The Liberal Democrats and Others
Once considered a hallmark of the British political system, the concept of two-party politics was thought to have been consigned to history. The share of the popular vote captured by the two main parties had been in almost constant decline since the 1970s, falling as low at 65% in 2010. The 2015 contest had seen a very small reversal, with both the main parties seeing their vote share rising, but only very slightly, and with record-breaking performances from UKIP (especially in England and Wales), the SNP and the Greens, the 2015 contest provided plenty of evidence of a highly fragmented party system. It was the first election since 1832 in which different parties had topped the poll in all four parts of the UK. Yet the following two years proved difficult for the ‘other’ parties. In Scotland, as discussed below in Chapter 6, the SNP found it hard to maintain the dominance they had achieved just two years before, while elsewhere the smaller parties found themselves struggling to respond to a rapidly changing political environment.