From the shores of the River Tamar to the tip of the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall has shown itself to be representative of British decision making this election with all Cornish seats as blue as the waters that mark its territory. The 331 seats won by the Conservatives this year secured David Cameron his second five year term of power; the power to collect a full blue Cabinet without Liberal Democrats restraining their agenda, who saw a great loss of 49 seats. Labour won 232 seats this election seeing a loss of 26 seats and the resignation of Ed Miliband as leader of the party. In Scotland nationalism took hold of the election with the SNP taking 56 seats, an impressive gain of 50 seats in five years since the 2010 election. Throughout the election debates Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the SNP would often come on top as favourite amongst the leaders. The further reaches or the left and right wings of British politics found themselves with one seat each; the Green Party retaining Brighton Pavilion with Caroline Lucas as MP and UKIP under Douglas Carswell kept it seat in Clacton.
The Conservative victories announced throughout the night of this election was heralded by the economic omen of the surging value of the pound. The FTSE 100 surged 100 points (2.3%) as the emerging picture of Conservative victory throughout the night provided the manifesto promise of future economic freedoms on energy prices amongst other powers for big businesses. This rise in the value of the market has been largest since January 2015. John Cridland, director of the CBI business lobby welcomed the stability of a Conservative government with the Telegraph reporting him saying that the result “removes a significant amount of uncertainty for business owners”. In the Victory Speech of PM David Cameron he reinforced the importance of economic recovery for the entirety of the UK saying “Indeed it means rebalancing our economy, building that northern powerhouse … giving everyone in our country a chance so no matter where you are from you have the opportunity to make the most of your life”.
However For those depending heavily on EU investment in the South West of Britain, especially Cornwall, the potential of leaving the EU after a proposed referendum of our EU membership in 2017 could spell economic disaster for communities. Cameron in his peach promised 30 million more apprenticeships, tax cuts for 30 million people and the building of more homes that people can but themselves. It may seem that the economy is set to e strong over the next five years, however those that can afford these new homes comes into question with millions young buyers being pushed off the market by ever rising house prices.
The agenda of the Conservative government from 2010 up to current have been adapted for their comparatively left-wing coalition partners Liberal Democrats. However with a majority government the backbenchers within the Conservative party are further pushing for an exit from the EU alongside a shift to the right British politics, with the Guardian recently announcing Conservative ‘secret’ plans to cut welfare by £8 billion this government.
The Conservative party although the winning party this election, looked to be losing much of its right wing support to the UK Independence Party with such figures as Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell defecting before the election. With a majority government the Conservative party were not as damaged by UKIP as some would have predicted, however the political zeitgeist of right wing politics has been set by a mood of austerity and anti-EU feeling. Many in the right wing of the Conservative party have been eager to leave or push for further reforms of the British membership of the EU, with such figures as Henry Smith MP regularly voicing their criticisms of the European Union’s hold on British law. One of the reforms set to occur in the next government is the scrapping of the Human Rights Act, an action that will seek to sever the ties between British courts and that of the European Court of Human Rights. Some see this as important move towards securing British interests of sovereignty however this view of the European Courts being a hindrance to the British system has caused alarm from the institution, voicing its concerns for the first time about its “frequent misrepresentation” by British media. The European Courts protect basic rights to life and marriage amongst a huge array of guarantees of rights for EU Citizens. The new attitudes found in the make-up of ministers this government draws into question how risky a detachment of British relations with the European Court of Human Rights could be.
In 2013 over half of the Conservative MPs who voted in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act voted against the legislation, and although legislation was passed into law, the track record on equal civil rights for UK Citizens does not look promising in a stronger Conservative government. The track record for both civil and human rights support amongst Conservative MPs may seem worrying to those aware that this same party is hoping to scrap the Human Rights Act. Ben Gummer, Britain’s new Health Minister was reported previously by The Guardian to be principally opposed to abortion, Michael Gove, the new Justice Secretary had previously written in The Times that he wanted to bring back Hanging and Priti Patel Britain’s Employment Minister has also shown favour for the reintroduction of the death penalty.
These leading figures in the Conservative government are worryingly opposed to some of the most basic rights upheld by the European Court of Human Rights. The grantee of what we have become accustomed to as basic civil and human rights for UK citizens may thus come into question over the next five years of government, but only time will tell.
With lessened Labour strength to aid, the role of the political power of the SNP will be an interesting development in British politics but revolutionary in its representation of Scotland in Westminster. The very representation of left wing politics will change as they describe Scottish Labour as ‘Red Tories’ and take their seats. David Cameron in his victory speech talked of the economic importance of the ‘northern powerhouse’ in Britain, but the political powerhouse of Scotland in the North has already made its mark. Whichever way the SNP is led in its successes or failures by Nicola Sturgeon in the next five years, The Spectator among many Scots see this past election as the ‘Scottish Election’.
In this focus on the Conservative government and its approach to the issues of the economy, Europe and human rights it would appear that the UK has found itself in an interesting time of governance, set to be economically stable yet unsure in the field of rights.
The shifts in partisan power have seen the end of the three horse race as Old Yellow took a tumble over the stacks of revived parties that have found new support amongst the electorate or simply changed coat. Westminster in the next five years will certainly produce ripples that will be felt across Britain, Europe and the world in every aspect of our lives.