It has been a hectic few days. But let’s quickly recap the results:
Labour: Well, they lost, and substantially more so than in the other close election, 1992. Net loss of ninety seats; fifty seats behind the Conservatives and a vote share of under 30%, the worst support from the population since the heyday of electoral suicide notes in 1983.
Conservatives: The Conservatives had a following wind from the media. They had a financial crisis and a corruption scandal denting the reliability of the governing party; they were up against a personally unpopular prime minister; they had a new, charismatic – well, by Tory standards charismatic – leader and a party that had had almost fifteen years to recharge itself in opposition. And they failed to get to a majority, partly because they were still recovering from the utter catastrophe of 1997 and partly because the party simply still isn’t trusted by the country.
Liberal Democrats: competing against two rather inept main parties, they improved vote share by a mere 1%, and actually lost a number of seats – something that hasn’t happened for a long time.
The minor parties had an at best mixed night:
UKIP: 3% vote share, but lost 457 (!) deposits. Failed to gain any MPs, and – let us not forget – came within a whisker of their leader dying on polling day.
BNP: Two percent of the vote, but losing 80% of their deposits, and nowhere near the results needed to get any seats. The absolute number of voters was half that in the 2009 election – suggesting the core of nutters is strongly outweighed by the protest-vote element.
Greens: on the one hand, an MP! On the other hand, they lost 98% of their deposits, and actually polled fewer votes than last year.
SNP: stalled. No improvement on seat numbers; despite the potential benefits of status coming from local incumbency and the (perhaps vindicated) argument they could be key in a hung parliament, they didn’t pick up significant numbers of votes.
Plaid: lost vote share, no gains. I admit I do not know enough about the Welsh background to say more than this – but they lost a substantial share of the vote in the close marginal of Ceredigion, and fell back in Ynys Mon, both seats they must surely have hoped to take.
The one party who unquestioningly did do well was the Alliance in Belfast. Against that, Sinn Fein and the SDLP both lost vote share; the DUP lost one of their strongholds (and their leader!), and the UUP lost their only seat because the incumbent split from the party and ran as an independent.