On 7th May 2015, the British people go to the polls and cast their votes. The Conservatives are driven off the battleground constituencies by UKIP surges and Liberal Democrat holds. Labour has held onto the polling lead which had so nearly disappeared only a year earlier and has emerged with a 60 seat gain.
Whilst they have wrestled crucial seats from the Coalition partners, Labour is still fifteen seats short of a parliamentary majority. As the dust settles, the Liberal Democrats look around and see that their party has been saved by their relentless grassroots campaigners, who have salvaged almost 35 seats from the Coalition’s wreckage. They are kingmakers again.
Election Day +1
Nick Clegg’s phone begins to ring. And ring. David Cameron is on line one, “let’s finish the job that we have started, we have a long-term plan”; but Ed Miliband is on line two, promising a future of fairness as well as closer ties with Europe. Even though the Coalition survived until the last days of its term, inevitably bad blood had developed during the scramble to take credit for successes and to pin blame for failures. The parties retreat behind closed doors for three days of negotiations.
Election Day +4
Ed Miliband and David Cameron have both made their offers. After discussions with David Laws, the lead writer of the Party’s election manifesto, and Tim Farron, the Party Chairman, it is agreed: The last Coalition was a war-time government to fight the recession, the country now needs a peacetime coalition which will bring hope and fairness to those who need it most.
Election Day +5
Ed Miliband, stands next to the first Deputy Prime Minister to have been in office with all the major parties in Downing Street. A few hours earlier, the new cabinet had been announced. Ed Balls replaces George Osborne in the Treasury, and David Laws takes over from Vince Cable to run the Department of Business, the latter happily stepping across to support Gregg McClymont in the Department of Work and Pensions.
The New Deal
The Honeymoon Period begins as Ed Miliband declares that “Britain can do better”. Nick Clegg announces that the personal tax allowance will rise to £12,500, funded by a tax on properties worth over £2 million. The following week, Ed Balls proudly unveils his Guaranteed Jobs scheme, funded by a further tax on banker bonuses. With the economy growing at a healthy 2.6%, the Government has a freer hand to shape a more ideological fiscal approach than its predecessor.
Within his first 100 days, Miliband reaches out to British businesses and reforms the Government’s approach to supporting exports whilst implementing market caps on the energy and banking sectors; “the British economy must work for the British people”, he demands. The private sector growls and inward investment lapses, but Balls unveils the Business Investment Bank to cautious applause. Meanwhile, his number 2, Danny Alexander tries to calm the markets with a raft of policies protecting new market challengers and encouraging infrastructure investment. The private sector warily conforms to this new policy landscape as Ed Miliband strengthens the UK’s ties with its European partners.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives take their seats on the other side of the House. David Cameron remains at the dispatch box, decrying the dangers of fiscal complacency. However, the public responds positively to Miliband’s early forays, and the Coalition begins its journey towards 2020.
Image: Paul Bednall
Written by Daniel Regan, Associate at Cicero Group.