So the opinion polls got it wrong again. We were led to believe there was no way the Tories would get a majority. We were tempted by the tantalising prospect of the SNP holding the balance of power at Westminster.
Perhaps, this is what dissuaded English floating voters – the idea of being governed by a neighbouring nation. Well, now they know how it feels to be Scottish! We’ve had to put up with that situation for three centuries, and they ran scared at the prospect of a mere five years. What is more likely is that voters turned away from Labour precisely because Ed Miliband was so vociferous in ruling out a deal with the SNP. People obviously thought ‘we don’t want this idiot running the country on his own.’
It was undoubtedly a bad night for Labour. This, however, was not like 1983, when Michael Foot’s laudably ambitious manifesto was rubbished by the right as being ‘the longest suicide note in history’. Nor was it like 1992 when Neil Kinnock thought he had the election was in the bag at a celebrated a week too soon with the infamous Sheffield rally. This was the election where Labour stood on the platform of not really knowing what the platform was.
If one moment was to sum up Labour’s campaign, it was when Ed Miliband’s posed in front of a ‘plinth’, that is, a lump of concrete, with his pledges to the nation chiselled out. It was like looking at a bad actor with his lines written on an enormous idiot board. Worse than that, he was standing in front of the idiot board, so that he couldn’t even read the lines!
He promised to keep the plinth in the back garden of Downing Street when elected. That said a lot. He had no intention of sticking the pledge outside Number 10 for the entire world’s press to see, but in the back garden where it could be conveniently forgotten, dumped up at the back wall next to the compost heap.
Furthermore, I reckon a lot of voters looked at the photo and decided they would rather vote for the lump of concrete than for Ed Miliband. At least the concrete looked slightly animated, and at least we knew what the lump of concrete stood for. Perhaps, Labour’s 2015 pledges will become known as the ‘longest gravestone in history’.
It says everything about how much Miliband had rated his own chances that on the Tuesday after polling day, he was photographed flying off to Ibiza. He was so confident of not winning that he’d already gone ahead and booked a holiday.
Up here in Scotland, there is little doubt that the highlight was the moment when 20-year-old Mhairi Black beat Labour’s campaign chief, Douglas Alexander, in Paisley. For a student barely out of her teens to so comprehensively defeat one of New Labour’s big guns was remarkable. Furthermore, looking at them both at the count, you got the feeling that if they’d had to settle it with a square-go, she’d have one that hands down too.
UKIP were left with only one MP, rather than the bucketload they had predicted. I think one explanation for this is that thousands of racists, bigots, and mentally-deranged xenophobes went back to doing what they’ve done for decades, namely, voting Conservative.
So how did the opinion polls get it so wrong in underestimating the Tory vote? The simple answer is that people lie to opinion polls, especially if they are planning to vote Conservative. Voting Tory is a bit like domestic abuse. No-one would ever own up to doing it, but statistics show it happens with disturbing regularity.
In the lead up to the election, Cameron warned voters not to vote Lib Dem, claiming ‘you never know what you’re going to get when you vote Liberal’. ‘Dead right’ thought all the people who voted Li-Dem in 2010 and ended up with a Tory government.
So, now we have five more years of Cameron on his own, without any restraint on unleashing his evil side. I find Cameron more sinister than Thatcher. At least you knew where you stood with Thatcher. She made no secret of the fact that she hated the working class, hated the unions, and hated Scotland. Cameron’s re-branding of the Tories saw him ‘hugging hoodies’ and claiming he listened to Radiohead. You’d never have seen Thatcher kissing a punk, and claiming she was a fan of the Sex Pistols.
Yet, it was Cameron who brought in the bedroom tax, a law more draconian than anything Thatcher did – not that she wouldn’t have approved of feckless old people with too many rooms being forced out of their homes. How ironic that she herself had to move out of her nine-bedroomed mansion in Belgravia to spend the last few months of her life in the squalor of the Ritz Hotel.
Vladimir McTavish will be appearing in ‘So That’s How We Voted?’ at The Stand Comedy Club (proprietor Tommy Sheppard MP) in Edinburgh Wednesday 17th June and Glasgow on Monday 22nd June, see www.thestand.co.uk