Why Liberals Should Rejoice in David Cameron’s Reelection

Nick Clegg David Cameron
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom deliver a news conference at 10 Downing Street, London, December 21, 2010 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

Liberals who worry that Prime Minister David Cameron’s reelection on Thursday marks the demise of an internationalist Britain in favor of “Little England” fail to appreciate just how much the Conservative Party leader has done for liberalism.

Nick Clegg, Cameron’s former deputy, was understandably bitter when he stepped down as Liberal Democrat leader on Friday. Having lost all but eight seats in Parliament, the traditional third party in British politics was replaced by the Scottish nationalists who won 56 seats.

“Years of remorseless economic and social hardship following the crash in 2008 and the grinding insecurities of globalization have led for people to reach to new certainties,” Clegg said. “The politics of identity, of nationalism, of us versus them is now on the rise.”

He could have said the same about any Western democracy. The conclusion he drew from this, however, was wrong.

Liberalism, here, as well as across Europe, is not faring well against the politics of fear.

His left-leaning brand of liberalism, no. But former Liberal Democrat voters in England didn’t switch to the United Kingdom Independence Party which represents those politics of fear. They voted for Cameron’s Conservatives instead because he advances a type of liberalism that works.

Clegg isn’t alone in underestimating Cameron’s liberalism. Read more “Why Liberals Should Rejoice in David Cameron’s Reelection”

Scottish Nationalists Bound to Disappoint Supporters

Edinburgh Scotland
View of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 16, 2011 (Wikimedia Commons/Ronnie Macdonald)

Despite winning 56 out of Scotland’s 59 seats in Britain’s general election on Thursday, the Scottish National Party is almost certain to disappoint its supporters.

The nationalists were expecting to play kingmakers in the new Parliament. Polls had shown neither Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives nor the opposition Labour Party winning an outright majority. With the SNP set to take over almost all of Labour’s seats in Scotland, it was projected to be able to give the socialists a majority.

But the Conservatives eked out a majority of their own while Labour did worse than expected. It went down from 257 to 232 seats when 323 are needed for a working majority. Read more “Scottish Nationalists Bound to Disappoint Supporters”

Britain’s Cameron Stays in Power, Other Leaders Resign

British prime minister David Cameron delivers a press conference outside his office at 10 Downing Street in London, England, May 23, 2013
British prime minister David Cameron delivers a press conference outside his office at 10 Downing Street in London, England, May 23, 2013 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

British prime minister David Cameron stayed in power on Thursday, promising to government for “one nation” in his second term.

Cameron’s Conservative Party won an overall majority of 331 seats in the House of Commons on Thursday — defying polls that had predicted a hung parliament.

The Liberal Democrats, who governed in coalition with the Conservatives for the last five years, suffered what leader Nick Clegg described on Friday as a “crushing” defeat. The party fell from 56 to eight seats.

Clegg resigned as leader, saying, “It’s simply heartbreaking to see so many friends and colleagues who have served their constituents over so many years abruptly lose their seats because of forces entirely beyond their control.”

Labour’s Ed Miliband resigned as well, saying he was “deeply sorry” for the party’s losses, especially in Scotland where the Scottish National Party took 56 out of 59 seats.

Labour went down from 257 to 232 seats, its worst showing since 1987. The socialist party won only 30 percent of the popular vote against almost 37 percent for the Conservatives.

The United Kingdom Independence Party’s Nigel Farage stepped down as party leader as well after failing to win a seat in the constituency of Thanet South. The Euroskeptic party got 13 percent support nationwide but failed to win more than one seat.

Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system disadvantages small parties like UKIP but benefited the SNP in Scotland where the other parties split the pro-union vote.

The nationalists had hoped for a Labour victory so their support could be crucial to the next government. Cameron’s triumph could see support for independence in Scotland rise where a referendum last year found a 55 percent majority in favor of staying in the United Kingdom.

Cameron promised on Friday to “implement as fast as I can the devolution that all parties agreed for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland” but it’s doubtful the extra powers will be enough for the SNP.

With British Election Days Away, Reason to Question Polls

View of the Houses of Parliament in London, England, December 21, 2011
View of the Houses of Parliament in London, England, December 21, 2011 (Ben Sutherland)

With surveys showing Britain’s Conservative and Labour Parties neck and neck for Thursday’s election, both are hoping to prove the pollsters wrong. There is reason to believe they might.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s party is hoping for a replay of the 1992 election when the polls predicted a narrow win for the opposition Labour Party but John Mayor actually won a comfortable majority in the House of Commons with 42 percent support.

Labour may want to repeat a more recent experience. In 2010, the polls gave it between 24 and 29 percent support, with most predicting 28 percent. In fact, it got 30 percent support although it still lost 91 seats.

May 2015, the New Statesman‘s election website, reports that in all but one of the twenty most recent elections, pollsters overestimated Labour’s support. The exception was 2010 when they overestimated the Liberal Democrats’ popularity instead.

This should be encouraging to the Conservatives who are urging voters to stick with a successful government rather than risk an unstable Labour alliance with the Scottish National Party. But with less than a week to go before the election, they had probably expected to be up by now. The Conservatives have delivered on their key promises to reduce the deficit and revitalize the British economy. Labour, by contrast, has lurched to the left under Ed Miliband’s leadership when voters have traditionally punished the socialist party when it veered too far from the center.

One thing that’s working against the Conservatives is the support for the Euroskeptic United Kingdom Independence Party. Polling at around 14 percent nationwide, Nigel Farage’s party is unlikely to win more than a handful of seats in Westminster. But it could split the right-wing vote in many constituencies, allowing Labour to take seats that would otherwise have gone to the Conservatives.

Under Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system, whichever party wins a plurality of the votes in a given constituency wins.

This also benefits the Scottish National Party. Although less than half of Scottish voters supports the separatists, they could nevertheless win almost all of Scotland’s 59 seats in Parliament.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, is expected to benefit from tactical voting. The Guardian reports that half of Conservative voters in his Sheffield Hallam constituency are likely to support him in order to stop Labour taking over his seat.

There is no such polling data available for all of Britain’s 650 constituencies, however, making it difficult to predict the outcome.

May2015 takes into account the dozens of constituency-level polls the Conservative peer Michael Ashcroft has conducted but extrapolates the rest of its predictions from national polls. It gives the Conservatives 273 seats, 34 less than they have now, and Labour 268, up by ten. Other forecasts similarly show the Conservatives ahead but falling short of a majority. But if the actual election result is only a few percentage points different from the polls, that could affect the outcome in dozens of constituencies.

Five More Years: British Should Reelect Cameron, Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom deliver a news conference at 10 Downing Street, London, December 21, 2010
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom deliver a news conference at 10 Downing Street, London, December 21, 2010 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

With Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives expected to once again fall short of a parliamentary majority in the election this week, this website is hoping the Liberal Democrats will scrape together enough seats to keep the two parties in power. The last five years of coalition government have been stable and successful. The alternative, a Labour government held to ransom by Scottish separatists, would be anything but. Read more “Five More Years: British Should Reelect Cameron, Clegg”

Scottish Nationalists Less Progressive Than They Claim

David Cameron Alex Salmond
British prime minister David Cameron and Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, shakes hands in Edinburgh, October 15, 2012 (Scottish Government)

Stories published in the Financial Times and New Statesman this weekend argue that the Scottish National Party is actually more corporatist than socialist and that Labour voters may in for a disappointment if the two go into coalition together.

With polls showing the nationalists winning as many as 56 out of 59 Scottish seats in the general election next week, a minority Labour government would probably need their support to stay in power.

Some leftwingers relish the prospect, seeing the SNP as a less compromising progressive party that would presumably tug Labour to the left. Nicola Sturgeon, the party leader and Scottish first minister, has taken Labour’s Ed Miliband to task for accepting many of the Conservative-led government’s austerity measures and often reminds voters the National Health Service north of the border is more generously funded.

Left-wing voters should be careful what they wish for, though, argues the New Statesman, a magazine that supports Labour. The SNP “has no ideological core” and is first and foremost a separatist movement. Read more “Scottish Nationalists Less Progressive Than They Claim”

Labour’s Miliband Rules Out Deal with Scottish Nationalists

British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband on Thursday ruled out a coalition with the Scottish National Party if his party falls short of a parliamentary majority next month.

“If the price of having a Labour government is a deal or coalition with the SNP, it’s not going to happen,” Miliband said during a Q&A session with voters that was broadcast by the BBC. Read more “Labour’s Miliband Rules Out Deal with Scottish Nationalists”