I need to start off by saying that I very badly got the election wrong in terms of what I predicted, being sure of a Tory landslide right up until the exit poll was released last night. So take everything I say for a while with a grain of salt as my finger is not on the pulse of the nation at present, clearly. Yet while I can’t predict what is in the minds of 40 million or so voters up and down the country, it seems to me getting clear at least what we’re in for in the coming weeks.
For all the cheering from the Left, this result is only good in any way by context. If you thought that Labour was facing existential wipeout, going below the 200 seat mark for the first time in a very, very long time, then gaining 30-odd seats off the Tories can look like a stonking victory. But it was still a loss, even thought the Tories didn’t win either. Worse, Corbyn is totally vindicated by the result, and has now solidified his leadership for as long as he wants it. What do the moderates do now? In one sense, they know Labour will be in the hands of the hard left for the foreseeable future, so why bother to hang around? On the other hand, they have just witnessed the strength of the Labour brand at work. There is clearly a large craving for a Labour government amongst a lot of the population, and if they could win round centrist voters I could imagine Labour getting a large majority – so too could the Labour moderates, no doubt. A new party wouldn’t have that going for it. So what the hell do they do?
The Lib Dems had a good night, but again in context. Seen from when the general election was called, ending up with 12 seats (at time of writing – there are some recounts underway) would have seemed like a real disappointment, particularly when you throw Clegg losing his seat into the mix and the fact that without the SNP’s meltdown, it would have been a really bad result. But given the campaign’s failure to launch, the Lib Dems have ended up happy. Yet you have to ask where the party goes from here. Other than the few places where it managed to win, the Lib Dem vote was down, even on 2015.
Finally, and I have been very wrong of late so again, take this with a pinch, but the way I see it by far the most likely government now is a Tory-DUP coalition, with May as PM for a few months before Boris becomes prime minister. That hardly seems like something progressives should be cheering about myself. Also, there is a lot of talk on social media about the idea that we’re going to be staying in the single market now for sure, or maybe even that Brexit will be reversed. For context, the DUP aren’t Northern Irish Tories – more like Northern Irish UKIP. I can only see Brexit getting harder from where we are now than if May had ended up with a comfy majority, particularly since the argument can be made that Labour campaigned on a hard Brexit as well meaning most of the country still voted for it. Again, maybe I’m missing something, but that’s what it seems like from here.
I’ll close by saying I won’t be making hard predictions about general elections again, so you can all relax on that front!