"A Very British Transition" - A Post-Junta Britain TL

2016 General Election, Part 1

The election sat in the middle of a global populist storm

“Many still hope the populist threat will fade. William Hague, thinks he can ride to re-election later this year on the back of an economic recovery, despite the pounding that his National Party is taking in the polls. Fractious and amateurish, some populist parties may melt away once they try their hand at governance. But others have shown staying power. Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom is now part of the political furniture in the Netherlands. Populists can also help keep the established parties honest. Voters troubled by immigration, bail-outs or austerity need channels for their concerns. The People’s Party may be led by Gramsci-wielding ideologues, but many of the youngsters who make up much of its base are motivated by a more homely concern. “What’s up? We still don’t have a house!” runs a favoured chant.”
- Part of the furniture, The Economist (2016)

The fact the Hague administration had survived a full four year term was a minor miracle. Built on unstable foundations of a three way deal between National, Reform and the SNP, the Hague government had implemented unpopular austerity whilst facing down corruption scandals and internal splits. Both of the supporting parties had stayed loyal to their confidence and supply deal, despite the SNP losing its position as Scotland’s largest party and Reform facing electoral oblivion in the polls. Despite being personally unpopular, Hague had managed to stay in control of National through shrewd deals and careful party management, with no clear successor as leader.

Hague also benefited from the weakness of his opposition, going through three SDP leaders since ascending to Downing Street with the most recent leader Andy Burnham facing loud criticism within his own party and struggling with the rising support of the People’s Party. Attempts to unite the left of British politics had seen mixed results, whilst the People’s Party and Socialist Alternative had agreed a Ribiero-Addy coalition named the “United People’s Alliance”, this had been rejected by RISE, Forward Wales and the Workers Party - citing the UPA’s federalist, rather than separatist political positions. Political fragmentation was the main theme of opposition to National with five parties running a effective national campaign and dozens of smaller parties in the nations and regions.


The OutRage movement had broken politics

Polling at the start of the short campaign showed National in the lead with 28% of the vote, with a three way battle for the silver medal with the UPA on 23%, SDP on 20% and Unity on 16%. Both Reform and the Centrists were polling around 2%, meaning they would struggle to get into Parliament, with Reform crushed by its alliance with National and squeezed by Unity for the centrist vote, whilst the Centrists were damaged by the assassination of of Akala and the expulsion of Godfrey Bloom. In Scotland, RISE called the election a “last chance” for a multilateral, legal independence referendum, calling for Scottish voters to deliver Patrick Harvie a strong mandate to take to Westminster.

“The SNP must contend with tensions within its own party organisation on the issue of unilateral independence. Whilst the majority liberal faction of the SNP, has come to embrace this constitutional goal, its smaller conservative faction is opposed to a unilateral referendum. Voters don't like divided parties and a poor result for the SNP could lead to a party split over this issue. There is little doubt that in the coming months, British politics will be dominated by the constitutional question. What is less clear is the extent to which the Scottish sovereignty movement will be able to secure the response it wants from voters in July. Whatever the outcome, Scots look set to have to endure yet another year of wrangling over the future governance of their nation.” - The challenge for pro-independence parties ahead of the 2016 elections, Lecture by Anwen Elias, LSE (2016)

Hague’s main pitch to the public was economic recovery and stability, pointing towards Britain’s stabilising economy and the repayment of Troika debts telling a rally in Coventry “we’ve shown the British people we can make tough decisions”. Hague also warned of growing instability, highlighting Britain had - for the first time ever - four parties polling above 15%. National campaigns warned of a hard-left coalition of chaos led by the UPA where dozens of squabbling parties would struggle to get anything passed. With the Greek Syriza Government hitting a rocky patch, National Party strategists were keen to squash the growing radical left insurgency.


A strong result for separatist parties would bolster the case for a unilateral referendum

Andy Burnham and the opposition meanwhile made corruption a central plank of their campaign, with the Rupert Harrison inquiry conveniently expected to deliver it’s findings after the election, Burnham hammered home the need for radical constitutional overhaul, including more power for regions, stronger checks on MPs and a more proportional voting system. Burnham also needed to squeeze the progressive votes leaking on his left and right, reminding voters the SDP was the only party that could realistically challenge National’s hegemony. The Social Democrats were especially pushing to retake Britain's cities where the UPA dominated, appealing to younger and ethnic minority voters, as well as the SDP’s core base in the towns and smaller cities of Northern England.

With four parties competing for Downing Street the chance of a clear majority was becoming increasingly slim - thus talk naturally moved to post election coalitions - however after several years of animosity none of the party leaders were in the mood to compromise. With all four having at least a slim chance of winning the Prime Ministership, none wanted to accept the need for coalition and thus make them look weak and weaken their claim to the top job. All four parties would claim they were fighting to win and refused to answer when journalists pushed them on this issue. The biggest beneficiary of this was National, with the Centrists on the run their right-wing flank was secure, and Hague could make a reasonable claim to be the man with the best chance of forming a stable majority.

“William Hague has said he does not want to speculate about any possible pact or offer he might make to Unity after July’s general election. He told the BBC Radio’s Today Program on Wednesday that “all the parties are tied at zero” until the election, and avoided talk of any deal with Alan Sugar. Unity is the only political force expected to garner the results on July 1st with which National would consider a post-election deal. For his part, Sugar said on Wednesday that he was against signing any deal with either National or the SDPs. “Brits need a new government,” he said. “Neither Hague nor Burnham represent that change.” The latest opinion poll carried out by YouGov shows the National winning between 169 and 173 MPs. The UPA are predicted to place second, earning between 121 and 124 MPs, with the SDP third (114 to 116 seats).” - PM steers clear of post-election pacts talk, BBC News Bulletin (2016)


National led in the polls but had few viable coalition partners
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2016 General Election, Part 2

Hague's approval ratings had climbed over the campaign

“A 17-year-old man was arrested in Pontefract on Wednesday night after landing a heavy punch in the face of Prime Minister William Hague. The impact of the blow left the National Party candidate for re-election with broken glasses and a visible bruise on the left side of his face. The assailant approached the PM while he was campaigning on the streets of the West Yorkshire town, to take a selfie with the politician. But he struck Hague with a huge amount of force, taking him completely by surprise. Shortly after the incident, Hague made a statement in the street, saying: “I’m fine, very well, no problem at all.” Later on, the prime minister posted a message on his official Twitter account, saying: “We continue to work.” The prime minister had spent half-an-hour on the streets of Pontefract, having visited a bakery owned by a friend.”
- PM punched in face while on campaign trail, BBC News Bulletin (2016)

Assaults on the sitting Prime Minister were somewhat of a tradition for British politics, in 2009 Alan Johnson had been nearly blown up after a failed bomb attack on a regional party office. An optimist could say it was a sign of Britain’s maturity, that over the course of the election campaign, the worst thing that happened to Hague was simple assault. Whilst touring the West Yorkshire town of Pontefract alongside Development Secretary Jonathon Oates, Hague was attacked by an unarmed teenager, who got a few good punches to Hague’s temple before being dragged away by security. The defining image of the campaign was Hague laughing off the attack before entering a local pub.

Whilst Hague received an outpouring of support from domestic and international politicians, among most security forces the main feeling was relief, with many concerned an attack on a major party leader was imminent. The attack on Hague also gave an excuse for Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and a Hague ally to wade into the election debate. At a joint press conference in Brussels after a European Council meeting Merkel strongly expressed her concerns on the UPA becoming Britain's leading party, warning a Britain led by the radical left would find itself isolated on the European stage, the unspoken implication being Merkel was giving her backing to Hague and the National Party.

Merkel’s support did help the stable, calm and rational campaign Hague was trying to run, it also damaged Unity’s campaign who were trying to pitch themselves as the party of Europe. Unity was trailing in fourth place between the four main parties as Sugar’s gruff mannerisms and autocratic control of his party turned off many potential supporters. The amateurish nature of the party - being only a few years old - meant it had no internal structures or vetting, with several parliamentary candidates having to step aside for misplaced tweets or accusations of corruption. Unity increasingly became the Alan Sugar party as other Unity politicians, including the popular Ruth Davidson were sidelined.


Hardliner and Trotskyist elements of the UPA would turn on the party leadership

The UPA also faced internal divisions but for the opposition reason. Whilst Unity was criticised for it’s all-powerful leader, the UPA seemed rudderless. Due to it’s ultra-democratic internal structures, with Leader Ribeiro-Addy acting as a figurehead rather than a leader, with no real internal power the party would frequently break out into internal battles. One major internal battle would be on the issue of NATO, in one interview the party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Clive Lewis would declare the coalition’s support for the alliance, only to be later contradicted by the party's Defence Spokesperson Kate Hudson. These splits and contradictions would repeat themselves across the country with local branches and candidates all seemingly fighting on different manifestos, from communists, to anarchists to social democrats the UPA had no uniting policy programme.

“So far left-wing city halls appear to have delivered limited change beyond symbolic acts. The Union of Tenants has criticised its old comrades now running Brighton for not doing enough to stop evictions. Alternative MPs have often adapted to the ways and means of People's Party reformism. for example excusing Ribeiro-Addy's handpicking of a pro-NATO soldier as future Foreign Secretary. This has led to splits and expulsions of revolutionaries from the Trotskyist grouping of the Alternative. Another weakness at all levels of the new parties has been a tendency to neglect debate over policy. Ken Livingstone has written of the urgent need to develop an alternative program to the failed hope of “concessions from the troika''. Yet there is little evidence that the UPA grassroots are having this discussion.” - For the People?, Luke Stobart, Jacobin (2016)

With the insurgent parties losing momentum, Hague decided to go on the attack, with Daesh terror attacks in Europe and increasingly tense standoffs with Edinburgh dominating headlines, Hague pushed for a rally-round-the-flag affect. Hague warned of “three headed beast” of terrorism in the UK, namely radical Scottish Nationalists, Islamists and the Far-Right. Hague warned the UPA, with it’s liberal approach to terrorism and immigration, as well as it’s support for a British federation would embolden terrorism and put the British people at risk; “when it comes to terrorism, Britain doesn’t need experiments” said one party political broadcast.


The SDP hoped to be the tortoise to the UPA's hare

Ribiero-Addy met these attacks head on, confirming if she was elected to Downing Street on July 1st she would allow a legally binding referendum on Scottish Independence - the only national party leader to do so. With uncertainty dominating the mood of the election, with nearly a quarter of Brits undecided, the UPA needed every vote they could get, even if this meant “poaching” votes from fellow left-wing parties. Ribeiro-Addy remained the radical-left’s greatest asset, with the highest approval rating of all four major leaders, far beyond her party’s public approval. Whilst the UPA had slipped in the polls over the election campaign, UPA strategists hedged their bets on a strong performance from their leader on the campaign trail.

Whilst Ribiero-Addy was loud and bombastic, holding massive rallies in cities across the country, her rival for the left-wing vote Andy Burnham was running a much more subdued campaign. At intimate campaign stops in pubs, community centres and town halls Burnham tried to shore up support for his stalling campaign. The SDP’s campaign had started out by ignoring the UPA, and had become increasingly aggressive in it’s campaign, with negative attack ads targeting UPA/SDP swingers in the cities. The SDP drew unflattering comparisons to the faltering Syriza government in Greece and the increasingly authoritarian populist-left governments in South America. Whilst the aggressive campaign might win Burnham more votes, he was burning any remaining bridges to the UPA camp. With all four parties at each other's throats, a stable Government seemed less and less likely.

“The People's Party earthquake has already shattered the status quo, forcing the SDP into electing a young new leader – Andy Burnham. Some polls make the UPA Brian's most popular party, but it cannot enter government without seeking coalition allies. That may force it into opposition. “Hopefully the UPA would be willing to work with us,” former SDP minister Iain McNicol told me in Brussels in December. “But so far, I perceive a threatening mix of arrogance, self-infatuation and condescension.” It is tempting to see the UPA as a well-planned operation by a group of talented academics, but that would be too simple. It is the result of an open-ended effort by unorthodox idealists to effect change, with a desire to test out their ideas in the real world. As it attempts to forge a new consensus, it is drifting away from its radical roots.” - How a small group of radical academics changed European politics, Giles Tremlett, The Guardian (2016)


The UPA particularly worried Brussels insiders
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2016 General Election Reader's Poll
Hi everyone,

Once again we'll be holding a readers poll for you lovely people to decide who you'd vote for at the 2016 General Election. The results won't directly affect the plot of the TL but may affect Easter eggs, news quotes and things like that.

You can vote here!
2016 Election Debate
Insults fly as UK election debate erupts into row

CNBC Bulletin


Britain's election debate exploded into an angry row on Monday when the opposition leader accused William Hague of not being a “decent” man.

The humdrum election campaign burst into drama when SDP leader Andy Burnham attacked Hague over corruption. A red-faced Hague rejected his charges.

“If you continue to be prime minister, the cost for our democracy will be enormous, because the prime minister, Mr. Hague, has to be a decent person and you are not,” Burnham said in a televised debate watched by millions.

“You are young. You are going to lose these elections,” Hague, 55, told his 45-year-old rival. “You can recover from an election loss, but you can’t recover from the contemptible, mean and despicable statement you have made here today.”

“I am an honourable politician, at least as honourable as you,” Hague said.

The debate was a late chance for both men to bolster their support in the face of an unprecedented challenge from new parties.

Britain’s economy is picking up after a severe economic and banking crisis but unemployment remains over 20 percent.

Polls show Hague's party ahead but short of a parliamentary majority, while new parties, UPA and Unity challenge the SDP for second place.

Many voters remain undecided, but the most likely outcome appears a coalition or minority government.

Burnham touched on a corruption case that erupted in 2013 when National collected millions in cash donations from a construction magnate. Hague has denied that he or the National Party had accepted illegal payments.

Burnham told Hague he should have resigned.

“Nobody has ever accused me of appropriating anything,” an angry Hague shot back. “I don’t devote myself to politics for money, Mr. Burnham.”

"We are ashamed about the corruption, and we have approved the most important plan since Britain returned to democracy to deal with it. There will be no impunity,” he added.

Burnham also accused Hague of lying by saying the UK had avoided a bailout under his tenure. While the UK dodged a sovereign bailout in 2012, it did receive around 60 billion euros in European aid for its nationalised banks.

In response, the National Party leader focused on the government’s handling of the economic crisis since taking office in 2012.

“The only way that Hague is leaving office is if the SDP win,” said Burnham, claiming his party alone could “lead the country to change.”

The Prime Minister defended his government’s handling of the crisis, particularly when Britain came close to having the ECB intervene in restructuring it's economy. “It’s easy to see that you weren’t here four years ago,” he said at one point. He also highlighted Burnham's lack of experience in office: “Talking is easy, governing is very difficult.”

The pair also discussed the EU assessment of Britain’s economic situation, which is due to be released this week. The assessment reportedly calls for continued austerity measures after the July 1st election.

Burnham called for a renegotiation of the conditions imposed by the EU on Britain after the elections.

The two politicians also outlined their party’s views on independence for Scotland. Hague called for “respect for the Union” making it clear that his party did not support changes to the law or a referendum. Burnham said that Constitutional reform was needed before the issue could be resolved.

Hague turned down invitations to take part in debates with the up-and-coming parties, agreeing only to debate with Burnham. British media said it may be the last time that only National and the SDP take part in an election debate.

Bell Ribiero-Addy, leader of anti-austerity UPA, said the debate was an anachronism. “It was a debate in black and white, we have seen something that forms part of the past. The two-party system no longer exists.” she said.

Alan Sugar, leader of Unity, also declared the two-party system finished.

The debate organisers have been criticised for excluding Britain's two emerging parties.

Residents of London said they were disappointed with the debate, with one calling the two leaders a “disaster.”

“Hague and Burnham did everything possible to make people realise what a disaster the leaders of this country are. They made people think the solution can be elsewhere, in UPA or in Unity or somewhere else. But what I saw last night made me realise that trusting them will be difficult.”
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2016 General Election, Part 3

In total, ten people were killed in various incidents throughout the campaign

“In Manchester, Britain’s third-largest city, the accuser and the accused of the Junta are still honoured side by side, at least on its street map. One of the avenues here is named after Julian Tudor-Hart, a prominent doctor and socialist. Running parallel to the avenue is a street named after another doctor, Andrew Wakefield, a juntista who testified against Tudor-Hart, leading to his death. On Friday, it will be 30 years since the death of Louis Mountbatten, but there will be no official commemorations. The street names and other symbols stand as a failure of this maturing democracy to grapple with Mountbatten's legacy to this day. The shadow of Mountbatten continues to be a potent source of division between right and left, despite his death.”
- Junta Legacy Continues to Divide UK’s Politics and Its Streets, Raphael Minder, New York Times (2016)

The debate between the two main party leaders showed a deadlock with 49% of watchers declaring Burnham the winner compared to Hague’s 46% in snap polls after the debate. Still the two party debate polls showed support for third parties falling as internal spats pushed both the UPA and Unity down in voter’s estimation. The UPA’s pledge to hold a Scottish Referendum seemed to backfire as polls showed the party losing support in England whilst failing to make up for these losses among Scottish voters. National Party attack ads against the UPA, RISE and SNP were particularly brutal, and seemingly very effective as Ribiero-Addy was forced onto the back-foot.

The rural/urban continued to grow over the course of the campaign as polls showed rural voters remaining loyal to the duopoly whilst city voters abandoned them in droves. Polling in London showed National and the SDP falling into third and fourth place respectively as the capital gave their support to the insurgent parties. Polling from Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds showed a similar result as National was pushed to the suburbs and the SDP was obliterated entirely. Polarisation became the name of the game as polls showed the SDP retreating to it’s northern heartlands whilst National was pushed into southern citadels, with voters increasingly polarised along provincial lines.

In the face of this polarisation, National’s lead began to increase as voters turned to the party best placed to bring the country back together. With National attack campaigns being demonstrably effective, other parties joined in on negative campaign attacks. National also made a final push for older voters, with Hague announcing a last-minute pledge - promising to scrap income tax for those who kept working over 65. With the strong support of older voters, Hague was likely to be the leader of the largest party, second place was still up for grabs as the SDP and UPA spared for second place, with Unity not far behind.


Calls for a grand coalition were slammed as a Hague stitch-up

Hague also benefited from a surge in postal voters, mostly National, as the election took place during the peak school holiday season whilst many wealthier Brits were away on holiday. With Hague’s lead solidifying, talk began to move to coalition partners, especially in the case of a UPA led opposition. Hague could turn to either Unity, the SDP or a mixture of smaller parties. Some pundits warned if the UPA had a particularly strong result then the three parties of the centre would be forced together to keep Ribiero-Addy out in a government of national unity. Of course such a pact would echo Mountbatten’s more forceful coalition forming in 1968.

“National's Deputy Leader ruling party has said the party would consider forming a grand coalition "in the German style" with the SDP. Speaking to the BBC Theresa May said, "We would contemplate a grand coalition in the German style if we could not reach a majority". Germany is no stranger to grand coalitions; Angela Merkel, governs with the support of social democrats. May's comments come in the wake of the unstoppable rise of the United People Alliance which has seen a huge surge in popularity this year. The joint list, less than a year old, has topped some polls of voter intentions published by the Sun and Daily Mail. The UPA recently announced it planned to introduce a 35-hour working week, and a guaranteed living 'subsidy'.” - National ‘won’t rule out’ grand coalition, BBC News Bulletin (2016)

The unemployed, numbering a fifth of voters, would decide this election. With all campaigns targeting the unwieldy block in the last days of the campaign. Whilst the SDP pledged to tackle National corruption and invest in high-quality jobs, National warned a socialist government under a SDP/UPA coalition would trash the economy and push Britain back into recession - “just look at Greece was a popular phrase by National candidates in local hustings”. Polling reflected National’s divided record, when YouGov asked respondents to describe National in one word the most popular phrase was “competent”, followed by “corrupt”, with many respondents offering both words. Voters were falling in line behind the devil they knew.


A strong majority for anyone seemed impossible

Whilst polling day itself was fairly quiet, with only a handful of polling stations closing due to violence or intimidation, the mood was still apprehensive. The voters have been pushed into stark voting blocks, divided on age, education, location and values, whoever won the election would have a hard time making the United Kingdom governable again. The worst case scenario for both Brussels and civil servants would be an inconclusive result. Analysts feared a hung parliament followed by a series of snap elections and short lived cabinets, eurocrats worried Britain could become the next Italy, with dozens of parties and an ungovernable Parliament.

With Trump to the West, Trispas to the East and Le Pen rising to the South, Britain was in the eye of the storm as people turned out to vote on a roasting July day. Student cities like Leeds and Brighton showed young people moving in droves to vote before holding impromptu barbecues and street parties, a good sign for the political left. As the last ballots were posted and the polls closed, sweating politicians gathered in poorly ventilated arenas and leisure centres to hear their fate decided. It had been a long, hot summer and everyone knew what hot summers led to - if the politicians couldn’t get a workable solution to Britain's ills - the rioting would start.

“In what is presumably their penultimate general election poll Ipsos MORI have topline figures of NAT 30%, UPA 25%, SDP 22%, UNI 15%, RISE 3%. It’s quite a shift from their previous poll, which had a two point SDP lead over the UPA, so usual caveats apply. Panelbase meanwhile have new figures of NAT 28%, UPA 24%, SDP 20%, UNI 14%, RISE 2%. The daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of NAT 30%, UPA 26%, SDP 22%, UNI 15, RISE 2%. Meanwhile the ICM/Guardian leaders poll found William Hague came out on top – 21%, 18% Burnham, 16% for Bell and Sugar each. Scottish poll shows, as ever, a RISE lead. Topline figures are RISE 24%, SNP 18%, UPA 18%, with SDP, UNI and NAT all joint at 13%. This would be enough for RISE to win every province.” - UK Polling Report, June 2016


The SDP was creeping up to the UPA in last-minute polls
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2016 Readers Poll Result
Hi everyone,

Here is the result from our ultimately meaningless reader's poll.
  • United People Alliance: 133 (+60)
  • Social Democratic Party: 121 (-5)
  • National Party: 95 (-79)
  • Reform Party: 50 (-6)
  • The Centrists : 25 (+25)
  • Mebyon Kernow: 19 (+18)
  • RISE: 12 (+2)
  • Scottish National Party : 12 (-8)
  • Unity: 6 (+6)
  • Plaid Cymru: 6 (-3)
  • Forward Wales: 6 (-2)
  • Sinn Fein: 6 (-)
  • Social Democratic and Labour Party: 6 (+5)
If the readers decided the election result it would be a disaster for the National Party, reduced to less than a hundred MPs, other parties to make losses include the SNP, Reform and the SDP - but nowhere on the same scale as National. The biggest winners of the night would be the UPA, nearly doubling their caucus to 133 MPs, the Centrists and Mebyon Kernow (where are all these MK stans coming from!?) would also have a good night.

The most likely result from this election I can see is a grand coalition of SDP, National and Reform teaming up to keep the radical left out of office. Other possibilities include a popular front government of UPA and SDP, or a SDP government propped up by Reform, Unity and a variety of seperatist parties.

Real result coming soon!
2016 Exit Poll

(Big Ben Chimes)



Jeremy Vine - It’s ten o’clock which means our omerta code of silence is broken and we can tell you the results of our exit poll. We are saying National is the largest party; although with a smaller crop of MPs. Our exit poll predicts National on 170 seats, down 4. The People’s Alliance on 114, that’s up 41. The SDP on 113, down 13. Unity returned 57 MPs, up 54. RISE on 12 Seats, up 2. The SNP are on 7, down 13. Finally all the other parties are on 24 seats. We now go to Babita Sharma for her analysis.

BS - A strong result for the National Party, even as two party politics shatters into four, five even six party politics. National has a strong 60 seat lead over it’s nearest rival. Even working together it will be very hard for the parties of the left to stop William Hague gaining a second term. Still National are far from a parliamentary majority, even with Unity they’d still need dozens of seats to form a government, and after apparently being badly burned I can’t see the SNP wanting to prop up the blue team again.

JV - Many analysts had been saying they expected the National Party to do well, but they have very few friends in Westminster, so getting those extra 80 they need for a majority will be quite difficult. Especially considering as you say the SNP is badly bruised and Reform has been completely wiped out.

BS - Yes, not a good night for Sarah Brown. I'm hearing reports she’ll even struggle to hold onto her home seat of Eastern Scotland. Speaking of bad nights we should look to Andy Burnham, whilst the SDP rout isn’t as dramatic as some pollsters predicted, if this exit poll is correct the Social Democrats have lost the official opposition spot.

JV - Yes however we should note this is only an exit poll and there is just one seat in it between Ms Ribeiro-Addy and Mr Burnham. It looks like in our coverage tonight it won’t just be the race to Downing Street but also the race to Norman Shaw North, the much less glamorous office of the Leader of the Opposition.

BS - It could well be that no-one claims Downing Street, looking at the numbers we have it’s very hard to see how anyone can form a Government. The National/Reform/SNP axis of the last four years can’t reach a majority, even if you sub out Sarah Brown for Alan Sugar. Almost every party of the centre and right has refused to work with the UPA so they can’t reach a majority, and if the SDP comes third it will be very difficult for Andy Burnham to stake a claim to the top job. The only achievable government from first glance would be a grand coalition, which both parties have already ruled out.

JV - Yes, I doubt few want to be Andy Burnham right now, the only other path to Downing Street could be if Unity abandons their long-standing opposition to the radical left and agrees to support a SDP/UPA coalition. But again Alan Sugar has poured cold water on the idea of working with the SDP, let alone the People’s Alliance.

BS - We should also note the interesting situation in Scotland, the SNP has gone down 13 seats but RISE has only picked up two - meaning the number of separatist MPs in Parliament has actually gone down. Can Patrick Harvie claim this as a win as his party is doing well in isolation, or does he look at the broader arithmetic? That could decide if the Scottish Government pushes ahead with a unilateral independence referendum.

JV - I have with me now Nick Timothy, he is the National Party MP for the West Midlands. Mr Timothy thanks for joining us. Would you agree that all things considered this exit poll is probably the best your party could have hoped for, or are you disappointed with this result?
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Cripes, why has Reform done so badly?

Has Unity been gobbling up their votes left, right and centre? Or, well, left, left and left? :p
Mix of anger at their support for the National Government, coupled with Unity having basically the same policies with less baggage, more money, and a better known leader