Corbyn Solidifies His Leadership While May Will Surely Lose Hers As UK Election Ends In Hung Parliament
Well, we are still waiting for around two dozen results tonight in the UK election but there are two clear losers, Theresa May and the Conservative party. When this snap election was called six weeks ago, May and the Conservatives had a 20 point lead and thought it was possible that they could expand their working majority from 17 to perhaps around 100. Instead, the results tonight show the Conservatives losing 13 seats, losing their majority, winning the popular vote by a mere 3%, and, while still having the most seats in Parliament, having to form a government with the Northern Ireland DUP party which gives her just a margin of two.
It is quite likely that May will now have to step down as leader of the Conservative party, making her the shortest serving PM since 1922. Her campaign was a disaster, as the more people saw her, the more they disliked her. It didn’t help that the Conservative manifesto was also a disaster, largely remembered for the “dementia tax”.
The idea of a hard Brexit now looks to be dead in the water and it increasingly looks like it will be difficult for the negotiations to actually to be completed within the two year period.
While this was a disaster for the Tories, it was a massive win for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. The party was expected to experience a wipeout similar to what happened to the party in Scotland in 2015. Instead, it has gained 30 seats, defended virtually all of its marginal constituencies, and scored some shocking wins against the Tories, even taking down a number of the Tory leadership.
Corbyn’s decision to make a sharp difference between Labour and the Conservatives, renewing the traditional right versus left politics, was clearly a winning strategy. In addition, he ran a positive, open, and competent campaign that still acknowledged the reality of Brexit and showed that he was not the hard left whacko that he had been depicted as.
Interestingly, the Conservatives and Labour both increased their share of the vote from 2015, with Labour’s share rising by around 10%. Some of these votes came from an increased turnout, probably coming from the energized youth vote that Corbyn has brought into the party and motivated with an anti-austerity, left-wing campaign that simply provided hope for a better future.
Another large factor in the increased vote for both parties was the total collapse of UKIP. It had been expected that most of these votes would swing to the Conservatives but, as it turned out, many of those UKIP voters were Labour voters who returned to the fold, drawn back by Corbyn’s anti-austerity campaign. This was especially true in the Northeast where the Tories had hoped to make broad gains.
But it was more than the just the collapse of UKIP. This election basically returned the country to a two party contest and, to generalize, has divided the country between young Labour and old Tories.
The Conservatives were actually saved by Tory pickups in Scotland, of all places, where they managed to flip 10 formerly SNP seats. Labour took an additional 6 seats from the SNP as well, putting another Scottish independence referendum in doubt.
This election turned expectations on its head. Theresa May ran to increase her mandate as a strong leader. Jeremy Corbyn had barely survived being ditched by a Labour revolt and a poor result may have ended his leadership of the party. Now that the votes are largely counted, May’s leadership is in serious doubt and probably over and Corby has solidified his leadership of the Labour party in a way that no one could have believed just six weeks ago.
I’ll have more on the overall implications for the UK and the future tomorrow but, for now, it’s time for sleep.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on June 9, 2017.