Monday 12 June 2017

Election 2017: Who saw this result coming?

Last Thursday with 2 hours left before the polls closed, I popped into one of my local betting shops and put a bet of £20 on The Conservative Party to win the General Election with a majority of 50 - 75 seats. I felt pretty confident, but as a 'hedge' bet I also had money on a Tory majority of over 75 seats.

Chatting about the election with the guy who took my bet, he said I shouldn't rule out the possibility of a hung parliament. I didn't hide my scepticism to that thought and went home confident that I was going to pick up some money the next day.

I'm sure you can imagine my surprise along with so many other people in the country when the exit poll was revealed at 10. I think I spent the next two hours in state of disbelief. Yet again the opinion polls got it completely wrong and all the assumptions about this election and the expected result proved to be a million miles off the mark.

The result of a hung parliament is an absolute humiliation for Teresa May and the Conservatives. I know life is about taking risks and it was always a risk to call this election but the odds were in her favour.

It's clear that the Tories fought an appalling campaign. I agree with the thought that it wasn't particularly positive or inspiring. It assumed that ultimately not enough Labour supporters would back a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party. What is evident is that although Teresa May has been a front line politician for over a decade, it was only in this election campaign that the public got a chance to really know her. What I and everyone else discovered is that she is a terrible campaigner with little personality or charisma.

She remains as Prime Minister for now, telling her party that she got them into this mess and is the person to get them out of it. She's on borrowed time and would have gone if it wasn't for next week's Brexit negotiations and the fact there is no obvious candidate to become the new Tory leader.

A personal victory for Jeremy Corbyn: Time to eat humble pie?

At the start of the year, I genuinely felt that Labour would end up with under 200 seats in Parliament. I thought any General Election would damage Labour so badly it would take at least another 10 - 15 years for Labour to become electable again. I couldn't see how a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party could ever succeed when a left wing manifesto was put to the British people. Ultimately I thought he was incompetent and unelectable!

Well like many people it's time for me to admit that some of these assumptions were wrong. I'm not going to apologies for these views as many of Labour MPs agreed with me.

I've been incredibly critical on Jeremy Corbyn since he became Labour Leader. I voted in both Labour leadership elections in 2015 and 2016 and voted against him. I have to admit he had a great campaign. He's grown into the role of leader. He seemed to enjoy his time meeting voters around the country unlike Teresa May. And he was positive and optimistic in his message.

He put forward every left wingers dream manifesto. More nationalisation, an end to austerity, more taxes for the rich, investment for the NHS. Populist and left wing. Whether Labour could deliver any of this is another question but it galvanised voters, especially young people who finally realised that if you come out and vote then collectively you can make a difference.

It was a great achievement for Labour to gain seats but it shouldn't be forgotten that ultimately Labour lost the election. The performance is a moral victory which is something the left love to indulge in.

Despite recognising that Jeremy Corbyn has improved as a leader and has earned to right to continue leading the Labour Party, it doesn't mean that I'm going to abandon all of my previous views and jump on a 'Jez we can' bandwagon.

For the last 35 years Corbyn has stuck rigidly to his views and values and has been lauded for his "principled" stance. Well many of us across the political spectrum have principles it's not something unique to leftwingers.

There are still policies proposed by Labour I don't agree with. Parts of their manifesto could cynically be described as a populist bribe. I'm unconvinced that many of the promises made could be implemented but I've realised that Corbyn supporter simply don't care.

Labour are still a long way from being in government. They need at least another 70 seats to gain a small majority and still need to convince more of the electorate that they are ready for power. However, judging by the ineptitude of the Conservatives - Labour might just be in with a chance.

A period of chaos

Putting aside the performance of Labour and the Tories, my immediate thoughts on Thursday night centered on the view that as a country we are in chaos. We are about to embark on negotiations to leave the EU. Instead of having the 'strong and stable' government that was promised to deal with the biggest issue facing the country since the 2nd World War.

We have a government in crisis that is being propped up by the ultra conservative Northern Irish DUP.

The rest of Europe must be laughing at us. With Brexit and now this election I feel embarrassed at the state we now find ourselves in. Rather than thinking we can all have some time off from politics and elections we can instead look forward to another election within the next 12 months and more Brexit talks!

Sometimes I wish I wasn't interested in politics!

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