UK General Election – Fallout

The coverage of the UK general election has been extensive and you should have been following it closely.  As a brief summary, below is the way it could be used as evidence in Unit 1 and Unit 2 (this is not exhaustive, or I’d be here all day…I may add more as I think of it!):

ELECTIONS (Unit 1)

  • Great evidence for FPTP. Firstly FPTP is strong because it produces strong and stable govts is a common argument. In 2010 the Coalition seemed to mean this wasn’t true but actually they have been strong and stable. Equally, against all odds, the Conservatives secured a majority. This seems to suggest this assessment of FPTP is correct
  • FPTP produces unfair results – very true! UKIP 4m votes, Greens 1m, Lib Dems 2.5m yet all got comaratively few seats. Yet the SNP got only 1.5m votes and 56 seats.
  • The growth of minor/3rd/national parties doing ‘well’ under FPTP could be used as an argument for why it doesn’t need reform.
  • What difference would PR have made? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-32601281
  • Turnout was once again about 2/3rds – meaning 1/3rd of people chose not to exercise their democratic right – think about this in terms of legitimacy and mandate.
  • A small majority does pose problems – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-32671989
  • Party systems – defined as the number of parties with a realistic chance of forming govt – following the Cons getting a majority and Lib Dems being decimated, it would support that the UK remains a two party system. However there has been a notable rise in 3rd/national parties…but it seems unlikely under FPTP that they could claim they have a ‘reasonable chance of forming govt’…

PARTIES (Unit 1)

  • Manifesto guide for party policies 2015 can be found here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/manifesto-guide
  • The importance of keeping your manifesto promises was roundly demonstrated by the crushing defeat the Lib Dems took; a key factor in this was the breaking of the tuition fee promise
  • Factions within parties will be important in a single party govt with a small majority. Major called his 16 rebels ‘the bastards’; Cameron has 66. Equally, the BBC chose to interview the leader of the 1922 Committee on election night and the more right wing Conservatives have not been shy about coming forward in the last few days. Cameron will have to fight to keep his party united with such a small majority
  • Three parties lost their leaders in this election – unheard of! Think about using this as evidence for the responsibilities of party leaders and what these parties stood for.
  • Cameron pledged, in his first speech, to fulfil the whole of the Conservative Party manifesto

DEMOCRACY (Unit 1)

  • Whether the UK is democratic or not cannot be ignored – firstly FPTP returned a vastly different seat percentage to votes cast
  • Secondly the increased use of referendums was at play in this election, with so much being pinned on the promise of an EU referendum
  • The decentralisation of power was also at play with further devolution to the countries in the UK being widely discussed including ‘English votes for English laws’ and further devolution to Scotland. Both of these were raised in the first speech Cameron gave after winning.
  • Growth of importance of the internet – see the blog post regarding the increased voter registration during the election debates.
  • Turnout barely increased from 2010-2015, despite the long-standing prediction of a hung parliament, suggesting some level of voter apathy/disillusionment in the UK.

CONSTITUTION (Unit 2)

  • The acceptance of referendums as a requirement for constitutional change seems to have stuck with UKIP and the Conservatives fighting on a referendum on the EU promise.
  • The constitutional settlement of the UK has been thrown into question, with Scotland (SNP), N. Ireland (DUP), Wales (Labour) and England (Conservative) all voting in different ways. Further devolution to Scotland seems likely, while Cameron promised to address the ‘English question’ in his first speech
  • Given that Cameron has pledged to implement his whole manifesto, this should include reducing number of MPs and redrawing constitutuency boundaries.

PRIME MINISTER (Unit 2)

  • The power of the PM could be illustrated through the leaders debates – both that Cameron shaped exactly what debates he wanted and that they were judged as the leaders of their party
  • Cameron wasted no time in working to reshape his cabinet upon winning, putting Gove in as Justice Secretary and retaining Nicky Morgan at Education
  • Bear in mind, with the loss of his Coalition partners, Cameron has five extra seats HE can now fill in the Cabinet, giving him increased power. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-32683868
  • Conversely, Major was fighting a reasonably united opposition. Cameron has a fractured opposition – two parties with no leaders, and a variety of third parties in Parliament. Provided this opposition stays disunited, he could prove to be very powerful.
  • While not directly the PM, the loss of three party leaders suggests they are seen as figureheads and failure to deliver on election day cost them their jobs.

PARLIAMENT (Unit 2)

  • With the Conservatives holding a single party majority, Cameron should be able to force through what he wants now, which could therefore raise the question of how effective Parliamentary scrutiny will become – we shall have to wait and see
  • Cameron has pledged to reduce the number of MPs
  • Parliament will be incredibly diverse with the new MPs – more women, ethnic minorities etc. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32601280
  • It will be interesting to see at PMQs who gets the 3rd party leaders questions…by right of numbers it should now be the SNP, rather than Lib Dems. But worth remembering that Nicola Sturgeon may be party leader but she is not an MP…so maybe it will be Salmond?
  • A small majority does pose problems – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-32671989

JUDICIARY (Unit 2)

  • Only a minor point here – Michael Gove is appointed a Justice Minister to replace the (rather disliked) Chris Grayling. It will be interesting to see how the defunding of legal aid unfolds under his leadership)
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