In possibly the biggest bottlejob in political history, Theresa May has managed to scrape back into number 10 with no authority over her own party, let alone of the rest of the country. From a poll lead of 25 points, the Conservative Party have ended up losing seats, and have to govern with Democratic Unionist Party, who like Sinn Fein used to back terrorists but are also racist, homophobic, catholic hating climate change deniers. Basically the DUP are UKIP with terrorist links.
Before discussing the two main parties, a quick word on the more minor parties. For my own party, last night saw a rise in seats but a loss in vote share. I think the Liberal Democrats will keep Farron on the basis that there is an acknowledgement as like the Greens, we were the victim of the surge of Labour support (like in Nick Clegg’s seat) and a rise of seats isn’t the end of the world. The move towards two party politics will be a worry though.
The Greens, as touched on, were a victim of a Labour surge, and with Labour shifting leftwards, and both Labour and Lib Dems being very environmentally minded in outlook, you have to question if there is any place for The Green Party in British politics now – all their voters in 2015 who I know voted Labour this time around. It is delightful to see that UKIP is dead, the Party has done enormous damage to Britain already and their demise couldn’t have came too soon. In a few years Paul Nuttall’s name will only be brought up as a pointless answer on a certain BBC game show. Those who think this vote spells the end for SNP and Scottish Independence may be disappointed. The SNP’s vote share only dropped by 2% altogether and the losses can only be explained more heavily by tactical voting rather than a grand demise of the Scottish Nationalists. This election also makes the current voting system in the UK unfit for purpose, as for the 2nd time in three elections First Past the Post has failed to fit its one brief of delivering stable majority governments, but this issue will be covered in a separate blog next week.
Leading up to the election I was predicting the seats in parliament to stay roughly the same, and after the personally crushing disappointment on 2015, where the youth vote did not turn out for Ed Miliband like I thought it would at the time, I was braced for another rough night as someone on the left. Obviously this pessimism was wrong, as for once, my generation came out to vote, and its result was great. I suspect if the youth vote was around 44%, as it was in 2015, the result would still have been an increased Conservative majority.
Starting with Labour, I have an apology to make to my many Corbynista friends and family members. I have called the Corbyn platform as unelectable since he became leader, and although they did not win, this election result suggests I was wrong. What this result does is make the Blairite faction of the Labour Party redundant, and means Labour must now embrace fully the anti-austerity platform, even if this year’s manifesto was overreaching a bit economically. It is also true that Labour may have had a greater vote share without the 2nd leadership contest in 2016. One word of warning for Labour though, I still talked to many people – work colleagues, friends, random acquaintances, who wanted to vote Labour but couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Corbyn. Maybe this election more than anything else, shows that Owen Smith’s analysis was correct when he ran for leader: that the policy agenda of the Corbyn leadership was correct, but the man at the helm was the problem.
In the future, especially if there is another election soon, I believe Labour and the Lib Dems must sign an alliance pact to maximise the chances for a future progressive government, as they did before the 1997 Election. In Norwich South, Norwich North and Norfolk North, we saw how the progressive alliance could work. Traditional Lib Dem and Green voters flocked to Labour in the Norwich seats to protect Clive Lewis and to almost oust Chloe Smith, who had a 12,000 majority previously, while in Norfolk North, the Greens stood aside to help Norman Lamb protect his seat for the Liberal Democrats. I think Labour will spend the next how many years until the next election as the government in waiting.
This election has been an absolute disaster for the Conservatives, both for present and future. Although they increased their vote share, the Conservatives had a disastrous campaign, their policies were deeply unpopular, Theresa May was found out as a poser, Tory heartlands such at Canterbury and Kensington voted against a vague, hard Brexit and the obsession of soundbites and dog whistle campaigning turned people ultimately off. The 2015 – 2017 Conservative government found itself as completely dysfunctional with a majority of 6, so with only 2 seats majority if you include the DUP is a very daunting position to be in, especially with the likely infighting. Theresa May has always has critics on the long-time Brexiteers within the party, so it’s not a surprise that Johnson is already manoeuvring from the right to displace May. More worrying for May is that the left of the party, now led by Ruth Davidson is also moving against her, outraged by May’s position on Brexit and decision to ally with the DUP, this group would try and bring about a Cameron style leadership again, something much more tolerable. I personally don’t see May lasting 6 months, but see her attempting to hold on to power in the party like a dictator at the last days before the revolution.
The DUP coalition could spell further trouble for the Conservatives as allying with such an extreme party could alienate many in the centre-ground, the voters Cameron and Osborne worked so hard to gain back in 2010 and 2015. The irony will also not be lost on people that they harked on about Corbyn being a terrorist sympathiser to then finish the election by going into coalition with another group of terrorist sympathisers. And to top off Tory misery they still have to deal with Brexit on a weaker footing, and as I have said many times, Brexit will almost certainly be a disaster whoever is in power, let alone a disunited Conservative Party.
If the Conservative-DUP coalition does dissolve into a shambles, which I believe it will, we could be voting again next year, and providing the Tory leader in that election is not Ruth Davidson, they will probably lose. The Conservative Party love to elect the wrong leader, since the turn of the century the only good leader they have had is Cameron, and there is currently little talent on the Tory front bench. As for Labour, the same questions of Corbyn will be there, although the Sinn Fien animosity would be lower due to the Tory alliance with the DUP, and I suspect the seats between the Conservatives and Labour would be almost directly reversed. If there isn’t an election until 2022, I do not believe Corbyn will be leader, after all in 2022 Jeremy will be 73, and the next heir – probably likely to be either Clive Lewis, Keir Starmer or Emily Thornberry, who had a very good election campaign, will likely lead Labour to a healthy majority, providing Brexit is the disaster I suspect it will be. It would be for the good of the country if there is an earlier election, as Keir Starmer is far more equipped and talented to negotiate a good deal for the UK than David Davis, but it would probably be better for the Labour Party if there isn’t an election until 2022, as it will give them a real chance at a Blair sized majority.
Back to the present, it is clear that the clear winners of the election are Yougov (for correctly predicting a large youth turnout) and the future of the Labour party, while the real losers are the future of the Conservative Party, Theresa May and UKIP. And for the first time since I have been able to vote, I have not sat through a UK democratic event to be left depressed, even if my party only has 12 seats.