Ed Miliband falls on his sword after a humiliating night
The outcome of the 2015 election may be among the most surprising in living memory.
The pre-election polls* saw Labour and Conservative support draw level and many predicted that we would be in for another Coalition government of some form, the SNP would make great gains and the Lib Dems would suffer the brunt of the electorate’s anger at the Coalition.
Well, they were half right.
As the exit poll came in, a lot of pundits and several Labour bigwigs dismissed the initial findings that pointed to the Conservatives making progress while they would lose ground.
So what happened? How could it all have gone so wrong?
We make no claims to be experts, but we present to you our pet theories.
1. Increased Competition
With information more easily accessible thanks to the Internet and the inclusion of more political parties in the TV debates, awareness of messages external to the Big 3 parties is at an all time high – and one only has to look at the increased vote share enjoyed by UKIP, The Green Party and of course the SNP. In some areas these options will have diluted Labour’s share of the vote and certainly contributed to them losing several marginal seats.
2. Media Coverage
We paid close attention to the front pages of the papers in the days leading up to the election and saw that only The Mirror was pledging its support to Labour. Every other daily was promoting either Conservatives or UKIP – with The Sun even giviing readers advice on ‘tactical voting to keep out Red Ed‘ Even in the information age, propoganda is a powerful tool and there are still many who rely on a single source for their news – and they will have been influenced by this factor.
Labour’s attitude throughout this campaign (and indeed overall during this Parliament) seems to have been ‘The Coalition is so unpopular, all we have to do is point out their wrongdoing and coast back into No. 10 on momentum rather than demonstrate how we would be any different or better‘ The palpable sense of disbelief and panic seen on the faces of several key figures on the release of the exit poll (Ed Balls among them, quite fittingly) demonstrated that they had bought into the polling data that indiciated this would be a close run battle hook line and sinker – and the outcome shows they paid the price.
4. The non-voters
Apporximately a third of the electorate decided to stay home on the day – as in 2010, yet again the apathetic outnumber the votes for any single party. Now, we don’t judge those who don’t vote – we can understand frustration at the old guard parties (they are after all why we exist!) but that is a lot of lost votes.
5. Ed Miliband
We’ve given Ed a fair share of grief over the last 2 years (and stand by every word of it) However, we want to make it clear we consider him to be a decent man who on balance did act on behalf of ordinary people. However, we do not believe he was ever the right man to lead the Opposition as demonstrated by his fairly lacklustre leadership style which saw him being reactionary and missing easy opporunities to show himself as a man of principle and action – and his mannerisms were too easy a target for ridicule (not that we agree on judging a person on their looks but it does happen and people can be more easily swayed by a charismatic personality – something Ed clearly lacked.)
Of course, it is easy to be wise after the event – what is important is that Labour learn from these mistakes and present a better case for their future!
* We would argue polling data is inherently unreliable when you consider the sample size and where the surveys are conducted – plus the fact that people can and do lie about voting habits