The general election has come and gone in the blink of an eye, yet it appears to be back to usual business in the Westminster bubble. The polls meant that people like me thought that by now the parties would be engaged in long and protracted negotiations to form coalitions or make deals. It wasn’t to be. By 10pm on the 7th of May when the first exit poll was released, it was clear that all our expectations or hopes were a million miles wide of the mark. By then the Conservatives looked odds on to become the largest party just short of an overall majority. But less than two hours later it was clear that slowly but surely they would reach the target they needed and by about 9am the next morning it was all wrapped up.

So just how could everyone get the polls so wrong? It must be noted, that every poll was within the margin of error and one Ashcroft poll two weeks before Election Day got the eventual result spot on. However, nobody had expected the overall majority and the Labour Party have been left to face the prospect of another five years of Conservative rule. Despite all this, this election has thrown up some monumental changes to British politics that will reverberate for years to come.

Firstly, the SNP’s thumping of Scottish Labour has painted the map of Scotland yellow. Only a tinge of blue can be seen deep in the south. Before the election the Scottish National Party had 6 MPs but now they have 56. Labour lost every seat but one and the Lib Dems retain just one too. This changing of the political guard in Scotland is a result of the independence referendum held last September. The Labour Party has lost much of its support due to its campaign alongside the Conservatives. Meanwhile, many people who voted ‘yes’ gave their support to the SNP. This phenomenal achievement pushes the union ever closer to breaking point and during Cameron’s administration it will be seen as the ultimate test for him to try and prevent this.

Secondly, the Liberal Democrats’ near wipeout at the hand of the Conservatives shows just how brutal the electorate can be. Reduced to a rump of just 8 MPs, the Liberal Democrats were swiftly and savagely punished for entering into a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. Many of the party’s most prominent names were washed away with the tide such as Vince Cable, Simon Hughes and Danny Alexander. The Lib Dems have the same amount of seats as the DUP and if it wasn’t for the First-Past-the-Post system, UKIP would have dozens more.

Though Nick Clegg held his seat by a few thousand votes, he rapidly resigned the next morning. The party will now hold a leadership campaign and names such as Tim Farron are the favourite to win this. But then again, there isn’t really much choice for them. The same applies to Labour in light of their massacre north of the border. Many of Labour’s big names got handed their P45s on Thursday along with Ed Balls in Morley and Outwood. This reduces the talent pool of the Labour Party considerably and after Ed Miliband also resigned there has not been much left to choose from. The pro-business Chuka Umunna is widely tipped as the favourite to win but Labour will surely lose its left-wing vote for good if he is chosen.

The last element to this fascinating election has to be the possibility of a ‘Brexit’. Now Cameron has his majority he will surely have to carry out his promise and deliver an EU referendum. The ability to bring back powers from Brussels will be extremely tough and it is unlikely that Merkel and co. will compromise on the EU’s core principles. This leaves the chances of an early referendum which could quite easily result in an exit – a scenario which most of the British electorate currently oppose. This is one of Cameron’s challenges after the general election since a Brexit would surely be seen as a failure on his part.

This general election may appear to be part of the same old story of British two-party politics. But the rise of the SNP, the large UKIP and Green vote and the upcoming EU referendum show that this election could be a game changer and affect the existence of this so-called United Kingdom.

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