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.

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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.

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

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