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Friday, May 08, 2015 12:36 PM

Clean Sweep by UK Conservatives Masks Huge Rifts

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The UK results are in. The pollsters could not have been more wrong. The expected result was a close vote and a hung parliament. Instead, Labour and the Liberal Democrats got pounded. Here are the Final Tallies from the Guardian.

In a surge of nationalism that will likely lead to a call for another independence referendum, the Scotland National Party (SNP) won 56 seats of 59 seats.

Nigel Farage did not win his seat, but he will be around. So will UKIP. It appears UKIP did not take votes from the conservatives, but rather its anti-immigration platform took votes from Labour.

Major Outs

  • Ed Milliband - Labor Leader - Resigned
  • Nick Clegg - Liberal Democrat Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister - Resigned
  • Ed Balls - Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Labour - Not Reelected
  • Jim Murphy - Scottish Labour Leader - Not Reelected
  • Douglas Alexander - Labour Campaign Manager - Not Reelected 
  • Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat Business Secretary - Not Reelected
  • Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat Treasury Chief Secretary - Not Reelected
  • Liberal Democrats - Lost 49 of their 57 Seats

How could the polls have been so wrong?

Clean Sweep Masks Huge Rifts

The Financial Times reports David Cameron Sweeps to Victory in UK Election.
David Cameron, UK prime minister, has swept back into Downing Street after a dramatic election victory, winning an outright majority for his centre-right Conservative party.

Britain faces an unprecedented strain after triumph for leftwing Scottish nationalists who won all but a handful of Scotland’s seats, becoming the third-largest party in Westminster just eight months after losing an independence referendum.

The election result also sets the stage for a bruising fight over Britain’s membership of the 28-member EU. Mr Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on continued EU membership and wants to win back more control over some issues from Brussels.

Meanwhile, Mr Miliband told supporters he was stepping down because the Labour party needed an “open and honest debate about the right way forward”. The centre-left party won 232 seats in a crushing defeat for Mr Miliband, whose campaign to make Britain more equal failed to capture the nation’s imagination.

Mr Clegg, who served as deputy prime minister in the coalition, stepped down as Lib Dem leader after his party suffered devastating losses across the country with the number of seats plunging from 57 to eight.

He said the results were “immeasurably more crushing and unkind than I can ever have feared”.

Nigel Farage, the charismatic leader of the UK Independence party, quit after failing to win the South Thanet seat, despite the anti-EU party becoming the third-biggest in terms of national support. It won just one seat under Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system.

The Scottish National party won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats, up from six in the last election in 2010, sweeping senior Labour figures from office in the party’s traditional heartland and setting the stage for a deeply divided parliament.

“The Scottish lion has roared this morning across the country,” said Alex Salmond, the party’s former leader, who won the seat he was contesting and said it was “inconceivable” for any Westminster government to ignore the united voice of Scotland.

Despite losing the Scottish independence referendum by 55-45 per cent last year, the SNP surge at this election could lead to further demands for a more federal settlement in the UK and add to pressure for a second referendum.
Milliband Resigns

The Guardian reports Ed Miliband Resigns as Labour Leader
A devastated Ed Miliband has resigned as leader of the Labour party, saying he is truly sorry for the scale of the party’s crushing defeat.

In an emotional speech, Miliband said it was time for someone else to take over as leader, but called on the party to keep fighting, rather than give in to despair.

“I take absolute and total responsibility for our defeat. I am so sorry for all of those colleagues who lost their seats,” he said on Friday.

Ending on a defiant note, he said: “This party has come back before and will come back again.”

Miliband’s close staff are said to be deeply upset, struggling with the disappointment made deeper by opinion polls that led them to believe they had blocked Cameron from beating a clear path back to Downing Street. Miliband described the result as very difficult and disappointing, adding that the party in Scotland had been overwhelmed by a surge of nationalism.

Some union leaders will be questioning whether they should break from the party, or at least demand major changes on electoral reform, Europe and immigration. Labour will be concerned over signs that Ukip is establishing a secure foothold in the north of England and Wales.

In many respects Miliband had presented the agenda the unions wanted on issues such as workers’ rights, tax and regulation of markets. But some union leaders will argue that the party’s problems are deep-seated, dating back to the period of New Labour, when it lost touch with its working-class base, reflected in the surge of support for Ukip.

The former Labour cabinet minister John Reid said: “There is no point changing the captain on the bridge if the ship is heading in the wrong direction.” He said elections were not won or lost in a short campaign, but over years, calling for the party to return to issues of wealth creation, as well as wealth distribution.
Goodbye Labour

Any party that campaigns for higher taxes and wealth redistribution deserves to get trounced. And Labour did get trounced. Liberal Democrats all but vanished as UKIP became the third largest party with more votes than SNP. Yet, SNP has 56 seats, Liberal Democrats 8, and UKIP one.

SNP still wants independence. And UKIP still wants out of the EU. The "clean sweep" by the Tories masks those problems. Meanwhile, pollsters have to be wondering "how the hell did we get this so wrong?"

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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