Focus on Elections: David Cameron, Labour Party Prevail
By Abby Shamray
The United Kingdom will be holding general parliamentary elections on May 7. Polls show no clear winner, but according to Bloomberg Business, chaos is most likely to ensue. Unlike the 2010 election for Prime Minister when David Cameron was able to successfully create a two-party coalition for two terms, analysts are predicting that there will be a chance that as many as seven minorities can take seats. In the meantime, those minorities are focusing on getting support from each other in order to create a clear majority for the five year fixed term.
The polling company YouGov Plc shows that the party currently in power, the Conservatives, is at 32 percent support while the main opposition, the Labour Party, is at 34 percent. The anti-immigration UK Independence Party is at 15 percent. The Conservative party’s coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, are at eight percent with the Greens following a few points behind. There has been little variance in the past few months.
Rob Ford, a politics lecturer at Manchester University, said, “If the polls are right, it’ll be a total mess. Every single vote in Parliament is going to need constant wheedling to get it over the line. You could be having regular confidence votes, with games of brinkmanship on both sides.” No matter the outcome, the influence on foreign policy and the influence by exterior powers cannot be denied.
In February, analysts at Bank of America Corp. were already forecasting certain instability, both politically and economically, following any scenario played out in terms of parliamentary makeup. Based on the advice of various investment strategists such as Steve Barrow, the head of Group 10 strategy at Standard Bank Plc in London, investors have been hedging sterling investments. Experts are predicting that the pound will be weaker even past the political uncertainty of the elections.
If the makeup of Parliament proves to be as scattered as polls predict, the decision-making abilities of the world’s sixth largest economy could be greatly hampered. Additionally, the UK is one of the U.S.’s biggest allies, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a nuclear power, and one of the biggest advocates for sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Depending on the outcome of the election, the Scottish independence movement could make new advances if Labour is in the majority. If the Conservatives maintain their hold, Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold a referendum on UK membership of the EU.
UBS Group AG, a financial services company, speculated earlier this year that a Labour-led government might pose risks to some industries such as banking, utilities, and transportation services like bus operators. Traditionally pro-Europe, leaders in the past have expressed interest in having the UK adopt the Euro. The Labour Party’s support of the EU’s financial regulations could also be one of the reasons opponents see Labour as an economic threat. Conservatives advocate for softening regulations because they are perceived to be threat to London’s financial services industry.
On the other hand, UBS Group AG also warned of the referendum on EU membership would cause “broader uncertainty.” While the Conservatives have been split between pro-Europe and Euroseptic in the past, the increasing desire for the UK to split from Europe has been amplified by the rise of the UK Independence Party, which has taken the most voters away from the Conservatives than any other minority party.
YouGov President Peter Kellner predicted that the Conservatives, led by David Cameron, will get 293 seats and the Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, will get 270 seats. Both are short of the 326 seats necessary for a majority. Currently, the Conservatives rely on the Liberal Democrats to supplement them in votes, but Kellner predicts that they will lose about half their seats. The key to making decisions in Parliament will most likely be negotiation but without the Liberal Democrats to boost either major party, both party leaders will have to appeal to other parties.
Kellner speculated that Cameron and Milibrand will have to appeal to the pro-independence Scottish National Party, which he forecasted to get a record 30 seats. The SNP, though, has already said that it has no interest in joining a coalition, but did say it would back a Labour minority government in exchange for certain favors, the first being getting rid of the Trident nuclear-weapons system in a deep sea loch in western Scotland. Milibrand is unlikely to want to give up one of the UK’s central means of defense for the support of a group whose main objective is wanting to leave the UK.
Currently, polls indicate that Parliamentary seats will be split among the parties with no clear majority. Rather than having a clear vision of what the future might hold, each party has a clear stance on how they want the UK to react to important issues such as financial regulations and membership of the European Union, voters, politicians, and analysts are left to speculate what a feuding, indecisive Parliament might do for the UK’s stance as an influential state.