THE GENERAL ELECTION results are nearly all in – but the verdict is that there are no winners.
The Tories have lost around twelve seats. Theresa May called the “cut and run” election to strengthen her position and increase her majority – but her gamble did not pay off. No Prime Minister has made such an error of judgement since… well, since David Cameron thought he could win a referendum. The Tories will not have any majority at all – though they may have a tiny working majority if the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) vote with them, as they usually do.
Labour rebels forecast that Jeremy Corbyn would lose Labour seats – and were speculating on whether he could even get 200 MPs elected. He appears to have 261 Labour MPs – 29 more than in the last Parliament. There were a number of very close seats which Labour lost by very small numbers: a little more luck, and Labour could have been much closer to the Tories. Labour MP after Labour MP lined up over the course of election broadcasts to congratulate Corbyn – some through gritted teeth, others not.
The Liberal Democrats have soared up to twelve seats – up four from the last Parliament. Their supporters have not forgiven them for the tuition fees matter, and they were squeezed as voters (English ones, at least) concentrated on the parties that could form a government.
The two national parties played a crucial role. Plaid Cymru were one seat up in Wales – from three MPs to four. Those are seats which could have gone to Labour – but Plaid would be more likely to back Labour forming a government than the Tories doing so, so there is little need to cry over that spilt milk.
It is Scotland where things went wrong for Labour. The Scottish National Party (SNP) went into the election with 56 MPs, but came out with just 35. The Tories won 13 seats (up twelve) – which were crucial in enabling the Tories to get to a place from which they could govern with the help of the DUP. Labour won seven of these seats and the Lib-Dems four.
In terms of the political parties, this result means there will be more turmoil in the Tory Party and more stability in Labour. Theresa May is trying to stay on as Prime Minister – but various other leading Tories are clearly planning a challenge. Jeremy Corbyn is definitely staying on as Labour Leader – and the rebel MPs who challenged him before, and were hoping to do so again, are in disarray and having to admit that there is not only little way they can beat him, there is also little point.
In terms of Government, this result could mean anything. Theresa May will try to continue as Prime Minister – but John McDonnell has made it clear that Labour will try to form a minority government. How long either government could last, amid Brexit and such divergent domestic and foreign policy agendas, is not clear.
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