There has been a plethora of predictions and declarations concerning the outcome of the June 8th snap election and with time many of these musings will be rightfully ridiculed but there is one such utterance we can all announce total conviction: a party the vast majority of the UK electorate didn’t vote for will end up in power.
According to most pundits and commentators as well as the much maligned pollsters, this election is the Conservatives’ to lose, despite Labour under Corbyn clawing back much of the twenty point deficit that was being banded about before the surprise vote was called.
Nevertheless, it is important to stress that when people talk about the Tories winning the election and forming a majority, they are only doing so in reference to the House of Commons.
No Conservative politician or sympathetic pundit thinks the party will get anywhere close to a majority of votes in June. In fact, they’d all be overjoyed if Theresa May managed to bring in just 40 cent of votes cast.
After all, there were scenes of jubilation after Cameron managed to win a slender majority in the Commons in May 2015 and that came with less than 11.4 million votes out of an electorate of 46.4 million.
Of course, voter turnout was a mere 66.1 per cent which means that if you factor in all those on the electoral register who didn’t take part in the election and the many who didn’t even register to vote, Cameron was able to form a “majority” with the support of less than a quarter of the UK’s adult population.
The fact a party can gain near total control of the country with such little public backing is important to remember for two reasons:
This is not to say that it is easy to obtain said millions of votes, after all, no party has done so since 1997 when Tony Blair received more than 13.5 million (still less than John Mayor in 1992 who received more than 14 million votes – making him the most “popular” leader of all time), but it can most definitely be done.
In fact, Tony Blair, alongside his resounding success in 1997, holds the distinction of having been able to form a “majority” in the Commons with less than 10 million votes, something he achieved in 2005.
Back then of course voter turnout was a paltry 61.4 per cent and the UK’s population was also smaller than it is today, but the fact remains that if you can get around a quarter of the UK’s population to support your political effort, you’ll very likely find yourself in the Commons with a comfortable majority.
This time round such a result would enable the Tories be able to ram home any legislation they fancied, from the further privatisation of the NHS to more draconian austerity measures and larger subsidies to the arms trade.
Yet if that is to be the case, don’t be fooled into believing that the “majority” of the country voted for such measures. In reality, no party, be it Labour or the Tories, has ever come close to getting the nod from more than half the electorate. That’s just not how politics works in the UK.