National newspapers and pollsters might have been surprised at the results of the General Election, but readers of the Chron should not have been.
My faith in the bookies over the pollsters proved absolutely correct.
A number of pollsters, quizzed on their total failure, admitted that they had ignored results that didn’t seem to fit the perceived way things were going.
What they meant was the way the media shaped the reporting of the election: the national media can only handle excitement — predictability doesn’t sell papers — which is why neck and neck races and landslides are so popular. Last week’s result was seen as neck and neck, except by the bookies.
I wrote that the most likely outcome would be the Tories with the largest number of seats, Labour in Scotland wiped out, the Lib Dems given a kicking, SNP the third largest party, Labour unlikely to do well, and UKIP ending up with only one or two seats, as well as all the losing party leaders out of a job. Pretty close.
I did think that a lot of people would vote Tory once they actually got in the election booth, because the Tories’ record on the economy was a known quantity. Unfortunately I didn’t write this down, because I didn’t want to appear biased.
Based on highly researched analysis — a friend in Rochester — I also said that UKIP’s Mark Reckless would lose his seat. Not bad at all, mainly thanks to William Hill, of course.
Locally, and predictably, the Tories retained control of everything. Even people who didn’t vote for her seem to have no problem with Fiona Bruce, who is a good constituency MP. The Moorlands used to be vaguely marginal but the lack of any big-hitting ministerial visits this year showed that Karen Bradley, another hard-working MP, has got the seat sewn up for the Tories.
More worrying are Cheshire East Council and Congleton Town Council, who, particularly the latter, became even more Tory. Regardless of party politics, dominance by one party has the potential to go wrong, as the Lib Dems showed when they ran Congleton Borough Council. The ability to do whatever you want can be good if you have good ideas, but a few bad apples can cause things to go awry.
Cheshire East Council seems to be getting better under Michael Jones, even though at times he’s like an unguided missile, but Congleton town’s rather heavy handed handling of the DDU episode is a cloud on the horizon. It is remarkable that Cheshire East’s ineptitude over the local plan seems to have had no effect at all on voters.
The Conservatives on both councils might feel the public endorsement means they can’t be criticised, but all those who voted for them have the right to expect well run, democratic, efficient and transparent councils. The Chronicle, if anything, will be keep an even closer eye on what they’re doing, in the absence of any real opposition.
Nationally a lot of people seem unhappy at the result. I have every reason to be among them: hardly any of the people I voted for won seats.
(In the spirit of transparency, I expect from our local councils, nationally I voted Green because I think global warming is an issue that dwarfs all others and a “greener” lifestyle would ease the pressure on the NHS by encourage people to take more exercise. Locally I voted for all the main parties, because I believe in balance).
Those who complain miss the point of democracy. The alternative is not some other form of democracy where everyone gets their way, but something much less pleasant: oligarchy, a monarchy or dictatorship. No votes are “wasted”. The deal is not that all votes get people’s choices elected but that votes mean the process is being observed and adhered to.
Not for nothing do people without democracy take to the streets and demand it, or form lengthy queues when they get it. Not for nothing do dictators fear democracy, rigging ballots and intimidating or murdering opponents.
Your vote might not have counted this time but it will do next, and politicians know they will be held to account.
To go back to the beginning and the media message: it also seems that some in the media are trying to create the illusion that UKIP had an effect on British politics, and has a role to play.
It seems to me it failed completely. This election was its big chance to grab a share of power and it didn’t. Only one MP and its charismatic leader failing to get elected is not a success, especially when its expectations were (probably) for no more than 6-10 seats.
It’s no wonder UKIP doesn’t want Mr Farage to resign (assuming it wasn’t all planned to begin with).
One possible reason for its poor performance is, ironically, Europe. Despite claiming to be different to other politicians, UKIP MEPs are just the same, but worse.
According to figures compiled by The Independent in 2012, over the previous three years the party’s 12 MEPs had tabled no reports, 11 had tabled no opinions, nine had signed no written declarations or motions, and seven had tabled no amendments to reports, ranking them at the bottom of all 753 MEPs.
UKIP would say that as it doesn’t agree with the EU people should expect no more, but of course its MEPs keep all the money and expenses that Europe has to offer.
Mr Farage is still an MEP and in his resignation speech said: “I intend to take the summer off, enjoy myself a little bit; not do very much politics at all,” suggesting that his work as an MEP is still not high on his agenda.