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United Kingdom 2015 Election: some Australian comparisons


At the 2013 federal election, Australia returned from a ‘hung’ parliament to the historically more usual situation whereby either Labor or the Coalition holds an absolute majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The United Kingdom general election on 7 May 2015 also saw a move from a ‘hung’ parliament, where the Conservatives were in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, to one where the Conservatives will be able to govern in their own right—the first outright majority for the Conservatives since 1992.

At the UK election Labour lost 26 seats, and the Liberal Democrats were decimated, losing 49 of their 57 seats. The fortunes of the Scottish National Party (SNP), in contrast, have risen dramatically, with the SNP increasing its presence in the House of Commons by 50 seats.

Results summary (changes compared with 2010)

Conservative Party

331 seats

up 24 seats

36.9% of national vote

+ 0.8%

Labour Party

232

down 26

30.4%

+ 1.5%

Scottish National Party

56

up 50

4.7%

+ 3.1%

Liberal Democrats

8

down 49

7.9%

– 15.2%

Democratic Unionist Party

8

no change

0.6%

= 0.0%

Sinn Fein

4

down 1

0.6%

= 0.0%

Plaid Cymru

3

no change

0.6%

= 0.0%

Social Democratic & Labour Party

3

no change

0.3%

= 0.0%

Ulster Unionist Party

2

up 2

0.4%

= 0.0%

UKIP

1

up 1

12.6%

+ 9.5%

Green Party

1

no change

3.8%

+ 2.8%

Independents

1

 

 

0.5%

Total

650

 

 

 

While the ‘Green surge’ in party membership for the UK Green Party, led by Australian-born Natalie Bennett, did not lead to an increased presence in the House of Commons beyond the one seat they already hold, the Greens’ overall vote did rise from 0.94% at the 2010 election to 3.8% at this election. By contrast, the Australian Greens, who also retained their single seat in the House of Representatives at the 2013 election, saw a decrease in their primary vote from 11.8% in 2010 to 8.6% in 2013.

In this British election Mhairi Black (SNP) defeated Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander, to become Britain’s youngest MP since 1667, aged 20 years, 7 months and 26 days. However, she is still older than Australia’s youngest federal MP, Wyatt Roy (LP, Longman, Qld), who was 20 years and 3 months of age when he was elected at the 2010 federal election. Nevertheless, Mhairi Black is the youngest female in either Britain or Australia to become a national MP. Kate Ellis MP (ALP, Adelaide, SA), Natasha Stott Despoja (AD, SA), and Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (AG, SA) were aged 27, 26 and 25 respectively when they were elected to the Australian Parliament.

At the UK general election the percentage of female MPs in the House of Commons rose from 22.6% to 29.4%. This is slightly greater than the Australian House of Representatives, where 26.7% of members are women.

Two Australians played important roles in the election campaign for the Conservatives: Lynton Crosby (campaign director), and political strategist Mark Textor, who worked on the campaign in London. Former director of communications to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, John McTernan, was chief of staff to Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy who lost his seat to the SNP.

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