What the hell was that?
After about three hours sleep I’m still not quite sure what has happened. Considering my own predictions of a small, thirty seat or so, Tory majority, was wrong I’m not sure if anything I say can be trusted. But here are a few thoughts on what the fuck is going on…
The story of the election is turnout. Well, the story of the election is Theresa May’s horrendous miscalculation. But that aside, the unprecedented turnout, especially among young voters, was the driving force behind Labour’s performance. In seats where Labour gained or held strongly, turnout was in the 70% region. Nationally, it looks like turnout among 18–25 year olds was at 72%. If anything the pre-election polls underestimated how many people would vote.
In seats where small majorities from 2015 looked incredible vulnerable, Labour now has a cushion in the order of thousands. How the party harnesses this momentum, and how it works to shore up these new majorities in Illford, Hampstead, Bristol (to name a few) will be key. Labour have not won this election, but they’ve put themselves in an incredibly strong position to win the next (which will probably be sooner than we think).
The Tories look likely to depend on the DUP for a majority in the House of Commons, although this is complicated by the ‘English Votes for English Laws’ process. Regardless, progressives should be worried about the DUP having influence over the government. With a track record on equality and human rights issues far to the right of the Tories and as one side of the crucial, and stalled, negotiations around the make up of Stormont Assembly, their informal presence in government could be incredibly damaging. They are also now Northern Ireland’s only representation in Westminster (if anyone you know suggests Sinn Fein might take up their seats in Westminster, ignore them).
Scotland, meanwhile, has seen the SNP lose both Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond. Tory gains from the SNP are, in the end, what has put the Conservatives in a position to form a government. Back in 2015 this sort of scenario was unthinkable.
As for Brexit, there is still technically a majority for it in Parliament but an incredibly vulnerable one. Theresa May’s requests for a strong mandate for Brexit now look, in hindsight, even more laughable and shallow than they did at the time. Negotiations start this month and May, if she is still in charge, can’t possibly hope to be taken seriously in Europe.