On 10th October 2014 I made my one and only tweet predicting the outcome of the 2015 election - and 7 months later it proved to be correct: Conservatives a small majority, Labour second and Lib dems r out, writes Stephen Archer, Business Analyst and Director of Spring Partnerships.

I also made two predictions that were slightly out: a low turnout (it was average) and ten seats for UKIP, they got one seat but they did get 12.6% of the vote.

What was the basis of my prediction? There were two points, firstly a fundamental reality about leadership and secondly, human behavior i.e. the behaviour of the electorate.

These are two things that opinion polls failed to register. It is surprising that these were not revealed in focus groups although it is now emerging that some focus groups did point to the result but that the media and politicians were just obsessed with polls, debates and ‘expert punditry’. The Labour party also wanted to believe the polls and sidelined the focus group feedback.

Alfred Marshall, one of the founders of ecomonics, said that “Maths and models should be ‘aids to thinking’, not substitutes for it”. People vote for people and a strong narrative. None of the politicians were very charismatic or credible nor did they deliver a strong narrative. David Cameron was the probably the best in that respect and had the strength of the economy on his side and the simpler argument: ‘let us finish the job of repairing the economy.’

Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats probably did worst of the main parties by losing 42 of their 56 seats. In coalition the party was reduced to a small marginal party. Their problem was that Clegg did not show authority in the coalition and was rolled over by the Conservatives when most key issues arose. In short, the Liberal Democrats were weak partners and a weak party. No one wants to vote for weakness. The rot set in early for them and the outcome was inevitable. Though Clegg was weak, in fairness to him he was the most authentic of the three main UK party leaders.

Ed Miliband was the least authentic. From the moment he took leadership he looked like a man with more ambition than talent. He did not seem to be knowledgeable enough to do the job. He always looked as if he was working off a script or making it up as he went along. He had no core beliefs or principles to fall back on when he was put on the ropes. In short, he was a phony and the electorate knew it. He was not helped by having a shadow cabinet of career politicians who were as bad, if not worse, than him. Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor always looked like the ignorant school bully, rather than the man schooled in UK economics. He, like the rest of Labour, had to resort to attacking the incumbents because they had no strong story of their own. They claimed to be better but they could never put across how this would be so.

The electorate disliked Cameron and his party for their aloofness, patrician style and concealment of truth. For these reasons there was little enthusiasm to vote for them and this is why the polls were so close, people were undecided in their hearts. But when it comes to marking the cross in the polling booth the heart gets a nudge from the head. This is why I was certain that Labour would lose. Miliband was unelectable and lacked competence or any proof of competence. He was not authentic and for this reason the rational minds crossed the Conservative box on the ballot paper. It was always going to be so. Only delusion and hubris could mask this reality for the Labour party.

The lesson is about leadership. Miliband was always a questionable leader even within large parts of his own party. In today’s media environment the need for strong leadership is paramount. With strong leadership goes consistent and firmly held beliefs. The political class is now derided because it lacks these characteristics.

Scotland and its bid for independence has shown the way in strong leadership in Alex Salmond and latterly, Nicola Sturgeon. As a result the SNP compounded the misery of the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats in Scotland. Of course, the new government now has to manage a feisty Scottish presence in UK parliament.
The new government needs to consider that they did not win the election. The other parties lost it.
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