General Election 2015: An FTI Consulting Briefing Paper
Thursday 7 May will see the country head to polling stations in what has been labelled “the most unpredictable election since 1974”. Much like that election, the electorate is likely to wake up the next morning with no clear result and a hung Parliament. Frenzied political negotiations between parties will ensue to determine the next tenant of Downing Street.
In 1974, as a twenty five year old Labour activist, I watched the Conservatives fail to convert consistently favourable polls into a seat majority despite winning a greater share of the vote than Labour. The SNP doubled its share of the popular vote and sent seven MPs to Westminster. Key issues of contention between the parties were immigration, the recent entry to the EEC and a clear commitment to “immediately seek a fundamental re-negotiation of the terms of [that] entry”, all of which bear remarkable similarity to the current state of affairs.
Since then the environment has changed. Voters’ tribal loyalties to the two major parties have been eroded, with new parties rising and, sometimes, rapidly falling. Trust in the political establishment has been dented by repeated scandal, and over the past five years a stable coalition government has reassured voters that hung Parliaments need not mean chaos. New political forces to be reckoned with have emerged, eroding the Conservative/Labour domination of Westminster and influencing the policy directions of “mainstream” parties.