The Blog

Ten Defining Words of the 2015 General Election

So, there we have it. A Conservative government with an absolute majority. Who'd have thought it? Very few, it seems. While there'll be much back slapping in Tory ranks, a big SNP knees up north of the border and genuine grins on Green faces, there'll be a lot of navel gazing in other parties...

So, there we have it. A Conservative government with an absolute majority. Who'd have thought it? Very few, it seems.

While there'll be much back slapping in Tory ranks, a big SNP knees up north of the border and genuine grins on Green faces, there'll be a lot of navel gazing in other parties.

The political commentators will be telling us what won or lost it for Labour and the Lib Dems over the weekend, but for now, here's a wordsmith's take on the General Election 2015. Ten words that defined the campaign and the result (at least for me!)

1. Coalition. Everyone was expecting it, but it never materialised. Those of us who believe in plurality think coalitions are a good thing. But Labour and the Tories definitely don't like smaller parties having a say. From the moment the Tories coined the 'coalition of chaos' soundbite it was game over for the little guys. Both the main parties went out and about for an outright majority. All or nothing. Anyone putting their money on red lost.

2. Austerity. Pundits reckon it was the SNP's anti-austerity stance that swung it for them. The Lib Dem and Labour acceptance of cuts put them in the same camp as the Conservatives. So why didn't it translate into Green votes? They were staunchly anti-austerity too. The answer possibly lies in Gogglebox. When they reviewed the Greens 'boy band' election broadcast, the Brighton guys' conversation went something like this: What are they saying "hosterity"? What does it mean? I don't know - probably something to do with being hostile. Note to self, Natalie: 'cuts' and 'bedroom tax' are words the general public use and understand.

3. Scotland. This will be known as the Scottish election, even though Labour still wouldn't have had a majority if they'd held on to their seats up in Scotland. The Tories cleverly let Ukip talk for England about coming out of Europe and focused instead on scaremongering about the SNP holding a Labour government to ransom. The amount of anti-Scottish sentiment I came across in England was truly shocking. I still think we should follow their lead: scrap Trident and spend the money on free education and healthcare instead.

4. Milibrand. Ed Miliband and Russell Brand mash up. We don't know yet whether that interview engaged or put off its target audience of young voters. In the age of social media and social exclusion of young people, it was right to encourage them to vote. But it was better PR for Russell's change of mind on voting than for 'when-I'm-your-Prime-Minister' Ed. How many times did he say that, from behind his presidential lectern?! How annoying. How presumptuous. The public cannot vote for a PM in this country. What about the rest of your team, your cabinet, your chancellor?

5. Immigration. At the start of the campaign, you'd be forgiven for thinking that immigration was the number one issue. I guess it was until the media love-in with Farage and Ukip waned. Their cause obviously not helped by the horrific pictures from Italy of thousands of migrants fleeing countries we'd intervened badly in and left to rot. With hundreds dying needlessly while the world looked on. Shameful.

6. Surge. The Green surge, SNP surge, Ukip surge. The smaller parties really were on the crest of a wave in this election. While the Scots made the biggest splash with ripple effects felt across the country, the Ukip surge is hopefully just that - all washed up and washed out. It's the Greens who now need to change their tune. It's time to rebrand it as a solid foundation on which to keep building.

7. Selfie. This was definitely the selfie election, with Nicola Sturgeon the proclaimed Selfie Queen of Scots. Once all the fanfare has died down, I hope politicians will take a look in the front-facing camera and reflect on the people in the photos alongside and behind them. This is your electorate. This is Britain. Multicultural. Young and old. Female. One of the silver linings of this election is that we now have the highest number of women MPs ever in Westminster. But 28% is not enough, it's not representative. One thing many people loved about the leaders' debates was the presence of female leaders who, unlike Thatcher, showed that politics and compassion are not mutually exclusive.

8. Climate change. OK, that's two words, but they were very conspicuous by their absence in this election. To prove they aren't a single issue party, even the Greens spoke more about social justice and the NHS rather than the environment. Natalie Bennett should have shamed the others on climate change in the TV debates, but there was no discussion of energy policy, especially renewables, let alone the broader issue of climate change. Let's hope Boris can give Dave a bit of an environmental pep talk before the world leaders' climate change summit in Paris.

9. Sustainability. Another word that was decidedly not on the tip of many tongues. Nor likely to be, as it's still so misunderstood. It's very simple: balancing economic, social and environmental impacts to meet everyone's need, today and in the future. It's taken 20 years for people to wake up to climate change. I hope sustainability will be part of the vernacular of the 2020 election.

10. Democracy. Last but by no means least, good old democracy. Is it democratic for us to be governed by the party with a 'majority' of 37% of the votes cast by 66% of the electorate? I'm a wordsmith, but even I can do the math on this. The smaller parties will doubtless push, once more, for proportional representation. But I doubt we'll get it. Why? See (1) above!