So that’s it! The election is now over and all that is left now is for Theresa May to try to form a government. And as the losers retire to lick their wounds and the victorious crack open the champagne, the rest of us are left wondering, what now?
For the Conservatives, the election was a disaster. They had no need to call the election; when she became Prime Minister after David Cameron’s resignation, Theresa May was emphatic about not calling an early general election. When she did go to parliament with the request for an election, she claimed it was to ensure she had a mandate for her reforms and Brexit negotiations. Nobody else wanted the election and I still fail to understand why the Conservative hierarchy thought it might be a good idea. In the end, they were returned with a reduced majority after a disastrous campaign that only highlighted why Theresa May shouldn’t be Prime Minister.
On the other hand, Labour had a much better than expected campaign and secured a result far better than anyone could have anticipated. No one thought that Labour could win the election, and many pundits thought, at the beginning at least, that Jeremy Corbyn was a liability that would cost the party seats and influence. How wrong they all were. It seems that despite the antagonism towards him from the Parliamentary Party, Corbyn has a great deal of support on the ground. A lot of young people were encouraged to go out and vote for Labour in support of him. In my own constituency the increased Labour vote pushed the LibDems from first to third place, a result that no one could have anticipated before the election began.
Although they increased their seats, it was not a good night for the LibDems. They saw the loss of their former leader Nick Clegg and their current leader’s majority slashed to less than a thousand. It seems that for the time being at least we have returned to a two party system.
What all this means for the future, who can tell. Can Theresa May continue to lead her party after dragging them into an election that cost them their majority? Will the Labour Party get behind Jeremy Corbyn and get on with the job of holding the government to account? Can the LibDems ever regain the level of support they enjoyed in 2010? Will UKIP finally go away?
For now we just have to sit back and watch and wait as the parties assess the damage and decide what to do next.
One thing I know for sure is that this election has changed the political landscape. I am not so sure now about the future of the LibDems in those constituencies like Southport where the Labour vote has been suppressed by years of tactical voting. Only a change in the electoral system will give people real confidence to vote with their hearts, but what we have seen is a rejection of the tactical vote, despite it being pushed by most of the opposition parties. This may impact on next year’s local elections, and if it continues, it will certainly make the next general election even more unpredictable.
Personally I have always considered myself a Liberal and have almost always voted that way. But I have been impressed by Jeremy Corbyn over the past few weeks, more for his honesty and style than his policies. The more I read and heard, the more convinced I was by what he had to say, so much so that on the day of the election I found myself questioning my loyalty and very nearly cast my vote for Labour. In the end I voted for the candidate I thought would be best for the town, which just happened to be the LibDem. I am not so sure that this will be the case by the time the next election comes around.
I am sure I am not the only person questioning their loyalties today. I now need to go away and have a little think…