Making sense of May 7: the 2015 election and the future of British politics
On 8 September we invited Professor John Curtice and other leading analysts to dissect the implications of the 2015 general election at the launch of the first major book on the campaign and its outcome, Britain Votes 2015.
The general election was one of the most extraordinary contests of recent times, with an outcome that surprised many commentators. A race that was supposedly ‘neck-and-neck’ and heading for a hung Parliament resulted in the first majority Conservative government since 1992.
So how did a fragmented political system actually deliver single party government and what are the consequences for the future of the British political system?
Can the Conservative performance be explained by the ‘black widow effect’? And if so, having devoured the Lib Dems, what does the future now hold for David Cameron and his party given the structural problems it still faces and with an electorate whose support for it remains cagey and contingent?
Despite ideological and political incoherence are there still significant opportunities for Labour to exploit in the future? Might brand distinctiveness help nullify the Conservative advantages on economic competence and leadership?
What now for UKIP? Will the issue of immigration continue to exacerbate the break-down of the British party system?
And what of the polls? Should there now be an inquiry not just into polling methodology, but also into how the media cover polls during an election campaign – can we get away from the horserace?
Professor Tim Bale
Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London, Tim is one of the leading commentators on British party politics. His most recent publications have chronicled the Five Year Mission: The Labour Party Under Ed Miliband and charted the development of The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron. He is also a regular media commentator with articles featuring frequently in the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, and Financial Times.
Professor Sarah Childs
Professor of Politics and Gender at the University of Bristol, Sarah was a special adviser to the Speaker’s Conference on Parliamentary Representation and is currently on a ‘knowledge exchange secondment’ exploring how to make the House of Commons a more gender sensitive institution. She has written widely about women’s representation and party politics, most recently in her book, Sex, Gender and the Conservative Party: From Iron Lady to Kitten Heels.
Professor John Curtice
Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, John led the team of academics that produced the general election night exit poll that delivered the now famous 10pm forecast of the final result. He currently serves as President of the British Polling Council which, following the election, set up an inquiry into the performance of the opinion polls. He is Research Consultant at NatCen Social Research where he co-edits the British Social Attitudes Survey. He was recently awarded an ESRC Fellowship to lead work on a new research initiative, ‘The UK in a Changing Europe’, which will provide easy access to comprehensive, impartial information about what the public thinks about Europe in advance of the proposed referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
Professor Matthew Goodwin
Professor of Political Science at the University of Kent, Matthew’s latest book, Revolt on the Right, won the 2015 Paddy Power Political Book of the Year award. A Senior Visiting Fellow at Chatham House he is the leading analyst of radical right politics. With unprecedented access to UKIP his forthcoming book, UKIP : Inside the Campaign to Redraw the Map of British Politics, will tell the inside story of the party’s election quest. Register here