Cameron’s Conservative Party Sweeps U.K. Elections

British debates

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Cameron’s Conservative Party Sweeps U.K. Elections
| published May 8, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff writers

Despite predictions that elections in the United Kingdom were going to be a squeaker, and in spite of those eleventh hour polls showing the race too close to call, David Cameron’s Conservative Party swept back into power in widely watched Parliamentary elections Thursday, boosting Cameron’s strength and giving Conservatives more legislative muscle in Britain.

Cameron will be able to form a government quickly and without fanfare, despite those polls from earlier in the week which showed the Conservative Party in a dead heat with the Labour Party. Much of the strength of the avalanche came from Scotland, where high turnout and an energetic surge by Scottish nationalists sent Labour reeling. The Scottish Nationalist Party swept nearly all 59 seats.

The new breakdown, depending on vote counting from a handful areas where results were not official, will look something like this: Out of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, Conservatives will take 331, Labour 232, Scottish National Party 56, Liberal Democrats 8, with the remaining seats going to third parties (these results come by way of the BBC and other media outlets).

Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Ed Milibrand, Labour Party leader, each offered their resignations in the wake of the disappointing results. Cameron met with the Queen—as tradition holds—to inform her that he will be able to quickly form a new government. Had the election been as close as originally predicted, there was the likelihood a long, arduous process wherein leaders of all parties would have to negotiate and compromise to form a government.

Cameron’s victory is only the second time the Conservative Party has won a second term; the first was Margaret Thatcher’s victory in the 1980s. The Conservative party’s sweep was contrasted to the loss of the U.K. Independence Party, led by Nigel Farage. Farage’s party, after polling in third place for weeks, lost primarily because its base of support—enthusiastic and resilient—was spread roughly evenly across the entire country.

Political analysts say that the Conservative Party benefited by its coalition with the centrist Liberal Democrats, but by contrast LDP losses may have represented a powerful backlash by many liberal British voters who disliked their party’s working alignment with the Conservatives and Cameron—an arrangement which dates back to 2010. Clegg’s Liberal Democrats were reduced from 57 MPs to eight in the election.

Jobs and the economy were central issues to the campaign, and in several televised debates the candidates sparred frequently over stewardship of the economy and recovery from the 2008 recession. Polls showed that many voters were skeptical of the promises made during the campaign, and many of those same polls indicated voter ambivalence toward the major parties.

Still, in the end, Cameron and his party drew enough votes to give the Conservative Party its government. The avalanche is the most lopsided since Tony Blair’s huge win May 1997, when the Labour Party won its biggest victory.

Related Thursday Review articles:

The Scotland Vote: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do; Thursday Review staff; Thursday Review (Archives); Sept. 19, 2014.