Published on 8 May 2015

Election 2015: restive UK holds on tight for unintended consequences

Angela Merkel likes David Cameron. She has given him and his family the exclusive potato breakfast fry up (pickled herrings optional) at her weekend retreat. Not for the faint hearted, that is an honour reserved for only a few.

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She used it to talk to him eyeball to eyeball about his real commitment to Europe. She will respect that he has renewed his mandate with a boosted vote. She will find an echo in the annihilation for the Lib Dems which echoes the crushing of the small German Free Democrats two years ago after having been the junior coalition partner for decades.

But she will also worry. A referendum on Europe now seems more than less likely, unless a vote on a referendum is defeated in the Commons with the help of europhile Tories like Ken Clarke. And once again a Tory leader will be beholden to the querulous restive right wing of his party.

This is precisely the reason why Frau Merkel prefers to be in a coalition than battling the demons in her own ranks. The spectre of John Major, good and bad, hovers all over this result. It will be interesting to see whether Cameron uses his mandate to be more bold about his vision for this country. And it would be good if he could share with us what that vision actually is.

Last night’s result was a triumph for continuity with a small c. The fear factor worked. Go to bed with Nigel and you wake up in a love triangle with Ed and Nicola was a prospect that cowed voters into the foetal position of continuity. In the end the recovery worked just about well enough for enough people to make the gamble of a Miliband government seem unnecessary.

The case for change had not been made. The triumphant campaign of Nicola Sturgeon did more than anything to wake up dormant English voters and head for the trenches of continuity. Much the same happened in Scotland during the referendum.

But the rise of the SNP after its defeat last September is the cautionary tale of this election year. In its current restive state this island nation is ripe for unintended consequences. Hold on tight.

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6 reader comments

  1. Alan says:

    Interesting how popular media analysis invariably mirrors the arrogance of those assuming leadership.

    “Last night’s result was a triumph for continuity with a small c. The fear factor worked.”

    What evidence apart from assuming victory is this based upon? Given the wholly undemocratic system of ‘first past the post’ allied with the deregulation of election funding, not to mention the archaic voting boundaries or lack of voting/population ratio’s, how do you come to such vague conclusions? Is this really reporting or the compliment to a one horse race?

    1. John says:

      The ;fear factor’ very possibly having being the relentless onslaught by approximately 90% of the press, pre-Election. A press that is rabidly right-wing (Mail / Sun / Telegraph etc etc) – with their main form of attack being to lampoon Ed Miliband in every way possible – disgustingly so in many cases. It’s as if Leveson never happened.
      As regards Boundary changes, moves will be afoot within the next 2 years (by the Tories), to re-draw at least eight…And they won’t be in any other Political Party’s favour, that’s for damn sure.

      A Nation Of Sheep Will Beget A Government Of Wolves. – Edward R.Murrow

  2. sean collins says:

    Mr Frei, don’t dispute electoral reform is necessary, but when arguing for it (‘analysis’ last night) – and by extension some form of PR – comparing the votes cast in Scotland and fiftysomething seats is as UKIP votes equalling one seat based on votes cast for ~10 times as many in the rest of the country is misleading and wrong; or is this your keenly honed sense of irony?

  3. anon says:

    one might argue that the Election result might strengthen David Cameron’s hand in negotiations? against a backdrop of disputes with quite a few member states Germany might wish to avoid another one?

    Arguably far from cementing the European concept the extreme policies foisted on weak countries with catastrophic consequences for vulnerable people in them like taking away their healthcare is actually undermining the EU?

    It is ripe, pretty self righteous (maybe they believe their own cant) for bankers in Germany and France to firstly give some countries duff loans for projects that should never have been approved /banker versus less experienced public employee making the decisions / and then for these poor countries to be held over the coals until the debts are repaid.

    reminiscent of the debtors prison reforming concept from Victorian times and with the same prospects of redeeming the debts?

    so a more realistic concept of Europe negotiated by leaders -rightly- proud of their country’s past may actually save the EU, rather than to continue to slavishly toe the line of countries who rightly are very ashamed of their past and who see nationhood as source of problems rather than a source of strength

    in all this suffering countries like Greece have being remarkably patient, if we had Germany making similar oppressive self righteous demands to us as they are currently making to countries like Greece we might consider how we might react?

  4. Barbara says:

    The referendum , after a new package for Britain in Europe has presumably been negotiated will be a devisive issue. The right wing Tories have been severely trounced by the election result. I was told by one eminent right winger that if the manifesto had been as UKIP’s that the Tories would win an outright victory! This was on the night before the election. How wrong he was.. Much of the bigotry has been defeated. Presumably the Scottish contingent will be pro Europe.
    France can scarcely oppose the record of Cameron’s government on economy and jobs unless the Socialists reign supreme.
    Hopefully a membership on the fringe will be possible, Together but different , Europe has always been a mix and to try to turn it into a melting pot would be erroneous if not impossible.We are not the only dissidents and immigration and human rights are still not resolved. We all need each other.

  5. Andrew Dundas says:

    Don’t overlook the tied result in Scotland where the votes cast split 50:50 between the ‘New State’ party and the ‘Unionist’ parties. The turnout was 600,000 down on the September referendum, which might indicate some fatigue or boredom. But turnout was way above the rest of the UK at 75%.
    Turnout of voters was much lower in the rest of the UK: slightly higher than a 60% turnout. Which is even more suggestive of boredom or rejection. We now have a situation where the biggest ‘vote’ was by the voters who couldn’t be bothered.
    Unfortunately, the ‘Freedom of Movement’ principle of the EU has ALWAYS been the foundation of what the Common Market was intended to achieve. Discriminating against EU immigrants as Cameron proposes is simply out-of-the-question. He wants us to leave, people. That’s what he’s going for – what UKIP wants. Not the British electorate.

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