The result of the snap election was so unexpected that for a few head spinning weeks afterwards, it seemed as if we might be entering some sort of new political era. Yet as the dust settles, what is surprising now is just how little has changed.
The Tories, in practice, command a majority that is eerily similar to the one they had going into the general election (albeit, this one requires DUP goodwill which does make it much more volatile). The Lib Dems are a rump compared to their pre-Coalition heyday; the SNP have most of the seats in Scotland; Labour are well short of a majority. Brexit will be going ahead pretty much as planned.
Before the election, Jeremy Corbyn was immoveable as Labour leader and many wondered if Labour could win a general election under him. Labour lost, yet Corbyn’s position has been strengthened, mostly due to the fantasy thinking and low expectations which plague the modern British Left. There was a thought that the election result would unite Labour; yet we see the old position starting to re-assert itself with gusto: the moderates under threat of deselection, surely wondering in secret whether or not to split the party before they are pushed.
The election simply seems to have done little more than speed up the career cycle of Theresa May, bringing her the ignominy she was always absolutely destined for before time. The fact that the Tories have accelerated the process of working their way through their problems while everyone else’s fester (with the exception of the Lib Dems, who have a slender but real chance of rebuilding under Vince) has been lost on almost everyone in the rush to paint the Tories as a party in crisis. Yes, it’s been a very, very bad month for them, but you know what? They are still governing the country, and as the months go by and that remains the case, things have every chance of looking up further for them, particularly if an almighty fight on the Left breaks out, as it looks destined to do (well, that and Corbyn is actively trying to bring it on, of course).
The election changed nothing real. Brexit – going ahead. Tories – still in charge. Labour – still split all over the shop. I guess there is one thing it achieved: the Union looks in better health than it did back in April. I suppose we should all be grateful for that at least.
Much the same, except a bubble has burst and I do not think that the Tories can recreate it.
The Westminster arithmetic may not have changed very much, but there’s been a big change in the public perception of both May and Corbyn. And in the opinion polls, of course.