Leading article

Won't somebody please try to win this election?

Labour and the Tories are going to take as much of the vote as they have at any election since the 1980s. And yet they seem resigned to a hung parliament

11 April 2015

9:00 AM

11 April 2015

9:00 AM

The age of two-party politics is over: we know that because everyone keeps saying so. We are entering an era of coalitions, apparently, where compromise is king and a wider variety of views will be represented in parliament. These barely comprehensible seven-way television debates are the future, we are assured, and decisive general election results a thing of the past.

Look deeper and this analysis falls apart. Even now, Labour and the Conservatives between them have about two thirds of the vote, just as they did at the last general election. What we are witnessing is the collapse of the Liberal Democrats, who have been reduced — on a bad day — to being the UK’s sixth most popular party. This is the paradox of the 2015 election: the country seems destined for messy, multi-party coalition negotiations, yet Labour and Conservatives stand to hold, between them, a higher proportion of English seats than at any time since the 1980s. If the election fails to produce a decisive result, it will be because of the revolution taking place in Scotland.

As things stand, the SNP looks set to sweep most Scottish seats and supplant the Liberal Democrats as the third-largest party in Westminster. Nicola Sturgeon’s aim is to put Ed Miliband in power, then torture him. The SNP has no interest in the smooth running of the United Kingdom. It is a party of saboteurs whose stated aim is the partition of Britain. Miliband’s refusal to rule out a deal with the SNP shows that he is willing to accept their meddling as the price for power.

So the outcome of this election may well be parliamentary bedlam. But only because the two-party system will have increased its share in England, while Scotland becomes a one-party country. In that sense, this election is an entirely traditional one, since the only battle which ultimately matters is over who will make it into No. 10.


Yet as we approach the midpoint of the election campaign, neither Ed Miliband nor David Cameron are going after swing votes. They seem more interested in blowing poison darts at each other, hardly deigning to acknowledge the existence of the wider world. Both Labour and the Conservatives are run by men who spent their careers as political advisers before becoming politicians. They have been trying to outwit each other for so long that they seem, at times, to have forgotten there is a whole country out there, and a public desperate for fresh ideas.

David Cameron has so far given a perfunctory defence of conservatism — in contrast to Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader who performed magnificently in the Edinburgh debate this week (video above).

Davidson is a recent convert to the party; she is someone who thought her way into Conservatism rather than being born into it. She displayed huge passion, sincerity and common sense. Why, she asked, does the SNP want Miliband in power? Because they know he will be a disaster for the United Kingdom.

Not once did she mention a ‘long-term economic plan’ or bore the debate audience with clichés about ‘competence or chaos’. She dealt in facts: pensioner poverty is at a record low, employment at a record high. Such things don’t happen by accident: you need to vote for them. As she spoke, her passionate belief shone through that the most important thing for Britain is the election of a majority Conservative government.

It is a shame that this defence of Conservatism was to be viewed only in a country where there is very little chance that more than one Tory will be sent to Westminster. But this is precisely the language the Prime Minister should use when he is attempting to appeal to his lost tribe, especially those who have defected to Ukip.

This week he made a stab at it. He didn’t quite say ‘Come home, fruitcakes, all is forgiven’ — although considering his previous comments about Ukip supporters, that is what he might as well have said. The situation in which Mr Cameron now finds himself has much to do with the contempt he has shown for Eurosceptics and social conservatives in his party.

Even now, Labour and the Tories seem mostly to be taking heart from each -other’s weaknesses. It is as though neither party leader believes an outright victory is possible, so they do not bother to take a gamble with strategies that might deliver one. In current polls, both the Conservatives and Labour are scoring around 33 per cent and Ukip 13 per cent, with the Greens touching 7 per cent. Somewhere in there is a thumping Conservative majority, if only David Cameron could find a way of speaking to the large part of the population whose vote is still up for grabs.

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  • gerontius redux

    “Labour and the Tories are going to take as much of the vote as they have
    at any election since the 1980s. And yet they seem resigned to a hung
    parliament”

    Preferably from a lamppost.

    • JoeCro

      Grand coalition anyone? That will stop those beastly Scottish Nationalists!

      • SNP UPRISING

        It is hilarious to see the pathetic Labour Redcoats prostituting themselves by going out to campaign for the TORY party in Perth and in The Scottish Borders. All in some panicked attempt to stop the SNP LANDSLIDE.

        I’m beginning to love how Scottish Labour hate us.

        • gerontius redux

          You deserve each other

          • SNP UPRISING

            I forgot to mention about the CONSERVATIVE “True Blue” TORIES who are also out campaigning for people to vote for the LIB-DEM Yellow TORIES & LABOUR Redcoat TORIES, again in pathetic, failing attempt to stop the SNP landslide.

            Your party and its members are prostituting themselves….. I hope that you’re proud.

            Thankfully the people of Scotland know who really looks after their interests, the SNP.

          • gerontius redux

            What party do you think I belong to?

          • SNP UPRISING

            Probably UKIP ( BNP TORY )

          • gerontius redux

            None of them, you uncouth lout.

          • SNP UPRISING

            Sorry , I should have recognised that you were a LOONY.

          • gerontius redux

            I’m not UKIP ( BNP TORY ), so therefore I’m a LOONY.
            I don’t follow what passes for you reasoning: I suspect that there isn’t any.

          • SNP UPRISING

            Your “reasoning” started with your comment that The honourable SNP and The LABOUR Redcoats “deserve each other”…….Was this an unreasoned dig at both parties or a general dig at Scotland ?

          • gerontius redux

            You haven’t explained why I’m a LOONY because I’m not UKIP ( BNP TORY ) – whatever that is.

            And why do you shout all the time – Are you permanently drunk?

    • Boy Charioteer

      Gosh, that is a bit drastic. I don’t much care for them or some of their policies, but I doubt that their replacements would be very enthusiastic about their career prospects. Besides, I don’t think that these new-fangled lightweight energy saving structures could sustain the weight of a dangling corpse at all.

    • davidofkent

      Ridiculous as well as nasty.

      • gerontius redux

        I concede the nasty

  • misomiso

    Yes the Tories needed a big idea. The great advantage the Right has at the moment globally is that on Policy they usually have the upper hand. If they can sell one popular policy that the Left can not outflank them on because of their own special interests, then they can do ok. Education Vouchers is one that comes to mind.

    On the Eurosceptics though, Cameron is almost unforgivable. The Notting Hill mob have always wanted to have their cake and eat it. They wanted our votes so they promised a referendum, thinking we would just lie down and take it when they tried to rig it in their favour.

    And that’s what cuts so deep. How can they do this to us? How can they destroy their own people? How can Europe be so important to them that they are willing to destroy their party and expend every ounce of their political will to stay in? How can they defend this evil monstrosity that the EU has become?

    And before you all jump in, its not because Cameron is a Unionist, as if he was a Unionist he would know the only way to save the Union in the long term is to leave.

    If you know why Speccie, please tell us.

    • Robbydot1

      Not almost unforgivable. Unforgivable.

    • Callan

      How can they destroy their own people? Well one way is to continue the traitorous Labour progrom of subsuming us with immigrants. Bad enough having Soubry and Clarke shoving the wonders of uncontrolled immigration down the throats of anyone who cares to listen but even Michael Gove, who seemed most rational over education, was on Question Time last week proclaiming the country is not full and more immigration would be a wonderful thing.
      Clearly the Tories are hell bent on trying to secure the immigrant vote and all of them are now under strict instructions to kow tow to that particular strata of society, (even to the extent of turning a blind eye to the scandalous fraudulent postal vote) notwithstanding the impact on the indigenous population of their perfidy.

  • WFB56

    An excellent analysis, thank you.

    Of particular note was the observation, “Davidson is a recent convert to the party; she is someone who thought her way into Conservatism rather than being born into it.” More of her and less of Cameron and Osborne would produce a Conservative majority and an end to coalitions.

    • Molly NooNar

      Yes, she’s managed to convert how many Scots into Tory voting unionists?

      • Grimsby resident

        This is how low the Conservative party has sunk. Ruth Davidson appears human, speaks like a real person and all of a sudden she is the Conservative party’s saviour! The Conservative Party badly needs a reboot.

        • Hootsman

          Instead of a robot.

      • WFB56

        No one knows the answer to that.

      • Kennybhoy

        I Kennybhoy, being the Coffee House Returning Officer for Scotland, declare the votes cast in the General Election of May 6th, 2010 to be as follows.

        Labour: 1,035,528 votes = 42 seats
        Lib Dem: 465,471 votes = 11 seats
        SNP: 491,386 votes = 6 seats
        Conservative: 412,855 votes = 1 seat

        Under PR the division of seats would have been…

        Labour: 24
        Lib Dem: 11
        SNP: 12
        Conservatives: 10
        UKIP: Maybe 1
        Greens: Maybe 1

        Safe bet that these figures significantly under represent actual and potential Conservative voters who see no point in voting at all or who pick the least worst alternative…

    • Red Priest

      And you see no contradiction at all between noting the relative success and appeal of an openly lesbian (and impressive) Scottish Tory leader, and at the same time decrying the treatment of ‘social conservatives’, by which one means presumably the very ones offended at Call me Dave for allowing the very gay marriage Ms Davison has taken advantage of?

      • WFB56

        Why would anyone care about whether or not she is gay?

        • Red Priest

          Presumably for the same reason they nearly melted down over civil same sex marriage.

  • Molly NooNar

    Voting is about trust and people don’t trust Labour, Lib Dems or Tories and who can blame them? It’s over. I wouldn’t vote for any of them in a month of sunday’s. If you want to change it, attack the voting system which is rotten to the core.

    • greggf

      Well the voting system has become reduced to winning votes, probably due to the many experts who advise party leaders what to say and what not to say rather than make honest pledges to the electorate.
      FPTP has inadvertently discouraged duty to the voter because it is so easy, hitherto, for the big two parties to dominate parliament and effectively ignore the voter. A sort of democratic dictatorship.
      Perhaps the voter has seen through it; although rejecting the AV system they may prefer parties with totally different ideas than the big two can ever muster.
      We shall see.

      • Roger Hudson

        It’s an oligarchy, not any sort of democracy. If only we had the Swiss system, some direct democracy.

    • John M

      That’s the dilemma for the elctorate right there. We all have political beliefs we want to endorse but we can’t stand the sight anymore of the condescending, disconnected wankers who lead the political parties – who’d vote for them?

    • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

      I usually tear my ballot paper into hundred bits and sprinkle it into the ballot box like confetti.

  • JoeCro

    The conservatives have not won an overall majority since 1992. They are unlikely to get one in 4 weeks time.

    • Ross

      Someone should tell Dan ‘tribal loyalty’ Hodges that.

    • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

      The Conservative party was destroyed by Thatcher. Their demographic is dieing out. They will wither pitifully, and leave us blissfully free from their corrupt stupid dogma.

      • Gerschwin

        Except that more people are about to vote Conservative than Labour. Interesting.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          I said will wither, not have withered. All the old Tories will die in the next 20 years or defect to Ukip.

          • Gerschwin

            Same way all Labour have flooded to SNP, Greens, SDP/Libs last 20? Cuts both ways old fruit. I know, I’m smug… it’s annoying… but I’m more intelligent than you. It is hard for some.

  • new_number_2

    To be fair Labour are trying to win this election. They are the ones with an offer to the electorate. All the Tories are doing is having cheesy photo ops with lambs and trying to scare people away from voting Labour rather than saying why anyone should vote for them.

  • Ken

    Depressing, isn’t it? Nobody really wants to win.

  • Roger Hudson

    This is getting very silly, please can we vote next thursday to get it over with.

  • UKIP wins by a landslide!

    • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

      I’d happily see them buried under a mudslide.

  • John Andrews

    Cameron is a PR man but could win the election outright if he declared that UKIP’s policy on immigration would be a redline for the Tories in 2017. I will vote UKIP, and am not a ‘defector’ from the Tories, but would be willing to vote Tory on this basis.

  • CommonSense Matters

    I feel a bit mean saying this as volunteering is good, but the latest three days a week volunteering promised to be paid for by the Tories – is the sort of short-term window dressing initiative that is like using tissue paper to cover the giant rents of social division cause by not serving the ordinary people through the day-to-day running of government. It is saying have three days a week to do social good and all the others to endure social bad. No thanks.

  • Kennybhoy

    ” Nicola Sturgeon’s aim is to put Ed Miliband in power, then torture him.”

    Nicely turned phrase! Props to whoever! 🙂

  • SNP UPRISING

    The SNP will win the election.

  • davidofkent

    In effect then, the politics of the UK are being messed up by those naughty Scots again, voting for those noisy SNP people. I cannot see the point in pretending that we still have a Union between England and Scotland if the Scots vote solidly for the party that wants to end the union. Why can’t we just dissolve the Union and let the Scots go their own way. Then we may get back to governing England and Wales properly. BTW, isn’t it time that Northern Ireland joined in union with the Republic of Ireland?

  • SNP UPRISING

    The SNP will win

  • Zando

    68% of UKIP voters did not vote Tory in 2010………………………..fact.

  • Precambrian

    Why would any of them want to win – if they get ‘forced’ into a coalition, they get all the nice monies and can blame the “partners” when it all goes wrong. And it will go wrong. We either borrow more, tax more, or spend less….and no amount of “mansion tax” or similar will make up the overspend.

    So if they get a coalition, when it all goes pear-shaped they all get to blame everyone else.

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