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The Business Forum Journal


The British Election
The Biggest Shake Up in 100 years

By Daniel A. T. Dalton
Member of the European Parliament



No one expected the Elections outcome the United Kingdom woke up to on the 8th May, 2015.  Opinion polls for months had pointed to a dead heat; with the ruling Conservative party and the centre left Labour party opposition tied together in virtually every opinion poll.  Nothing that happened in the campaign would budge the polls. There would be a hung parliament they said, with no side able to get a majority in the House of Commons, and with the country condemned to weeks of uncertainty as both sides tried to cobble together some sort of government which would command such a majority.

However the British people obviously had different plans, and apparently kept their intentions hidden from the pollsters.  It was only when the first exit poll was announced that anyone had an inkling of what was about to happen.  It pointed to a commanding Conservative lead, but not quite enough to give it a majority. However that poll was also wrong, as the Conservatives ended with 331 of the 643 seats, nearly 37% of the vote. Subsequently the leaders of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) parties all quit leaving their parties in turmoil.

Most of this drama played out in England though, as in Scotland the Scottish National Party (SNP) managed to win all but three of the seats north of the border, leaving them with 56 seats and as the third biggest party.  The United Kingdom now has a parliament with two big winners. The Conservative party, centre right and dominant in England, and the centre left Scottish National Party in Scotland, whose biggest dream is independence for Scotland.

This election has shaken British politics and will define the country for the foreseeable future. Labour stood on a hard left platform, advocating tax rises, rent controls, energy price freezes, and unlimited welfare spending. They wholeheartedly believed the British people had had enough of capitalism. Yet despite telling the pollsters one thing, the British people in their millions quietly voted the other way in the safety of the polling station. The Labour party is now in turmoil, torn between the pro business New Labour vision espoused by Tony Blair, and the hard left vision pushed by the trades unions. The Liberal Democrats paid the penalty of being the junior coalition partner and were reduced from 57 seats to just 8, whilst the UKIP, the UK's version of the Tea Party, garnered nearly 4 million votes, but only one seat.

The turmoil these three parties are now engulfed in gives David Cameron and the Conservatives a golden opportunity to make the UK globally competitive. Big challenges are ahead. The UK will now have a referendum on whether or not to stay in the European Union and the SNP are likely to push for a new referendum on Scottish independence. The United Kingdom still has one of the biggest current account deficits in the G7 and a very substantial national debt. It's productivity rate is one of the lowest in the developed world.

However despite these challenges, it now has a stable government which is committed to aspiration, growth and to private sector business led recovery, something very few people were predicting two weeks ago.

Daniel Dalton is a Fellow of The Business Forum Institute and he became a Member of the European Parliament in January 2015, representing the West Midlands region of the United Kingdom for the Conservative Party.  For some years prior to that he was an Agriculture specialist, focused on European agricultural policy and the reform process of the Common Agriculture Policy.  Daniel is a graduate of both Coventry and Warwick Universities. For many years he managed his own sports coaching business and was a professional cricketer for Warwickshire County Cricket Club.  As an MEP Daniel is focused on ensuring the West Midlands diverse interests are represented in Brussels and in Strasbourg The West Midlands is a centre of manufacturing, as well as having a large service sector and being world famous as an area of horticultural excellence.  He sits on the Internal Markets and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament, where he has been appointed as the Coordinator (lead negotiator) for the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group.  The focus of the IMCO committee is on creating a truly single market throughout the European Union and upon breaking down barriers to trade which many companies often experience when trading across Europe.

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