“Who knew Jeremy Corbyn was such a good campaigner?!” asks countless commentators. “He’s exceeded everyone’s expectations!” they say. Well, some of us never doubted Corbyn’s ability to attract votes specifically because he was clearly a brilliant campaigner. Some of us were just waiting for the chance for him to show the naysayers how much they were underestimating him and his team.
That’s not to say, of course, that Labour won this election. It absolutely did not. Much of the excitement around Labour’s performance is an expression of surprise at a result many thought impossible. The truth is that nobody won this election, by the ground rules of the FPTP system. Neither of the two main parties won a majority that would give them a clear mandate to govern. It simply isn’t that clear-cut.
The Conservatives got the most votes and won the most parliamentary seats. Labour made the biggest gains. Under the present system, the largest party is given a crack at forming a government (more on this another time). But it should not be forgotten that Theresa May called the election in order to increase her majority and ended up pissing it away completely. The Tories lost 13 seats. Labour, on the other hand, gained 30.
What we’re left with is a government in turmoil, headed by a zombie Prime Minister despised even by her own party, with no majority and no mandate to pursue the draconian policies that lost her the slim majority she did have. So bad are things, in fact, that the only hope for the Conservative party (apparently so proud of their record on LGBT+ rights) is to attempt to crawl into bed with the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.
Ah, the DUP; a party that is anti-LGBT+ and anti-abortion, that has proven and lasting links with UDA paramilitaries. It’s a tired irony already, but the very same Tory party that attacked the idea of a Labour government as being “a coalition of chaos, propped up by terrorist sympathisers” is now wholly reliant on the very same configuration if they hope to pass a single thing in their manifesto.
So where from here? Well, I would put money on there being another general election within 12 months. I’ve predicted it’ll be sooner than many think; my guess is we’ll go to the polls again on October 5th this year. May is, to borrow a phrase from George Osborne, a dead woman walking. She simply cannot last as PM. Polling shows that there isn’t anyone in her party in a strong enough position to replace her.
It really has been an extraordinary weekend, politically. Labour appears stronger than ever and has overtaken the Conservative party in the polls for the first time in I don’t know how long. Conversely, the Tories are a mess. They announced a confidence and supply deal with the DUP, only for the DUP to issue a statement that no such deal had yet been agreed. Then, a first, it was announced that the Queen’s Speech was to be delayed.
On top of that, there has been talk of Brexit negotiation delays, public criticism of the party leadership by Conservative ministers and a tangible shift in tone from news organisations – even those who cheered for a Tory win – which can no longer ignore the fact that May and her party are proving themselves incompetent, ignorant and unwilling to accept reality. Indeed, it took May a whole day to even reference the election result!
I haven’t been able to concisely sum up this election because the story is developing every minute. I planned a neat conclusion to a messy election and have resigned myself to the fact that this post is Part One of many to come. By the time you read this, things may well be very different. Who knows? Maybe we have a Labour minority government now (again, I’ll talk about this another time). Maybe we’ll have PM Boris at No10.
So until we know more I can say little more about the result. Of the campaign, however, I can say that Labour played a blinder and the Tories were left looking not only shambolic but the complete opposite of what they were asking us to believe: They were not and are not Strong or Stable. This, I believe, is to be their downfall. A desperate deal with the DUP will not be enough to save the Tories from the reckoning ahead.