Britain: Tories win, but Scotland turns left

After her party won more than 1 million votes but just one seat, Greens leader Natalie Bennett said: 'The fight for a fairer, mo

Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party won a clear victory in Britain's May 7 general elections. In Scotland, however, the Scottish National Party dramatically rose from six seats to 56 out of 59, in a clear sign of opposition to the brutal austerity backed by the major parties in Westminster.

The big loser in Scotland was Labour, which was nearly wiped out. Previously the largest party in Scotland, it kept just one seat. It was ruthlessly punished for its support for austerity and its role in opposing Scottish independence. Although the “no” vote won, Labour paid the price for a nasty campaign in which it appeared as just one more voice of the London establishment.

“The SNP gains wiped out political heavyweights,” TeleSUR English said on May 8, “including former cabinet minister Danny Alexander of the Liberal Democrats, Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy and Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Douglas Alexander.

“Douglas Alexander lost his seat to one of the SNP’s new seat holders, Mhairi Black , a 20-year-old university student, who has become the youngest member of parliament in 350 years.

“She won 23,548 votes against 17,804 for Alexander in the Paisley and Renfrewshire South constituency – an embarrassing result for a man who is Labour's shadow foreign minister and electoral campaign chief.”

The Conservatives won 331 out of 650 seats, giving it an outright majority. However, in a sign of the deeply undemocratic electoral system, it did so winning only 36.9% of the popular vote. Combined with the nearly one-third of voters who abstained, the vast majority of people in Britain did not vote Tory – but will be subjected to its brutal rule.

While imposing crippling cuts and the austerity measures on the majority, under the Tories the super-rich have doubled their wealth. On April 26, TeleSUR English reported: “Britain's super-rich doubled their collective wealth since 2009, the annual The Sunday Times 'Rich List' has revealed.”

At the same time, The Guardian reported on May 3: “A harrowing study by the National Association of Head Teachers, published at the start of its annual conference, has revealed the extent to which schools are helping children whose families have been affected by government cuts.

“Providing an estimated £43.5m of unfunded support, schools are helping unemployed or low-income families with everything, starting with food (on top of free school meals).

“Then there are issues as basic as underwear, laundry and washing facilities, equipment, school trips, bus passes, haircuts, head-lice treatments, even birthday cards for children who otherwise would not receive them.”

Labour clearly failed to capitalise on anger at this reality by providing a clear alternative. Despite its national vote rising by 1.4%, its number of seats from 256 to 232.

In England, the Green Party's Caroline Lucas – a leading voice against austerity – kept her Brighton Pavillion seat, winning 22,871 and increasing her majority by 11%.

Across Britain, more than 1.15 million people voted Green, compared to the 265,243 votes the party won in 2010.

The party came second in four seats, including Bristol West, where Greens candidate Darren Hall took the Green vote from 23% to 26.8%.

However, despite the large rise, the Greens have won no more seats due to the undemocratic “first-past-the-post” voting system. Greens leader Natalie Bennett said in response: “The fight for a fairer, more democratic voting system begins today.”

The left-wing Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru kept its three seats. Irish republican party Sinn Fein, which abstains from taking seats in Westminster, fell from five to four seats.

The Liberal Democrats were punished for their role as a junior government partner, which resulted in it breaking key election promises, falling from 57 seats in 2010 to just eight.

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