Election night was a disaster for the Liberal Democrats, not only here in Lincoln but across the whole country. The electorate decided to punish them for the past five years and yet they rewarded their coalition partners the Conservatives. Why was this? Time alone may bring answers.
The Liberal Democrats were not the only party to suffer. Labour expecting to form at least a coalition with another party also failed to make headway and lost seats due to the SNP’s almost total domination of Scotland.
Here in Lincoln, Lucy Rigby was expecting to become the next MP, not see the incumbent increase his majority. I congratulate him on doing that.
The Greens had hoped to take a couple of additional seats but only managed to retain their sole seat in Brighton. UKIP, who many thought would have a number of MPs including Boston and Skegness and the Great Grimsby seats, ended up with a 50% reduction in the House of Commons. Across the county (Humber to the Wash) no seats changed hands. Whilst we saw new incumbents in Great Grimsby, Louth & Horncastle and Boston & Skegness, the parties holding the seats remained the same, Labour having two and Conservatives nine.
There are some who are already asking how any party can claim to govern when they only have 39% of the votes cast, but that is the democratic system we live with at present. It’s time that we had a system that represents the whole country and not just a small percentage of the country. The Conservatives will now govern having had only approximately 25% of the potential electorate supporting them. However, their bigger worry has to be firebrand backbenchers who will know they can demand things from David Cameron and get them because he needs their vote to maintain his slim majority.
If we consider the local election results, it appears a number of councils have seen the Conservatives increase their number of seats. Bucking that trend was Lincoln, where Labour took a seat from the Tories in Birchwood Ward. Whilst in Boston UKIP gained 13 seats, the same number as the Conservatives, with Labour and Independents gaining two each. The question now has to be who will form the administration? Will the Tories link up with Labour and the independents to keep UKIP out, or will UKIP persuade the independents and Labour to work with them? The latter is unlikely and the Tories and Labour working together at local level has history in the north of the county.
In North East Lincolnshire Labour and UKIP each gained a council seat at the expenses of the independent candidate. The council remains in no overall control, with Labour the largest party. A coalition with the Liberal Democrats would appear the most likely outcome there. In North Lincolnshire the Conservatives were defending a majority of 3 in the seventeen ward and retained control of the council with an increased majority.
In North Kesteven the Conservatives remain in control of the Council with 28 of the 43 seats. Various independent candidates hold the rest, including those who were previously Liberal Democrats. In South Kesteven all the seats were up for election and the result left the Conservatives in control with a clear majority. In East Lindsey, again, all the seats were up and the Conservatives took 35 giving them control from a council that was no overall control. In West Lindsey the 37 seats breakdown as Conservatives 21, Liberal Democrats 11, Independents 3, Labour 2 giving the Conservatives a majority of five.
Nationally, now having lost the shackles of the Liberal Democrats, the Tories are in a position to follow their right leaning policies. It is expected the Human Rights Act will be repealed and the police will gain greater powers to intercept personal internet and telephone communication. The £12 billion cuts in benefits will hit those who probably need it most. The bedroom tax and tuition fees originally devised by Labour will probably rise. It is unlikely that the 56 SNP MPs will have much power in that whilst Cameron has a majority they will be able to jump up and down and shout but have no clout.
We can see the first signs of things to come with David Cameron announcing his first cabinet ministers. George Osborne, Ian Duncan Smith, Theresa May and Nicky Morgan remain in their posts with Phillip Hammond becoming Foreign Secretary, Michael Fallon gets Defence and Michael Gove becomes Justice Minister. Mark Harper has been given the crucial role of chief whip having resigned from his post as immigration minister in February 2014, after he discovered that his cleaner was no longer entitled to work in the UK.
What is fairly certain is that having seen an anti-austerity march in London over the weekend Karl McCartney and his colleagues are going to have to deliver some very clear payback to people for supporting them and soon or the call for an alternative voting system may become more than just a call.