The Conservatives won, the Labour party lost, the Liberal Democrats vanished, and the SNP swept Scotland in the surprise conclusion to the UK election campaign
The British general election came to a climax on Thursday with millions turning out across the nation to vote in what was widely heralded as the most unpredictable election in decades. The Conservative government propped up by the now doomed Liberal Democrats was said in the polls to be almost neck and neck with Labour creating a hung parliament where the SNP might gain power sharing, and UKIP might hold a trump card.
UK Gets Election Shocker
• Conservatives retain power
• Labour’s hopes dashed
• SNP take Scotland
The bookies did a roaring trade as UK gambling laws happily make provision for political betting, with the ever shifting poll numbers indicating a very close race, and a lot of money being wagered on the make up of a coalition government once the dust had settled. The media settled into a rhythm of asking the great and a good who they would do a deal with, and the major politicians constantly stating their faith in being able to win an overall majority.
The internet giants Bet365 offered a full range of books on the election as did many Irish betting companies who know it may well be MPs from their neck of the woods that holds the key to a Conservative government if the race isn’t as close as all the polls say. The DUP once supported a thin minority Conservative government in the UK, it is something they are unlikely to be adverse to doing again given the influence it provides.
However as the polling stations closed and the media settled down for the long wait overnight for the results to start coming in their casually slow ease into the night’s events, which is traditionally a time of talking heads talking off the top of their heads until its someone else’s turn, all done before there are actually any results to talk about, was somewhat shaken up by the exit polls published right after voting had stopped. There was, for want of a better term, some shock and surprise.
Exit Poll Rocks Results Night
Consistently the polls had had the two big parties level pegging, getting around 270 seats each, but this new exit poll put the Conservatives at 316 seats, far closer the the magical majority they’d like to have. This was met with incredulity by some of the pundits. Former minister Paddy Ashdown claimed he would eat his hat if the poll proved accurate (providing the hat were made of marzipan) and Michael Gove, former loathed Education Minister looked as if he suspected it were all a trap.
The accuracy or inaccuracy of this poll then became fodder for the media as they turned on the pollsters, wondering somewhat pointedly who’d listen to them if their polls had all been so wrong, and the pollsters wrung their hands a bit and looked a little shaken, there really shouldn’t have been such a clear leader, especially not one that threw out so many of the projections for possible deals over coalition, and there was more than one gambling news coverage of results would back them not this rogue exit poll.
Luckily for the harried looking pollsters the results began to trickle in from Scotland showing the SNP to be picking up seats from Labour like they were stealing candy from a baby. The lamentable sight of the Labour campaign chief, Douglas Alexander, losing his seat to a 20 year old student, Mhairi Black of the SNP, the youngest elected MP in 350 years, causing a sudden flurry of tweets about Ed Miliband having to resign as leader after such a bad night, a night that had barely even started yet.
But if Ed Miliband’s position was looking tricky, and Labour appeared they were going to get wiped out in Scotland entirely, the Conservative position was looking far less positive for those in the wings who’d been waiting to swoop on David Cameron had the result been less favorable. Those like Boris Johnson with ambitions of leadership now lacking in the ammunition they’d need to unseat the old Etonian from No.10 Downing Street, their aspirations put on hold for the time being.
SNP Sweep Scotland As The Liberal Democrats Disappear
Business Secretary Vince Cable summed up the Liberal Democrat results in his concession speech as “a terrible night for our party” and despite party leader Nick Clegg retaining his seat on what he called a “cruel and punishing night” for the party, his resignation of the leadership now merely a matter of formality. As stronger than predicted Conservative results rolled in the inevitability of Ed Miliband’s political future being far less prominent seemed to increase by the moment.
“A disappointing and difficult night” said Labour leader Ed Miliband on retaining his safe Labour seat of Doncaster North, his hopes of becoming of Prime Minister by then well and truly dashed and his chances of leading the party into the next election all but extinguished, dire whispers of his needing to “consider his position” emanating from senior ranks of the party even before he’d started the journey back to Westminster to face the music.
As the coverage bounced between results, perhaps they were staying mobile betting fewer people would fall asleep whilst the ritual of democracy intoned its way from declaration to declaration through the wee small hours, the picture became ever more clear. The Conservatives, despite so much being stacked against them in the run up to the election, had pulled off a substantial victory, the constitutional questions of coalition formation posed by the media on the back of the inaccurate polls never to arise.
“A positive response to a positive campaign.” Is how David Cameron described it as he won his safe Conservative seat of Witney, making sure to mention accelerated devolution for Scotland in his speech to placate all those SNP voters north of the border. As dawn broke he could bask in predictions of a majority or something very close to it, he had defied the odds, scattering Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Pollsters, the Right-Wing of his own party and anyone after his job, in the process.