There’s nothing conservative (with a small ‘c’) about it.
Well thank God that’s over. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week and a half, no doubt you’ll be feeling a certain sense of relief that the endless UK General Election coverage is over. Even if you didn’t vote Conservative, which, was in fact, most of the country. David Cameron has a 12-seat majority with 331 seats, but only 37% of the vote, and inevitably, a lot of people are pretty upset with this. Ah, the joys of a first-past-the-post system, which we in fact voted in 2011 to keep. Had this been expected, the shock result of a Tory majority (which even the polls couldn’t predict) might not have sparked off a nation-wide bout of whining about our electoral system, ‘shy Tories’ and a new round of austerity cuts. In fact, both party leaders and the general public have been far than conservative in the aftermath of the result.
Let’s start by having a look at David Cameron. He’s already formed his new cabinet, which has bravely given Boris Johnson a seat, the Mayor of London office now commanding a cabinet position. A sure fire way to liven up cabinet debates no doubt, and get further weight behind many of the new initiatives Cameron is looking to push through parliament. On such enterprise, is the plan to scrap the 1998 Human Rights Act, introduced by Tony Blair. A bold statement of intent to kick off the new term then. What the Cabinet has proposed to replace it is a new British Bill of Rights, but what exactly this might entail is not yet clear. Understandably enough, this has added extra tinder to the fire of Labor supporter indignation, which was already all-consuming. But this is not as scary as it might seem.
The current Human Rights Act stipulates that British Courts can uphold the rulings of the 1950s European Convention of Human Rights, without the need for human rights cases to be taken to the European Central Court. Getting rid of the Act, therefore, would not stop the original rulings from applying in Britain, but British courts could not rule on them. What Cameron is suggesting then, is an extra layer of tape to pass through, as human rights abuses would now have to be taken to Strasbourg. In effect, this would cut formal ties between British Courts and the European Court of Human Rights, a move the Tories are no doubt keen to initiate considering the prevailing climate of Euro-skepticism. And you do wonder if this is a concession to UKIP, as Cameron has hardly justified the move or any potential benefits.
On the topic of UKIP, there is little wonder that their underwhelming performance in the election was accompanied by scandal, an often-encountered phenomenon on the UKIP election trail. Nigel Farage promised before the election that he’d step down in the event that he failed to win the seat of South Thanet, which he did. So Farage stepped down. And then stepped back up again. Before further demands that he stepped down. And now we have a leadership contest. Apparently Disney have been in contact with UKIP’s PR team, seemingly to make Farage the subject of a 39 Steps remake.
What the whole debacle has revealed is the extent to which UKIP, who many assumed to possess a great deal of ideological consistency, is actually characterised by many rifts and divides. Patrick O’Flynn, UKIP’s campaign advisor, feels that Farage’s tactics have been too aggressively right-wing and have alienated more conservative UKIP voters. These tactics have not been blamed on Farage himself, but on his immediate advisors. But there is also a sense that Farage will lose his authority if he continues to stand uncontested. It does seem that if Farage, who has based his mandate for leadership on widespread popularity, fails to face a vote, his credibility will be severely undermined.
And UKIP’s problems have not stopped there. Farage has talked of dissent within the ranks, and many have speculated that he is talking of Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s only MP. Carswell, originally a Tory MP, has already disagreed with Farage over issues such as preventing foreigners with HIV from migrating to the UK and whether to accept £3.25 million in public funding for the Party’s Parliamentary Office. It is alleged that Carswell, like O’Flynn, also wants to tow a more moderate line and has his eyes of Farage’s job.
But UKIP are not the only party with a severe leadership crisis. At least they still have a strong and well-liked candidate in the form of Farage. This is something that Labour and the Lib Dems do not. After shocking defeats for both parties, they face long and arduous nomination processes, without an obvious candidate for either position.
But, arguably the most surprising development encountered in the aftermath of May 7th is the reaction of thousands of voters to the result. Twitter and Facebook have been awash with insulting generalizations as to the moral integrity, or lack thereof, of Tory voters, how much they must hate the poor and have the audacity to even consider voting for David Cameron. The ‘beliggerent and self-righteous’ left, it seems, might be to blame for the polls getting it so wrong. With Tory voters subject to frequent charges of being ‘selfish’ and ‘greedy’ on social media, is it any wonder that some are reserved to express their political sentiment in public.
Much more fair-minded criticism has been directed at the FPTP system, but it’s also worth considering that if we had a proportional representation system, we’d probably have a UKIP-Conservative coalition. Is that really what Labor, SNP and Green voters would have wanted? A more conservative approach to social media outpourings might not go amiss.
Story by Matthew Rusk
This story does not represent the views of Fresh Start UK, purely the view of the author. Tell us your thoughts about the 2015 General Election. How do you think a Conservative Government will effect your finances over the next 4 years?