Verdict on the Election Campaign

This general election has a fundamental paradox to it: it has been both incredibly exciting and boring at the same town. The excitement though is more focussed on how complicated it will be to predict who will form the next government, if one can be formed at all. In that sense, the best of the election campaign will arrive after 22:00 tonight. 

The campaigns have been so heavily scripted that they have been boring, it has also made it nigh on impossible for the parties to appeal to anyone but those already decided on who they want to vote for. The targeting of core voters and a bland appeal to centrist voters who have decided who they’d most likely vote for explains why neither the Conservatives or Labour have seen any dramatic shift in their polling ratings. There has been no game changing moments be that a major policy announcement, a gaffe or major event that could influence the result. The TV debates were laboured and only served to put the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon into the public spotlight. The rise of the SNP, since last years independence referendum, has been the biggest game changer. If not for that then the electoral boundaries would have heavily favoured Labour to be the biggest party in terms of the number of seats in the Commons. 

The paradox is the result of a rare occurrence in politics: a predictable monumental shift in the dynamics of voting. Usually monumental shifts leave us with crazy events like the Portillo Moment, or the election of Clement Atlee over and above a victorious war time Prime Minister. Such moments may yet occur, but most of them have already occurred. The rise of UKIP and the SNP (essentially the rise of rift and left wing nationalism) with the rapid decline of the Liberal Democrats have already made their appearance in the opinion polls. 

There has been no game changing moment like the first time the electorate saw the confident, articulate and unknown leader of the Liberal Democrats back in the 2010 debates. To a degree Nicola Sturgeon had this effect, though everyone knew the SNP we’re going to take almost all the Scottish seats anyway. Everyone knows about Nigel Farage. Plaid Cymru have limited appeal compared to the SNP. The only leader that could have benefitted from a Cleggmania-like phenomena is Natalie Bennett for the Greens, who botched up her moments to make the Greens a more visible and influential force in the election. The Greens should be regretting not having Caroline Lucas as their leader, she was the ace in the hole the Greens  needed to make their breakthrough.

An election this close with so many fringe parties holding influence has never happened before in a UK General Election, perhaps FPTP will provide the yawners some much needed drama. Unless some big events happen tonight and in the early hours of tomorrow morning, this will be remembered as the most exciting and undramatic election ever to be held. That’s what those in the media yawning at all of this have failed to grasp. 

Gareth Mawer
I consider myself a left libertarian committed to promoting the philosophy of liberty, even though I do not always support proposals that are normally considered libertarian. Georgism and mutualism have had profound influences over my beliefs, though I'm not afraid to digress from them were necessary. My mains interests are politics, economics and philosophy.