Well then. This election has been utterly surreal, and though there are obvious winners (YouGov, Corbyn) and losers (May) – almost everyone has been proven wrong. My last column, I was concerned that a Labour loss with high youth turnout might lead to disillusionment among young voters, and quietly trying not to get too optimistic about Labour’s chances. Thankfully, most people seem enthused and engaged, so it’s nice to see people not getting too downhearted about a Labour loss. But what if you’ve not been following this election, and need a quick guide? Here’s my guide to the Election of 2017.
May’s supposed landslide victory didn’t materialise, with Labour outperforming most polling to achieve their first gain since 1997. Trends to note from the night – Scotland going more Tory, the Lib Dem fightback being a damp squib, and the UKIP vote collapsing into both Tory and Labour. UKIP to Labour in particular is a swing to watch in the months and years to come. Labour had an impressive night, and did very well, as they gained some new, unlikely seats – Kensington, for instance, and also felled some Tory big beasts – taking down 8 ministers, and forcing Amber Rudd into enough recounts to keep the UK calculator industry in business for years. The SNP saw losses in Scotland, with Ruth Davidson leading the Scottish Conservatives to an utterly excellent night for them. Alex Salmond lost his seat in a blow to the SNP, and Labour picked up a couple of Scottish seats. Lib Dems had an average night, seeing the return of Sir Vince Cable and the demise of Nick Clegg. (Excuse me while I finish laughing.)
Depends who you ask. Though Labour outperformed expectations (and ran an excellent campaign), they still didn’t win – regardless of social media jubilation about Corbyn doing quite well. The Tories, expecting a landslide, were chastened last night and lost seats, while Labour gained – though not enough to form a Government, which resulted in a hung parliament.
What’s a hung Parliament and who’s running the country now?
No party had the requisite number of seats to form a Government on their own. The Conservatives had the largest number of votes and seats, and thus were the best placed party to form a Government. They’ve gone into a coalition with the DUP.
Who are the DUP, and should I run for the hills?
The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party are the party propping up May’s government, giving her just enough power to maintain a slender majority. Their greatest hits include: having representatives not being sure if evolution exists, being openly homophobic, and being anti-abortion. So far, so grim. Should we all be worried? Well, yes and no. Though all civic-minded people ought to oppose the wrongheaded nature of much of the DUP platform, you don’t need to worry that they’re going to force the UK into some dystopic hell-scape. It’s not a coalition of equals – or a formal coalition. The way it will likely work is that the Tories will fund some DUP policies in return for the DUP passing the Budget. In terms of what those policies will be, the DUP still has only ten seats, so it’s unlikely that May is going to be passing draconian measures in line with DUP social policy. The take home headline here is not to expect instant doom, but rather remain vigilant. The DUP in government marks a saddening turn for those of us who are socially liberal, and there’s little denying that seeing them prop up a Government will likely be a real source of concern for many. I take comfort from seeing a swell of opposition to them already.
What about the Leaders? What’s happening there?
Some real winners and losers here. May’s position has never been shakier – rumours that she’s lost support from CCHQ abound, with anthropomorphic mop Boris Johnson allegedly making some noises towards the notion of supplanting May. If a leadership challenge is mounted, it will likely be a proper scrap, with Johnson and other senior Tory figures involved. Farron could be another leader to face a leadership challenge now Sir Vince Cable has returned to parliament, and the Lib Dem’s middling night. Paul Nuttall, with whom I share a city of origin (He was, however, notoriously dubbed a ‘bad Bootle UKIP meff’ in a proud Scouse moment) has stepped down, to be replaced by… well, anyone really, as UKIP continues on the slow slide to oblivion, having seen its vote-share cut. The Greens will almost certainly continue with their joint leaders, as let’s face it, who on earth is going to challenge Caroline Lucas. Take into account that the Green vote-share has halved, with the Greens smashing Brighton Pavilion but returning poorly everywhere else, and it’s hard to see a Green Party without Lucas. Meanwhile, Labour’s leader has shored up his position in the party, and a leadership challenge would be little more than a bunfight that would likely be unsuccessful for any centrist candidate. Third-way politics as the party’s only path to power took a real pounding in the sphere of public argument last night, and there’s little denying that the left seems to be ascendant in the party, for better or worse. Furthermore, it’s now abundantly clear that Corbyn has energised an awful lot of people, and ran a great campaign. For Labour supporters, there’s nothing left other than to hope the party can continue its momentum (pun unintended) to potential future victory.
Anything to take from May’s speech this morning?
Well, she opens with a clear nod to Northern Ireland – referring to her party as the Conservative and Unionist Party, which isn’t incorrect, but happens fairly infrequently – it’s like Labour and the Co-Operative Party. She tried to portray the election as business as usual, which basically no-one bought, and then made some reference to doing whatever needed to tackle extremism, which could be a reference to the Human Rights Act and her desire to scrap it.
Who’s Lord Buckethead?
A joke candidate who ran against, then dabbed next to, Theresa May. His manifesto promised to nationalise Adele though, which I’m basically for if it means we all get tickets to her next concert.