England & Wales

Voting for change?


‘Voting for change’ has been a key theme of this election with all the political parties attempting to make it central to their message.

Today the main story is the unusual and potentially historic election result that just might presage electoral reform and radical change in the way we do national politics. But did people ‘vote for change’? Not really.

The Tories polled 36% of the popular vote: nearly 4% up on 2005 but lower than Thatcher or John Major’s election victories. Labour dropped to 29% of the vote and the Lib Dems were only able to add one percentage point to their 2005 score. This seems to suggest that the vast majority of people went out and voted for party they normally vote for, with about one in twenty (a 5% swing) switching from one of the two main parties of government to the other. It was also notable that dispute the expenses scandal there was not particular pattern of voting against incumbent MPs

This hardly suggest a radical agenda. Similarly at local level, there are some big stories, notably Labour gaining council seats and the Lib Dems losing them, but still the overall picture is that less than one in five councils are changing control suggesting again that people have largely  the status quo.

So not so much voting for change as voting for more of the same.

Of course the irony is that the chaos effect produced by the peculiarities of the UK electoral system means that tiny variations in voting patterns have thrown up a result that is unique and that could lead to some massive strategic political change.

I’ve not yet caught up with how the foreign press are reporting it, but I suspect this accidental revolution will be seen as very British.