The UK has voted in Theresa May’s surprise General Election and the result was surprising:
- Labour feel like winners
- Tories feel like losers
- Liberal-Democrats are contemplating annihilation
- The other parties aren’t really sure what happened
The feelings are one thing but the numbers are another. While the result was abrutal pumelling for the Tories, they are still the largest party and the most capable of forming a government. To do that they would need the cooperation of one of Northern Ireland’s Unionist parties the DUP. Luckily Nicholas Whyte exists to explain the significance of that: http://www.apcoworldwide.com/blog/detail/apcoforum/2017/06/09/the-deciding-votes-from-ulster#.WTqkNqLVzwc.facebook
Scotland was doing its own thing in the election as well. There the Tories had a bit of a revival as the Scottish Nationalist Party lost votes to both Labour and Conservatives. Possibly just a side effect of the SNP having had actual power in Scotland for long enough for some voters to be disattisified.
In England and Wales the election result looked more conventional – traditionally Labour areas returning to Labour but in some places the Tories improving their vote at the expense of UKIP (the rightwing vehemently pro-Brexit party). https://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2017/jun/08/live-uk-election-results-in-full-2017
The Guardian’s election map shows constintuenciesas equal size. The net effect is to make the shape of Britain and NI more proportional to population. The big bulging red blobs are major cities and post-industrial towns.
Where Brexit had split the country along new lines was often in those smaller, traditionally labour post-industrial towns.
Even so Brexit still looms large as an issue and it will shape what happens next.
Brexit negotiations are due to start very soon and whoever forms government has to engage with the manner in which the UK will leave the EU. This is more than a poisoned chalice, it is also really hard work and essentially there is no way to win.
For comparison here is the Guardian’s Brexit vote map. Yellow is Remain and Blue is leave. Many Labour MPs represent areas that voted ‘leave’. The overlap of ‘voted Labour” and ‘voted Remain’ is in the bigger cities (aside from Brimingham).
The Brexit deal will be costly and is unlikely to result in outcomes that will match the expectations of the people who voted for leave. At the same time, the large minority of people who voted to remain will definitely be unhappy with whatever deal arises. The only way a government can get through that particular nightmare would be if it had a large parliamentary majority and was also popular and well liked in its non-Brexit policies.
Clearly that is not the case for either Labour or the Tories. Indeed, both have good reasons to not want to form a government and leave the mess to the other party. However, if no party can form a government or if a shakey coalition quickly collapses or a minority government loses a confidence motion etc that will mean ANOTHER general election for the UK in 2017.
Of the two parties, it is Labour that benefits most from a large turnout and suffers most from voter apathy, so yet another election might actually help the Tories recover some seats. However, the electorate are more likely to see a second election as being the fault of the Tories and punish them accordingly.
In addition, the dynamic for Labour has changed – the assumption has been that a Corbyn-led Labour Party was unelectable and that assumption is now demonstrably wrong. What impact would that have in a new election?
We will have to wait and see.