Sam Wang unearthed some interesting facts about the recent elections in the UK where the Conservative party surprised everyone by winning an outright majority of 331 seats in the 650—seat parliament. He looked at how people had voted compared to the 2010 elections and compiled this table.
The key fact is that while Conservative and Labour retained the loyalty of roughly three-quarters of their voters, and UKIP and the Greens retained about the-thirds, the outliers were the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. The former saw massive defections largely to the Labour party while the latter retained an astonishing 95% loyalty. It is clear that aligning themselves with the Conservatives in a coalition government was disastrous for the Liberal Democrats whose overall share of the vote dropped from 23% to just 8%. I don’t know if they can recover.
He also points out that although the SNP got 56 out of the 59 seats they contested in Scotland, they got just 50% of the vote, close to the 45% of the yes votes in last year’s referendum, suggesting that there wasn’t as much of a swing in their favor as had been thought.
The SNP poses a problem for the two major British parties. They both oppose Scottish separation, but if they both contest Scottish seats, it enables the SNP to win by a plurality, thus strengthening the separatist cause. Wang suggests that it may make sense for the Conservatives to not contest those seats and so enable Labour to win a good share of them.
I think that this is unlikely to happen because neither Labour nor Conservative would like to give the impression that they are colluding in this way against the Scots because this might create a major pro-independence backlash.