Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context.
8 May 2015
The abstentionist bloc in the British electorate registered a resounding success in the UK parliamentary elections yesterday 7 May.
Politically, this is of primordial importance since a good turnout by the abstentionists cocks a snook at the electoral system and undermines the crumbling f0undations of the democratic facade.
Thus, 15,738,205 people – at 33.9% just over a third of the UK electorate – boycotted the poll.
This is a far higher larger percentage of the electorate than supported any of the political parties taking part in the poll.
A total of 11,334,920 people – only 24.4% of the electorate – backed the victorious Conservative (Tory) Party.
The runner-up Labour Party was backed by 9,347,326 voters – only 20.1% of the electorate.
The third most popular party, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), had the support of 3,881,129 voters – 8.4% of the electorate.
The fourth most popular party, the Liberal Democrats, appealed to 2,415,888 voters – 5.2% of the electorate.
Next (fifth) came the Scottish National Party (SNP) with 1,454,436 voters – 3.1% of the electorate.
The Green Party (sixth), the only other party that scored over a million votes, was supported by 1,157,613 voters – 2.5% of the electorate.
[A technical point:
Share of the vote means the percentage of total votes actually cast in the poll (ie excluding abstainers) that have been won by a particular party. Proportion of the electorate refers to the percentage of the total number of those eligible to vote, ie it includes both those who have actually cast their votes and those who have abstained.]
On the basis of these figures, those stalwart citizens who boycotted the poll, standing firm against self-interested special pleading by party hacks and the media claque, turn out to represent the views of the largest proportion of the British electorate involved in the poll.
At this point, simple-minded observers with an axe to grind will claim that those who abstained will have done so for a variety of reasons – that there is no consistency in the views they may hold.
Right on. Just so!
Precisely the situation that obtains in every political party.
All political parties are a coalition of views, some members wanting to prevent the passage of a new railway across their back garden, others wanting to save humanity from hunger and want.
So it is too with the noble band of abstentionists.
Like Antigone1984, many will, rightly, take the view, that there is no point in taking part in the ballot because it will have no effect: “If voting changed anything, it would not be allowed.”
Others – sometimes the same people – will refuse to take party because the voting procedure is not democratic. Yes, you heard right. In our so-called democracy what we lack is democracy. Particularly and above all when it comes to the ballot box.
Take the party which gained the third largest number of votes in yesterday’s ballot – the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
The Labour Party was backed by 9,347,326 voters – 20.1% of the electorate. It gained 232 seats in yesterday’s election.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP), had the support of 3,881,129 voters – 8.4% of the electorate. Yet it gained – believe it or not – only one seat in parliament.
The Liberal Democrats (8 seats gained) and the Greens (only one seat) also singularly failed to gain seats in proportion to the number of people who voted for them.
By contrast, with 1,454,436 voters, only 3.1% of the electorate, the Scottish National Party scooped up 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats.
Bully for them! The SNP’s policies are, in our view, more or less right on.
But it is hardly democracy.
For a comprehensive tally of the results you could do worse than check out the BBC table at UK election parliamentary election results 2015 (BBC).
The following account of the results is largely based on a summary by the BBC on 8 May, the day after the election.
The Conservatives have 331 seats – five more than are needed (326 ) for a majority in the 650-seat House of Commons (the lower and most important chamber of parliament).
Mr Cameron’s rivals Ed Miliband (Labour Party), Nick Clegg (Liberal Democratic Party) and Nigel Farage (UKIP – UK Independence Party) have all resigned as party leaders following their parties’ failure to gain enough seats .
Many of the big beasts in the outgoing parliament lost their seats.
With all 650 seats declared, the Conservatives have ended up with 331 seats in the House of Commons – 24 more than at the last parliamentary election in May 2010.
Labour have ended up with 232 seats, the Liberal Democrats 8, the Scottish National Party (SNP) 56, Plaid Cymru (the Welsh nationalist party) 3, UKIP 1, the Greens 1 and others 19.
The Conservatives snagged a 36.9% share of the UK national vote (ie the total number of votes actually cast in the election), Labour 30.4%, UKIP 12.6%, the Liberal Democrats 7.9%, the SNP 4.7%, the Green Party 3.8% and Plaid Cymru 0.6%.
Turnout was 66.1%, marginally up on 2010 and the highest since 1997.
The victory by the Conservatives, who depended on the support of their junior coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, in the outgoing government, means they will be able to govern without the need for a coalition or a formal agreement with other parties.
George Osborne, who is expected to remain chancellor, said the Conservatives had been “given a mandate to get on with the work we started five years ago” and would follow the “clear instructions” of the British public.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
- Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
- Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
- The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
- Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
- Ladder (21 June 2012)
- A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
- A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
- Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.