“Yes, but what does it all MEAN?”
An exercise in WTAF
tl;dr : buggered if I know. But then neither does anyone else really, so that’s reassuringly normal, isn’t it?
So, the election no one really wanted, called by the Prime Minister no one actually voted for in the first place , when she promised she wouldn’t, to get a mandate to pursue a policy she didn’t apparently agree with, has finally breathed its last, and the dust is settling.
For some, the result is a surprise. For some of us, it seems less so. As soon as May showed herself as fundamentally out of her depth, it was clear there would be some movement, though the media and many polling organisations seemingly hadn’t managed to hitch a ride on the magic clue train.
But, what do we actually know?
Well, it looks like Britain is still a very divided country. But the divisions are not just along party lines. One Nation politics is dead. Yes, the DNP lost 20 seats, but you could hardly expect them to retain the 56 seats they won in 2015. They remain the party of government in Scotland. The Tories managed to win some highland seats, which is hardly a shock. Weirder still, the Tories improved showing here may actually be propping the party up in Westminster. Expect tension. It also looks as if this election has ignited the interest of younger voters.
As a result, the big winner is, almost unbelievably, Jeremy Corbyn. The man that the massed ranks of right-wing media said was a terrorist sympathiser, and electoral poison, now finds himself leading a party that has increased its share of vote, has performed very well with those younger voters, and seems to have buried the ghost of Blair. Third Way politics can last for only so long; it’s time (and its cheerleaders) are past.
The exception is the lack of return in seats in Scotland. If Labour want to have control of the nation’s destiny directly, they will need to either take more of those votes back, or find ways of working with those with similar interests. This parliament will certainly provide opportunities for the latter. It also means that there is space to bring back those with talent back into the fold, should they wish to. Perhaps those with rather more radical instincts will feel more comfortable in giving voice to them in light of the electorate’ response.
The excellent Jonathan Pie nails it, here.
UKIP is now an irrelevance. Good riddance. Maybe Pail Nuttall can go back where he came from: well-deserved obscurity . Just the mention of his name always makes me think if Stewart Lee
Tim Farron: sorry, your gamble didn’t work. The LibDems are stuck in the wilderness, though now rather amusingly they are without their erstwhile leader. Yorkshire has lost two Cleggs in less than a week. Only one will be missed; it won’t be Nick.
Even most of us who are avowedly pro-EU now realise we are stuck with this albatross of a decision, unless of course the ever mobile electorate decides differently. Given the last two years, who can say that’s not a possibility? That’s the only way a second referendum will happen now: if enough of the public want one, and the push from the ground, not from on high.
May is of course the biggest loser. The PM who took on her role by default has contrived to lose a majority she didn’t need to risk. By most reasonable measures, she has lost this election. Given her stewardship of the campaign, one might, not unreasonably, even wonder if she should not consider her position. I’m sure that more than a few in her party are. It would be faintly ironic if the woman with the liking for kitten heels were to end up with a figurative stiletto in the back. It should also mean the door slamming behind Lynton Crosby on his way out of the building.
May’s authority may now be fatally weakened. Her reshuffle didn’t change any of the top jobs because it couldn’t. Her approach to the DUP is also rather sweetly ironic, given the opprobrium heaped upon Corbyn for his past discussions with Sinn Fein. And dropping in her favourite “s” word in the aftermath will not help. There can be no conceivable sense in which two general elections (one unnecessary) a toxic and divisive referendum called purely for internal party reasons, and a Scottish independence referendum, all within 33 months can be seen as any kind of marker for stability. She holds on for now, but she has been found out, so it cannot be for long. She’s one misstep from being removed. That’s the only real certainty we have for niwnow.
It also means there are going to be some interesting times to come when the inevitable by-elections happen in the next eighteen months or so.
It’s messy and complicated, but weirdly, last night gives me hope that this country is slowly waking up from a prolonged fever dream. Even so, there are strange days ahead.