Friday, 8 May 2015

Conservative Majority

For the first time since John Major, the Conservative Party has won a majority in the House of Commons. A narrow one, to be sure - 328 seats at the time of writing, with 2 seats left to declare - but a majority nevertheless.

What happened to Labour's promised swing? And UKIP's promised breakthrough?

I'll tell you. Scotland and England happened.

In Scotland, the SNP have engaged in a bout of giant-killing, virtually sweeping the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Labour off the map. 56 of the 59 Scottish seats now rest in the hands of Salmond and Sturgeon. On the back of the referendum, the SNP have gone from strength to strength.

In England, the political narrative from Scotland has dominated. And England has watched, quietly and patiently, as a borderline-xenophobic nationalist movement has reared its ugly head north of the border. It has looked at Labour and UKIP. It has looked at the SNP, and it decided it didn't really fancy the idea of being laid down the law by people it hadn't elected.

UKIP failed to break through. Labour failed to make an impression. They held in North England, but lost the key Midlands marginals, and came nowhere near to extending their grip further south. The Liberal Democrats collapsed, and the Tories mopped up.

So what happens now?

The United Kingdom is about to be transformed. The Tories will likely press through:
  • Huge constitutional reform in English Votes for English Laws. In the event of Labour winning an election in the future, they would probably be unable to pass laws in England;
  • A constituency boundary review for the House of Commons. This would remove the inbuilt ~7% lead that Labour have because of electoral bias;
  • Intense negotiations and a referendum on the UK's continued membership of the European Union. A change in membership terms or leaving entirely would be huge;
  • A huge reduction in the size and role of the State. Although the Coalition made savings, the deficit is still huge. It can't be closed without a fundamental reappraisal of what the State does;
  • The need for a new constitutional settlement between England and Scotland has never been clearer. It is likely that we will progress to some form of federalism;
  • A fundamental change in the tax & benefits system. For too long, it has rewarded the idle and imprisoned hard-working people in poverty. The Tories have a huge mandate for change;
  • Further shake-ups to the education and health systems, both of which currently under-perform. They'll still be here in 2020, but they'll work totally differently;
  • Significantly lower taxes, especially for low to middle earners. They've put the Tories in Downing Street, and they'll likely be rewarded for it.

The country we become over the next five years will likely not be the same as the country we are now. And given that the country that we have now is crippled by debt, parochialism, high taxation and bitter nationalism, I'm looking forward to a change.

Tory Government? Thank God.