Tories represent a minority - Austerity is massively unpopular

The Tory party achieved a remarkable parliamentary success in the 2015 election, but there was a massive swing in the popular vote against austerity policies.

Supporters of the Tory party and supporters of austerity, which includes most of the media in Britain are keen to focus on the new overall majority on Parliament. The clear message is: They’ve won. They’re popular. Resistance to their policies is useless.

But the Tory majority relies on the antiquated British political system, which was designed for aristocrats to lord over us. There are very few other countries in the world where getting a little more than one third of the vote gets you 51% of the seats.

The media are far less keen on mentioning the Tory vote share, which rose to just 36.9%. And no-one dares mention the fact that that there was an enormous swing against the government. This is a government whose main policy was austerity and which ran solely on its economic record. The swing against the last austerity government was the biggest swing against any government in the entire period since the end of the World War II, as the chart below shows.


The Tories are in office because the entire hit of the swing against the government fell on the LibDems, whose vote seems to have scattered to almost every other party. But it is clear that these policies were massively unpopular. The swing in 2015 was bigger than the one which brought the Labour government to office in 1945 and bigger than when the Tories were routed in 1997.

As a result Cameron is the Prime Minister with the lowest ever percentage share of the vote under universal suffrage. The Tories and austerity are not popularity. And yet they intend to do even more of the same.

The Tory government rests on a minority and represents a minority. The anger against it will grow. There have already been a number of semi-spontaneous protests. The big rallying point for the majority opposed to austerity is the June 20 demonstration. Details here.


Michael Burke is an economist who blogs regularly at socialist economic bulletin

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  • commented 2015-05-18 08:42:17 +0100
    ? should not the term “austerity” be replaced by “living within our means” – as overheard on BBC’s Radio Four? There was very real “breadline” austerity when the Welfare State and “National Assistance” were introduced, a great blessing for all of us in Society, in the late 1940s. Not much widespread evidence in Communities living a “Benefits Culture” currently.
  • commented 2015-05-16 00:03:53 +0100
    ah yes – facts – we must stick to facts, such as the FACT that Labour won the 2010 election with 36.1% of the vote, so making your comment “As a result Cameron is the Prime Minister with the lowest ever percentage share of the vote under universal suffrage” complete tosh!

    You clamour for “truth” yet populate this site with untruths

    Facts though, aren’t half as sexy as agenda – we can agree on that
  • commented 2015-05-15 19:59:00 +0100
    Yep 24% of registered voters… 17% of the UK population… Less votes than Churchill when he was booted out…
    No Mainstream News outlet talking about Labour getting 9m to Tories 11m votes – let alone greens getting over 1m – no talk of 46m registered voters and more registered voters NOT voting (33%) than voted Tory (24%).

    Facts don’t make sexy headlines – even the frightening rise of UKIP or the fact that Tories got about as many votes as last time (stubborn Tory voters believing the narrative spin by papers about austerity?) don’t get air time.

    The truth is that Osbourne cited a paper by Reinhart and Rogoff that claimed economic growth would enter a negative IF the deficit went above 85% of GDP. It was discredited by Harvard students and Reinhart and Rogoff apologised for the bad maths. Even at 150% it doesn’t enter negative. (There’s a debate as to whether negative is even to be avoided at such cost).

    It has been shown that public spending boosts economies – since the Tory electorate values the ‘economy’ above all else (as if they really understand it…), perhaps they should do half an hour of research rather than swallowing right wing news papers. Even the majority of those businesses in the city that were polled agreed that austerity slowed economic growth which HAS BEEN GLOBAL after the GLOWBAL CRASH of 2008.

    Facts though aren’t half as sexy as agenda…

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