Category Archives: General elections

How did the Tories win a majority?

By Stephen Fisher

The election outcome was a shocking defeat for Labour and a remarkable victory for the Tories, both relative to expectations from the opinion polls and considering that you have to go back to Salisbury in 1900 to find an instance of a Prime Minister increasing their share of the vote after being in power for more than 18 months. Overall Labour will be just a point up on the abysmal 30% of the GB vote that Gordon Brown achieved in 2010. Moreover Labour are down from 258 seats to 232 (-26).

So how did why did Labour do so badly and how did the Tories manage to increase their vote share and seat tally after five years of cuts and practically zero growth in GNP per person, even if there has been debt stabilisation and some relative good headline growth and jobs figures over the last year? Continue reading How did the Tories win a majority?

Coalition-directed voting comes to Britain?

by Stephen Fisher

This a slightly longer and more detailed version of a post at

David Cameron has argued that a Labour government dependent on SNP support would mean “total chaos”. But the Conservatives are not clear about what they want the voters in Scotland to do about it, and they have failed to mention that coalition-directed voting in England and Wales might be more effective than voting Conservative or Labour. Continue reading Coalition-directed voting comes to Britain?

Links between economics and nationalism at this election

By Stephen Fisher

This is an edited version of a piece for The Cherwell.

As with any election, the one on May 7th is about lots of different issues and different things for different people. The factors that will affect the outcome are more numerous and varied still. Nonetheless many commentators are afflicted by a chronic temptation to try to define what particular elections are really all about.

Two main themes stand out this time: the economy and nationalism. The economic contest is between ideological positions on the size and role of the state as well as over competence in macro-economic management. For nationalism the relationships between Scotland and the UK and between the UK and EU are the main issues. Continue reading Links between economics and nationalism at this election

Liberal Democrats after the election: a left of centre party which should be able to work more easily with Labour than the Conservatives

by Stephen Fisher and Eilidh Macfarlane

At the 2010 election Liberal Democrat MPs, members and voters were all more social liberal than economic liberal (using both terms in their traditional British not American sense) i.e. left rather than right of centre. But their leaders, especially Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and David Laws are further to the right than most of their party. In his book 5 Days in May, Andrew Adonis goes so far as to argue that the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition with the Conservatives rather than Labour not because of the parliamentary arithmetic was considerably better but instead because Nick Clegg and David Laws especially were ideologically closer and personally warmer to the Tories than to Labour. Continue reading Liberal Democrats after the election: a left of centre party which should be able to work more easily with Labour than the Conservatives

Salutary lessons from the Israeli election polls 2015

by Stephen Fisher

Publishing polls in the last five days before an election is illegal in Israel, so the final pre-election polls were published on 13th March. They suggested that Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party would get around 22 seats to 25 for the Zionist Union (the alliance between Labor and Haunuah, led by Issac Herzog and Tzipi Livni).

The exit polls yesterday suggested 27 each.

The actual result was 30 for Likud and 24 for the Zionist Union. Continue reading Salutary lessons from the Israeli election polls 2015

The public-private electoral divide

by Stephen Fisher

Janan Ganesh in today’s FT is right to point to trends in public sector employment as an import factor in understanding the political future of Britain. He notes that, “The public sector headcount has fallen by about 1m since the last election to 5.4m, which is where it was before Labour’s expansion commenced in 2000. […] Meanwhile, private-sector employment has risen and the self-employed account for a record 15 per cent of the labour force. The confluence of fiscal policy and economic trends is creating a looser, more individualised economy. This does not guarantee that the electorate will become less receptive to collectivist ideas, but it requires no feat of imagination to see how it might.”

As well as the electorate as a whole becoming less collectivist with a smaller state there is also a more simple mechanism at play. For obvious reasons, private sector workers have long been more likely to vote Conservative and public sector workers more Labour. The more of the former and the fewer there are of the latter the easier it will be for the Tories to win elections. Continue reading The public-private electoral divide

Labour’s tuition fee cut promise and the student vote

Stephen Fisher, 27th February 2015

Today Ed Miliband announced that a Labour government would cut university tuition fees from £9000 to £6000 a year.

In December the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) published a report I co-authored showing that the student vote seemed to respond to the changing pattern of generosity of party policies on higher education funding since 1997. Most notably in 2001, 2005, and 2010 the Liberal Democrats did particularly well among students by offering the most generous package.

But this does not mean that Labour will reap big rewards for their promise today. Continue reading Labour’s tuition fee cut promise and the student vote