In the results that seemed to defy everyone’s expectations, the Conservative Party has managed to gain not only more seats than its main opponent but also enough to construct a majority government, this time without a Liberal Democrat parrot on its shoulder.
Prior to the start of voting, no solid outcome was expected. We’ve endured so many stories and suggestions about Party X forming a coalition with Party Y and avoiding any deals with Party Z; a new coalition was the most likely consequence of our severely divided electorate. Our newspapers predicted another hung parliament, with the Labour Party and the Conservatives equally popular in the polls and their ability to gain strong support hampered by the favour the public has for smaller parties – UKIP, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats, and, in Scotland, the Scottish Nationalist Party. On some newspaper websites there have been games for viewers to play that involve constructing potential coalitions.
However, to many people’s horror, the exit poll not only suggested that more people would vote for the Conservatives than they would for Labour, but came true. Plenty of journalists and pundits have had to look at what they had previously written and wonder why things turned out so differently.
- The Conservatives took 331 seats, a net gain of twenty-four
- Labour won 232 seats, making a net loss of twenty-six
- the Liberal Democrats were crushed, starting the affair with fifty-seven seats with only eight seats
- in Scotland the Scottish Nationalist Party gained fifty seats, ensuring that almost all of the nation was under its control
- in Ireland the Democratic Unionist Party won and lost a seat, keeping their share at eight
- UKIP lost its seat in Rochester and Strood but kept its seat in Clacton, leaving them with a sole MP in the Commons
- the Green Party made no gains, keeping Caroline Lucas as the only Green MP
- in Wales, Plaid Cymru kept their three seats
Now with the advantage of a majority government, the Conservatives are predicted to push through plenty of their ideas and policies that had been limited or hampered by their former coalition partners. Opinion is sharply divided on whether five further years of the Conservatives in power will allow a better, faster economic recovery and more national reforms or will only worsen the country at a greater pace now that there is coalition partner to soothe the pain.
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