Friday 8 May 2015

General Election 2015

The election results are in and, contrary to opinion polls, a Conservative government has been returned albeit with  a majority of 12 - see BBC Election Results for the detail.  An overall majority avoids the need for consideration of what will happen in a "hung" Parliament - though it was an interesting topic discussed here and here. The Liberal Democrats have just 8 seats and they seem to have paid a very heavy price for being in the coalition alongside the Conservatives.  The Labour Party emerged as the second largest party in the House of Commons but they have only a single seat in Scotland - (Scottish results) - having lost to the Scottish National Party (SNP).  Interestingly, the SNP leader  (Nicola Sturgeon) did not stand for a seat and so their 56 members will not have her to lead them in the House of Commons. Nicola Sturgeon holds the office of First Minister in the Scottish government.

Northern Ireland has returned 18 Members of Parliament and Wales has returned 40 MPs.  UK Parliament - Current State of the Parties

Proportional representation?

The election results
will be seen as particularly harsh by those keen to have some form of proportional representation.  The Conservatives have achieved a majority of 12 on 36.9% of the vote.  In the past, governments with overall majorities have not shown interest in proportional representation and I suspect that the Conservative government will be no exception to that.  Also, it was the now much reduced Liberal Democrats who were the keenest on it.

Note: In 2011, the electorate chose to stick with first past the post rather than adopt the Alternative Vote (AV) system; though AV is not a form of proportional representation (see Electoral Reform Society).

How the House of Commons would have looked under a form of proportional representation - BBC NEWS 9th May 2015

Constituency Boundaries:

Reform of the House of Lords was another Liberal Democrat aim but this was abandoned, somewhat acrimoniously, with the result that the Liberal Democrats acted to defer a review of constituency boundaries . The detail is on the Boundary Commission for England website where it is stated that:

'The Commission currently plans to formally begin working on the next review in the spring of 2016, with the intention of submitting its final recommendations to government by the early autumn of 2018, as required by the legislation.'

If boundary changes are considered to be favourable to the Conservatives, they are likely to be very unfavourable to Scotland.

Access to Justice:

In the legal field, the coalition came down hard on access to justice and, in particular, civil legal aid - Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (or LASPO).  The Secretary of State for Justice in the coalition (Mr Chris Grayling) had plans to reduce markedly the number of criminal legal aid contracts.  It seems likely that these will remain on the agenda and they will be vehemently opposed by the legal profession - see Law Society Criminal Legal Aid.  .

Human rights:

It is with human rights protection that there must now be considerable concern.  The Conservatives set out their plans for human rights (including repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998) in their election manifesto - discussed here. Very broadly speaking, the Conservatives plan to remain within the European Convention on Human Rights which, as a treaty, would (as now) bind the UK in international law.  There would be a British Bill of Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998 would be repealed - ('scrapped' in the emotive language of the Conservative manifesto).  All the detail of this has yet to emerge though the legally illiterate proposals in the autumn of 2014 may offer a clue.

European Union:

UK Membership of the European Union is to be put to the electorate in a referendum.  Legislation for this has yet to appear but it was a clear Conservative manifesto promise.  The referendum is to take place after a period of renegotiation of the UK's relationship with the EU.  A difficult issue will be "freedom of movement" which is seen as making immigration control difficult.


Devolution to Scotland will have to be addressed and further legislation to devolve power is likely early in this new Parliament.  On this, see Scotland - an Enduring Settlement January 2015.  Although the SNP has been at some pains to state that this election was NOT about Scottish Independence - (on which a referendum was held in Scotland in 2014) - it seems unlikely that the topic is going to go away.  After all, as someone said to me the other day, the clue is in the Party name !!


Then, there is the difficult question of "English votes for English laws" (EVEL).  England does not have a separate Parliament and currently Scots MPs may vote on questions of English law even when those matters are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.  This is widely seen as unfair and will have to be addressed in some way though it is likely to be more difficult than the slogan suggests.


Mr Cameron may now form a new government and will not require to appoint from any other party.  On appointments, please see - Number 10 Downing Street - Prime Minister and Ministerial appointments.  

Clearly, a most interesting time lies ahead and should offer much meat to observers and commentators alike. 


The Independent 9th May - Unshackled from coalition partners, Tories get ready to push radical agenda

BBC News - Sturgeon says Scotland voted for change

British Institute of Human Rights - What have human rights ever done for you?


  1. To be clear, Alternative Vote is not a form of proportional representation. Best regards, Ben

    1. Thank you and agreed. Post amended to clarify.