One of the most boring British election campaigns on record produced a supposedly dramatic result. Before the polls closed at 10pm on Thursday 7th May 2015, every polling organisation had the two main political parties, Conservative and Labour neck and neck. No one knew who was going to win.
But as soon as London’s iconic Big Ben struck ten an exit poll for the main television stations surprisingly showed an overwhelming victory for the Conservatives. By the time the last votes were counted on Friday 8th, the Conservative Party, led by David Cameron, had ridden home with 331 seats while Ed Miliband’s Labour Party performed unexpectedly poorly with 232 seats.
The United Kingdom’s parliament seats 650 members so the Conservatives had theoretically crossed the halfway 325 seats needed to govern the nation alone without a need to enter a coalition with a smaller party as it had done in 2010 with the Liberal Democrats. In the immediate aftermath of the Conservative victory many rightly asked why the polls for the preceding six weeks got it so wrong. Even taking into account the usual margin of errors no one had predicted this outcome. Tellingly, very few asked why a significant part of the British electorate was clearly lying to pollsters.