The Portillo Moment of 2015: Nick Clegg In Trouble


UK election reporter Liam Bateman writes.

UK elections have always brought shocking results to the table on election night. This was never more true on May 1st 1997, when Tony Blair took over 145 seats from John Major’s Tory Party. One such seat was Enfield Southgate. Then Defence Secretary Michael Portillo, tipped as a replacement leader if John Major resigned as leader, lost his seat to Stephen Twigg, the first openly gay MP in the Commons. 2015 is looking to be the same all over the country. Scotland is expected to go almost completely yellow, with the Lib Dems and Labour predicted to only retain one or two seats. Even former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s seat is expected to go to the SNP. But one prediction is quite shocking and may prove fatal for one of Britain’s biggest parties.

Nick Clegg is the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the third largest party in Britain. Eighteen years ago, Paddy Ashdown had led the Lib Dems to one of their best electoral results ever, taking numerous seats away from the Tory Party all over the country. 2015 is expected to be the opposite, with many senior Lib Dem MPs expected to lose seats to either Labour or the Conservatives. Recent polling in Sheffield Hallam, the constituency of Mr Clegg has a result that would have the party scared for their lives. Clegg is expected to be out of the House of Commons with his constituency falling into Labour’s hands for the very first time in history.

This is a trend represented all across Britain. Following mass dissatisfaction at the coalition, which Clegg is the deputy of, many voters swung towards both major parties. It is expected that over twenty LD seats will go to Labour, the Tories or the SNP, leaving the party with only 27 MPs in the next Parliament. And with their leader expected to fall, the party will be plunged into chaos. A new leader will come into the fray, but with some senior MPs calling it quits or expected to lose their seats, it will likely be a junior MP. The result of the election may send the Lib Dems into the political wilderness.

Many on the British left have experienced this before, when Thatcher threw Labour into opposition in 1979. Labour was cast into the wilderness for eighteen years, having three leaders before Blair won in 1997. However, the Liberal Democrats may not be able to bounce back from this one. They have broken their pledges to the people of Britain and are paying the price for it. With no senior MPs to guide them back on their way, the party could fall into the depths of hell, never to be seen. Unless Clegg pulls a Tony Benn and contests a Lib Dem safe seat after 2015, (it may be difficult to find one though) I do not believe the Liberal Democrats will be around after the 2020 election.


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