This is from my article on the British general election published in the International New York Times, 8 May 2015:
Before the election, with most commentators expecting an indecisive result, there was widespread discussion about the issue of legitimacy: Would a minority government, or a coalition of disparate parties, have a genuine mandate to govern? Thursday’s result may have prevented the feared constitutional wrangling, but it has raised deeper questions of legitimacy.
‘I want to reclaim the mantle that we should never have lost’, Prime Minister David Cameron told fellow Conservatives Thursday night, ‘the mantle of one nation, one United Kingdom.’ But no party can any longer claim that mantle. Over recent decades, support for all the major parties has geographically fragmented.
Whatever Mr Cameron’s desire, the Conservatives no longer constitute a ‘one nation’ party. It is effectively the party of England, and more especially of southern England. From the 1930s to the 1950s, the Conservatives were the dominant force in Scotland, winning more than half the votes in some elections. As late as 1992, the party took more than a quarter of the votes and held 11 seats there. In this Parliament, as in the last, there is just one Scottish Conservative member.
The Labour Party possesses even less of a national presence. From being the prevailing political force in Scotland, it has been all but wiped out, retaining, like the Conservatives, just one seat. And in England, it has been forced back into its heartlands in London, the Midlands and the North. Even here, it now faces a new threat. The populist anti-immigration, anti-European U.K. Independence Party polled strongly in many traditional Labour areas in the north of England and even in Wales. Come the next election, it may well challenge Labour in these constituencies.
Read the full article in the INYT.