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General Election 2010 Issues for Modern Studies
The Results Share of the Vote Seats Won
The Hung Parliament So much for the idea that the First Past the Post system (FPTP) always delivers a decisive result! In the closest election for a generation, no party now has overall control of the House of Commons.
It was a bad result for all the parties! All the major parties could be disappointed with their results. David Cameron never won an overall majority. Gordon Brown lost the election and over 100 Labour MPs. Despite “Cleggmania”, the Lib Dems’ actually lost 5 MPs The SNP predicted it would win 20 seats. It won only 7. Only the Green Party, who gained its first MP, Caroline Lucas, could be completely happy with their result.
Party Policies: Conservative • The Conservatives’ big idea was “the big society”. • The party believes that Britain is “broken” by poverty, unemployment and crime. • The country can only be “healed” by the public taking greater responsibility over their own lives and the wider community. • So, flagship policies included; • encouraging parents and charities to set up new academy schools, • giving people the power to veto council tax rises through local referendums, • promising communities the right to buy their local pub or post office • The Conservatives promised • to reverse the government's proposed National Insurance rise • to raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1m • to freeze council tax for two years • to increase NHS spending in real terms every year. Conservative Party Election Broadcast 2010
Conservative Campaign Message to voters: The Tories have changed; no longer the “nasty party”, but modern, inclusive ….. and caring
Party Policies: Labour Labour’s “big idea” was that the party saved the economy after the banks collapsed in 2008. Therefore, only Labour can be trusted to protect the vulnerable when paying back the budget deficit; the Conservatives will favour the wealthy. Labour promised not to raise income tax rates. Other plans are to tackle under-performing schools, hospitals and police forces by having them taken over by teams from more successful organisations. Labour promised a "toddler tax credit" which would provide £4 per week extra for families with one and two-year-olds from 2012. Cancer test results would be available within a week. The National Minimum Wage would rise in line with average earnings by the end of the next Parliament. Labour Party Election Broadcast 2010
Labour Campaign Message to Voters: Only Labour can lead the country back to recovery. Despite the makeover, David Cameron’s Conservatives are still the bad old Conservatives of the 1980s. Labour is about fairness for all. The Labour campaign was put on the defensive by “bigot-gate” Bigot gaffe
Party Policies: Liberal Democrat The Liberal Democrats “big idea” was fairness ; it was the only party who would be fair in the economic and political changes Britain requires. The Liberal Democrats would scrap income tax on earnings up to £10,000. They also promised to protect the state pension and increase pay for service personnel. ID cards would be scrapped and the Trident nuclear programme would not be renewed. As part of their “clean up” of UK politics, the party would limit political donations to £10,000, give people the power to sack errant MPs and introduce the single transferrable vote system (STV). Liberal Democrat Election Broadcast 2010
Liberal Democrat Campaign Cleggmania Message to Voters. The Lib Dems attempted to portray themselves as different from the “two old parties”. Under the banner of change, they offered a “new kind of politics”. “Cleggmania” swept Britain after Nick Clegg’s successful performance on the first leaders’ debate.
Party Policies: Scottish National Party • The SNP’s “big idea” was the concept of electing “local SNP champions” across Scotland in order to “protect” Scotland from the cuts required to reduce the UK budget deficit. • While the SNP could not win power, it campaigned on: • not renewing the Trident nuclear fleet • abolishing the Scottish Office • building a new river Forth crossing • increasing payments for Scottish war veterans. SNP Election Broadcast 2010
Party Campaign: Scottish National Party Message to Voters: “Westminster cuts are on their way”. Only the SNP can save Scotland’s jobs and public services. The SNP unsuccessfully challenged the decision to exclude Alex Salmond from the leaders’ debates.
Influences on Voters: The Media? The Sun did its best to win it for the Conservatives….
Influences on Voters. The Media As always, there is no automatic link between newspaper support and a party winning. The Sun traditionally backs the winner, but then again, it usually waits to see who is most likely to win before it decides who to back. This time around, only the Daily Mirror, TheObserver and the Daily Record backed Labour. The Sun, The News of the World, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express all backed the Conservatives. The Guardian switched its support from Labour to Lib Dem. The Mirror did its best to win it for Labour, even urging tactical voting for the Lib Dems in marginal seats
Influences on Voters: The Leaders’ Debate The first ever UK leaders’ debates took place this year, with three debates on ITV, Sky and BBC. Around 10 million people watched the first debate on ITV. Nick Clegg performed very well and the rise in support for the Lib Dems in the polls led many to believe the leaders’ debates would have a decisive influence. But, the Lib Dems’ vote increased by a mere 1%. Perhaps this is because, unlike in the USA, we do not vote directly for our political leader. It may also have been a reflection on the FPTP voting system, where a vote for the Lib Dems was, all too often, in reality a “wasted vote”.
Influence of voters: Social Media All the parties took the new media very seriously. All had their official and unofficial websites with links to social media. Barack Obama’s success in the USA was, in part, attributable to his mobilisation of supporters via Facebook and Twitter. All had dedicated teams working on their social media presence. Could voters be swayed by an online campaign? Could voters be persuaded to turn out by social media? Social media and the election
Influences on Voters: Social Class How people said they would vote. Source; The Guardian, 08 05 10 As always, the backdrop to how people viewed the election was their social class background. Once again, the Conservatives fared best amongst AB professionals and once again, Labour did best among the poorest. The Conservatives’ safest seats are; Richmond (Yorks) 62.8%, Beaconsfield, 61.06%, Windsor, 60.85%, Hampshire North East, 60.59% and Chelsea & Fulham, 60.45%. Labour’s safest seats are Liverpool Walton, 71.96%, Knowsley 70.87%, East Ham, 70.42%, Glasgow North East, 68.35% and Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, 66.6%.
A Representative Parliament? Shabana Mahmood (LAB) , first ever female Muslim MP Pamela Nash (LAB), Airdrie and Shotts is the youngest MP (25). There are now 27 minority ethnic MPs, an increase of 13 from 2005. Helen Grant becomes the first woman of African descent to represent the Conservatives at Westminster. Priti Patel became the first Conservative Asian female MP. 21.5% of MPs are female. The number of Labour women has fallen from 94 to below 80 – about 30% of Labour MPs. The number of Conservative women has risen from 18 to about 48 – about 16% of Conservative MPs. The number of Liberal Democrat women has fallen from 9 to 7 – about 13% of Liberal Democrat MPs. The number of SNP MPs stayed the same, 1, 16.7%.
Issues: Electoral reform The Lib Dems have made voting reform a key demand in their coalition negotiations. Labour have promised a referendum on voting reform. Many other organisations and individuals are once again demanding the end of FPTP and a system of proportional representation Vote for Change campaign
Issue: The West Lothian Question Scotland voted very differently from England. A Conservative/Lib Dem coalition would see the Conservatives as the largest, governing party in the UK but with only 1 MP in Scotland. A Labour/Lib Dem coalition would see Labour as the largest governing party in the UK, but requiring its 41 MPs elected from Scotland to decide on health, education in England, when MPs from England have no say on health and education in Scotland. How will the new government deal with the West Lothian question? Will Scotland move closer to independence after the Scottish elections of 2011? While the Conservatives became the largest party in the House of Commons, Labour’s Jim Murphy won again in the affluent constituency of East Renfrewshire, increasing his majority. Why is Scotland so different?