David Cameron will remain the UK’s Prime Minister after securing a surprisingly decisive victory in the country’s general election with a result that has left media commentators with plenty of egg on their faces. With the final tally of votes still being counted as of Friday morning, Cameron and his Conservative Party now appear on the threshold of winning a majority in Parliament, a result virtually all opinion polls and makers had deemed an impossibility for weeks. Pundits had appeared certain that no single party would win an outright majority. “Well hung” had been the prediction of The Sun on its front page on Thursday morning.
Such was the discrepancy between the final and expected outcome, the recriminations within the political and media spheres were immediate. The Guardian newspaper asked, “How did the polls get it so wrong,” while Rupert Murdoch’s Cameron-supporting The Sun crowed about “Cam’s amazing escape.”
Following a devastating night for the Labour party and Liberal Democrats, and a triumphant one for the Scottish Nationalist Party, which swept through Scotland picking up all but three of the available seats, the political landscape in the UK is likely to change for years to come. And so, too, is there likely to be some soul-searching within the media biz for their inaccurate forecasts.
“This has been an election which may have more profound consequences than almost any in living memory,” wrote Norman Smith on the BBC’s website. “It is an election which has not just defied all the predictions of the pollsters and pundits – but which may yet prompt the most fundamental re-casting of British politics for a generation.”
Both leaders of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, are expected to resign. Such was the political rout that there are now question marks about the long-term viability of the Lib Dems after a number of party heavy-hitters such as Vince Cable, Danny Alexander and Ed Davey all lost their seats. Labour’s Ed Balls and Jim Murphy, the party’s leader in Scotland, also lost their seats in two of the higher profile upsets of the night. Right wing figure Nigel Farage, the outspoken leader of the anti-immigration, anti-EU UKIP was also set to resign after failing to win his contested seat in Thanet South.
The prospect of a majority government, as opposed to another five years of coalition rule, saw the pound make its biggest gains in six years and the London FTSE enjoy its biggest single rise since January.
At the time of writing, the Conservative party had won 323 seats with 36.7% of the vote to Labour’s 228 seats with 30.5% of the vote.