Friday, 6 May 2011

Election and referendum results

I'm very pleased with the results today. The UK has voted decisively against AV and in favour of the present FPTP system. It seems that such a strong vote (around the No - 68%, Yes - 32% mark) shuts off questions about further electoral reform. If the vote had been No but closer there may have been an argument for PR, but I don't think that is the case now.

It was a good day for Conservatives in the English local elections also. There was concern that as a sitting government pursuing a range of austerity measures the Conservatives would suffer huge losses. Instead the vote has held up and some small gains have been made.

The Liberal Democrats made big losses and Labour picked these up. Some commentators are of the view that the LibDems have acted as a human shield for the Conservatives as the junior coalition partner. I have a different view.

I feel that last year people voted Conservative because they took the same long term view of painful cuts in the short term to provide a solid economic base and prosperity in the future. The results today show that those same people still believe in cuts now for a better future.

In contrast people voted Liberal Democrat for differing reasons. Those people who voted LibDem as a protest are no longer able to do this with the LibDems in government. But more importantly many people voted LibDem based on their core policies which have now been abandoned - especially on tuition fees.

The reason the Conservative vote has held up while the Liberal Democrat vote has collapsed is not because the LibDems are a human shield. It is because people who voted Conservative have got what they wanted and people who voted Liberal Democrat have not. 

What is particularly interesting is that many (former?) Liberal Democrats are also supporters of proportional representation. I wonder if they should reconsider this position considering the way coalition government works!

I'd also like to congratulate all of the party activists who worked hard for the Conservatives and for No2AV over the course of the campaign. We've spent hours leafleting, doorstepping and generally trying to engage members of the public in the issues and its nice to see the hard work come to fruition.