats since Anthony Eden led the Tories in 1955. This was the same party who has not won an overall majoirty since 1992, to do so in May 2015 was surely too much to ask? And surely the Liberal Democrat incumbency factor would ensure the Lib Dems are not wiped out? And the banking crash had moved the political center to the left hadn’t it? This should help Labour, even on a more left wing platform, get the win? And surely the SNP would not really sweep all before them in Scotland when it came down to it?
Wrong, wrong and wrong again.The key moment just after midnight when a pro Tory swing in Swindon came through was the moment I knew the Tories had won, probably with a majority. By now it was clear the SNP had swept Labour aside in Scotland. This was before key seats like Nuneaton and the Tories most marginal seat against Labour, North Warwickshire had been announce. Although at this point I knew what was coming through my twitter feeds and searches that both of these seats had been won by the Tories, I was also getting first indications that David Laws could lose Yeovil, and if the Lib Dems can lose Yeovil, I knew they were vulnerable almost everywhere. The majority was now probable, and so it proved.
And we end 2015 with another scenario nobody could have foreseen in regards to David Cameron himself. All the predictions this time last year were he could lose the election and if not he would be in a very awkward position by now. Even after the majority on election night, thoughts turned immediately to John Major’s small majority. Backbench troubles and a Labour party renewing itself after defeat would be causing Cameron endless problems by now wouldn’t they?.
And yet, despite some mistakes a decent Labour Party could have exploited (Tax Credits, Splits over Europe) here we are and the truth is Cameron is as safe as houses. Given he has said he will stand down before 2020 I suspect even the EU Referendum will not cause as much trouble as some suggest even if it does not go his way, he is going anyway, maybe it will force him to go a bit earlier, no big deal. He is also facing the most left wing opposition maybe in history. Many will argue they are not really an opposition at all and they would in many ways have a point. Even up until about a week before the leadership election I still believed common sense may prevail and Yvette Cooper may pull the win out of the bag. Instead Labour followed though with it’s collective Twitter led meltdown and elected Jeremy Corbyn. Nobody can be sure where that decision will leave us by the time the whole scenario plays out.
Labour are now with a leader their Parliamentary Party don’t want. They have the hard left joining in numbers and moderates leaving the party. Groups like Momentum have been formed to try and take over the party machine and see moderates out. it is said Corbyn is about to re-shuffle his Shadow Cabinet to move it further to the left to remove dissenters. Corbyn also has the full backing of the Social Media groups who supported him in September. Despite this Labour are doing very badly in local by election, are well behind in the polls and Corbyn has unprecedentedly poor personal ratings along with having given an array of terrible PMQ’s performances. Moderates are clearly unsure what to do. Can they remove Corbyn? Should they, and can they be certain they will not unleash something much worse if they do given Corbyn’s support within the wider movement? If they don’t act soon, by 2020 will it be all too late?
There is lot’s to look forward to in 2016 politically, with lot’s of elections to come along as well. I will look ahead in another post shortly. 2015 has truly been a tale of the political unexpected. And yet as I have written about before, there were many clues there in the polls behind the headline figures, and the increased venom of the social media left in the run up to May also suggested that in terms of their response to defeat, the pointers were also available. Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing, it makes it all look so obvious in retrospect. At the time none of us saw this year coming with constant twists worthy of Roald Dahl.