Friday 9 June 2017 – UK General Election result? Well, there wasn’t a result with the poll ending in a Hung Parliament

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Above: Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour party leader Jeremy

 

After a long night of vote counting the Conservative Party, who have been in power in the UK since 2010, have suffered a disastrous result.  They are still the largest party in the new Parliament with the most seats but have lost 12 seats they held in the previous parliament.  This has caused them to lose their parliamentary majority. With just one constituency yet to declare their result the Conservatives have 318 seats.  The Conservatives achieved 42.4% of the popular vote in yesterday’s General Election. That is an increase of 5.5% on their popular vote in 2015.  They required 326 to achieve an outright majority over all other parties combined, and were expecting to have a healthy majority in yesterday’s General Election.  They didn’t and instead Theresa May’s choice to call a snap election three years ahead of the next planned election in 2020 has backfired spectacular and has placed her future as Prime Minister in doubt.  At the moment she is saying she has no intention of resigning and will attempt to form a minority government. More on that later in the post.

 

The Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, whose party was the main opposition to the Conservatives in the last two parliaments have had a fantastic night, when compared to what was expected when the General Election was called in April.  Their leader came to office in a surprise leadership election result in 2015 and survived an attempted overthrow of his leadership last year, increasing his support among the party’s supporters around the country.  His radical socialist policies are traditional Labour policies which have largely been ditched or watered down by successive Labour governments in the last few decades – most notably during the three parliamentary terms of the Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.  Many had written-off Jeremy Corbyn as unelectable and most predicted that this General Election would be a disaster for the party and would see the Conservatives perhaps achieve a landslide majority the likes of which they have not seen since Margaret Thatcher was PM in the 1980s.  However, Corbyn’s power base was his young supporters who have been engaged by his populist and socialist agenda and by their hatred of Conservative austerity, cuts and attacks on the public services and the young in the last seven years.  Labour have run a positive campaign that has managed to overcome the apathy of many potential young voters who have come out in this election and voted Labour.  Labour last night, with one seat left to declare, have achieved 261 seats, a gain of 29 seats on the last parliament.  They were never going to win the election outright at this election, and they never expected they would.  The goal was to wipe out the Conservative majority and that is exactly what has happened.  The Labour party have achieved 40% of the popular vote – they were expecting 35%. Their popular vote was up by 9.5% on 2015.  The increase in popular vote from one election to the next for the Labour party is the largest since 1945.

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Above: Alex Salmond, Angus Robertson, and Scottish National Party leader  Nicola Sturgeon

 

The Scottish National Party (SNP), led by Nicola Sturgeon, have had a bad night in Scotland.  They only contest seats for the Westminster parliament  in Scottish constituencies, meaning they do not put up candidates in any constituencies in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.  In the last election in 2015 they won a record and incredible 56 of the 59 Scottish Westminster constituencies.  The Scots also have their own separate parliament, which is made up of Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs), and the rest of the UK plays no part in that parliament or its elections when they are held.  The SNP dominate in the Scottish Parliament.   The SNP have lost 21 of their Westminster seats in yesterday’s election, and now will have just 35 in the next UK parliament.  Both Labour and the Conservatives have done well in Scotland, having both had disastrous results in Scotland in 2015 with just one seat each.  SNP ended the election yesterday with 3% of the popular vote in the UK-wide election, but of course they only stand in 59 of the 650 UK constituencies.  That is a fall of 1.7% on 2015.  Two prominent SNP MSPs lost their seats last night: their former leader Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson, who was the leader of the SNP at Westminster in the 2015-17 parliament.  Their decline reflects a shift back towards the traditional two-party domination of Labour and the Conservatives.

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Above: Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, and Paul Nuttall, leader of the UKIP

 

The Liberal Democrats, led by Tim Farron, had a better night than expected.  In the last parliament they had just 8 MPs, having been punished for forming a Coalition with the Conservatives in the parliament before that (2010-15), when they had over 50 MPs.  This time they managed to increase their number of MPs from 8 to 12 but have seen their share of the popular vote fall by 0.5%, taking just 7.4% of the popular vote.  Again this follows the trend back toward a two-party domination that has not been seen to this extent in decades.  The biggest loss last night for the Lib Dems was their former leader Nick Clegg who lost his seat in Sheffield Hallam after representing the constituency for 12 years.   His decision to form a Coalition with the Conservatives in 2010 and his reversal on pledges not to raise tuition fees for university students has cost him dear since the Coalition ended in 2015 and has now seen him kicked out of parliament.

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Above: The glum twins – former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage

 

The most satisfying sight of the evening, for me at least, was the collapse of the vote for the UK Independence Party (UKIP).  In 2015 they achieved only 1 parliamentary seat under Britain’s “first-past-the-post” electoral system that disadvantages small parties, but they achieved over 12.5% of the popular vote.  They were largely a one-issue party who were created solely to campaign for the UK to leave the European Union.  This was achieved in 2016 when the UK electorate voted by 52% to 48% to leave the EU.  As a consequence UKIP lost its focus and their support started to move back to where it came from – Labour and in particular Conservative voters who were disillusioned with Europe and their main party’s policies on our membership.  The Conservatives began adopting UKIP ideas, not only on the EU but on issues such as immigration.  In an attempt to settle the argument, David Cameron when Prime Minister in 2013 announced there would be a referendum on our membership of the EU. He never expected people would vote to leave the EU but they did.  UKIP got what they wanted thanks to David Cameron’s lack of backbone, but it led to internal divisions in UKIP and their longtime leader Nigel Farage stood down after the 2015 election.  The party has hemorrhaged votes ever since.  At yesterday’s election they could only manage 1.8% of the vote, dropping a massive 10.8% in the popular vote, and translating to barely 500,000 votes. They also lost the single seat they had in the 2015-17 parliament and now have no representation in the House of Commons.

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Above: leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster

 

As for the other minor parties the most significant one to note at this election is the Democratic Unionist Party, who like the SNP do in Scotland they only  field candidates in Northern Ireland’s Westminster constituencies. Most people outside Northern Ireland don’t really pay much attention to the DUP in elections for the UK parliament and they rarely have any influence over the result.  This time, however, the DUP – led by Arlene Foster – may have real influence. They may even be the power-maker in the Hung Parliament that has resulted from yesterday’s poll.  The reason?  They may give the Conservative enough support in the House of Commons to achieve a majority when they issue bills as a minority government. More on that later.  The DUP have won 10 seats in the new Parliament, two up on 2015.  Their share of the vote is less than 1% of the UK total, but again they only stand in Northern Irish constituencies.  Their share of the vote is irrelevant, what is important is the 10 votes they could give to the Conservatives in the House of Commons lobby. The Conservatives would find it impossible to achieve opposition support from Labour, SNP and Lib Dem MPs,  who have all ruled out any deals with the Tories, so the Tories’  traditional DUP allies could prove crucial in propping up a minority Conservative government.   The DUP are also the largest of the Northern Ireland party’s, with 5 more seats than Sinn Fein.

 

CLICK HERE FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION FULL RESULTS PAGE ON THE BBC NEWS WEBSITE.


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Above: Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May

 

Despite the loss of their majority in yesterday’s General Election, the Prime Minister Theresa May is not giving in to calls for her to resign.  She went to Buckingham Palace this morning for a meeting with the Queen to ask formally for permission to attempt to form a minority government which will be propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) who have 10 seats in Westminster.  Their votes, when added to the Conservative’s 318, will give them a working majority that will enable them to get the Queen’s Speech and Budget through.

 

Speaking after her visit with the Queen, Mrs May said that the Conservatives were the only party with the “legitimacy”  to govern.  She said that she has a “strong relationship” with the DUP and called them “friends” before saying that she was now going to “get to work” on Brexit.  She commented further on the DUP partnership, that it will:

 

“provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical  time for our country. Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years. And this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”

 

This is not a formal Coalition like the one in 2010 with the Liberal Democrats, but will be an informal arrangement with the DUP that would see the DUP “lend” its support to the Conservatives when needed in what is called “confidence and supply.”  She later told reporters that she:

 

“wanted to achieve a larger majority but that was not the result. I’m sorry for all those candidates […]. who weren’t successful, and also particularly sorry for MPs and ministers who’d contributed so much to our country, and who lost their seats and didn’t deserve to lose their seats. As I reflect on the results, I will reflect on what I need to do in the future to take the party forward.”

 

The leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, said that they would “explore how it may be possible to bring stability to this nation at this time of great challenge,” and that while striving for the “best deal”  for Northern Ireland, the DUP would also have the best interests of the UK as a whole in mind.  The DUP are a pro-Union party (i.e. they support Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom). They are in favour of Brexit, despite 74% of the electorate in Northern Ireland voting to remain,  and are regarded as socially conservative, with a reputation for strong, controversial views. The party opposes abortion, which is still illegal in Northern Ireland, and are against same-sex marriage.  One of their 10 MPs is a devout climate change denier and a former MP believes in Creationism and that it should be taught alongside evolution  in science classes.  In this election campaign the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly was endorsed by two loyalist paramilitary groups. 

 

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said that Theresa May should  “make way” for a government that would be “truly representative of the people of this country”.   Despite the Tories getting the most seats, and 57 more seats that Labour, he said that Labour were the “real winners” yesterday.  Mr Corbyn said of his party: “We are ready to serve the people who have put their trust in us.”

 

READ MORE about the DUP or about THEIR MPs.


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Above: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

 

Boris Johnson, who was appointed Foreign Secretary by Theresa May in her first Cabinet last year, has retained his job in her new Cabinet. Mr Johnson said that he was “delighted”  to be reappointed and he had “lots of great work to do for greatest country on earth”. Other ministers who are keeping their jobs are Amber Rudd as Home Secretary, Philip Hammond as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Michael Fallon, Defence Secretary, and David Davis as Brexit Secretary. (READ MORE)


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Above: Labour party leader Jeremy Corybn

 

As  the BBC’s James Landale said today, the General Election result was the “sweetest of defeats” for Jeremy Corbyn.  He won only 261 seats, nearly 60 behind the Tories and even won fewer seats than Neil Kinnock in 1992 but last night’s result has been hailed as a victory of sorts as it exceeded all expectations that most had of Mr Corbyn’s chances at the General Election.  He started the election 20 points behind in the polls and most people saying he was unelectable and that the Tories would win a landslide and Labour would face electoral devastation.  Yet last night swings in the party’s favour across the UK gave him a remarkable 40% of the popular vote, just 3% behind the Conservatives.  The two biggest parties hadn’t won a combined popular vote of over 80% in decades.  Labour won 29 seats more than they did in 2015 under Ed Milliband. Mr Corbyn’s Labour won seats in previous no-go areas for the party in southern England, including in Canterbury and Plymouth.  Most of all he deprived the Tories of their majority.  The result has also secured Mr Corbyn’s position as leader of the Labour Party after two years of constant struggle against his critics in the party, which included an attempt to replace him last year.

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Above: Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail

 

Jeremy Corbýn in this election has run a remarkably positive and dignified campaign. He hasn’t engaged in personal attacks on other leaders, as the Tories have of him. He has calmly faced a barrage of media opposition, propaganda and lies.  He has addressed massive rallies and enthused young people to not only vote but to become actively involved in the Labour election campaign.  Above all he has engaged with the public and media and taken part in TV debates when Theresa May appeared deeply uncomfortable around ordinary people and ran scared from interviews and refused to take part in TV debates head-to-head with other leaders.  Mr Corbyn also smartened up his appearance  and cut his hair, did up his tie and wore a “proper suit.”  He also managed to be authentic, able to empathise like no other leader with the regular public in the country who were suffering from the effects of Tory austerity. He offered radical socialist policies that go against the political tide since the 1970s.  He never compromised on his principles and beliefs – many of which he has held and campaigned for without seeking political favour through compromise for the last 35 years.

 

It is ironic that Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election in April was from an arrogant belief that she would increase the Tories majority and that she would be the only “strong and stable” leader to take the country through Brexit.  The result yesterday has only shown that Mrs May is neither and has made Brexit even harder to negotiate.  She dismissed the Labour party as weak and unelectable but Mr Corbyn has managed to cofound all his critics and has come out of this election still in opposition but a stronger leader of a stronger, larger, reinvigorated and more confident Labour Party.  While Mr Corbyn has put to rest his doubters – with even Lord Mandelson saying he was wrong to doubt him – Mrs May faces an uncertain future as leader of a minority government with many people surely just waiting for the opportunity to stab her in the back.  Her mistake at calling an election is perhaps only surpassed by David Cameron’s decision to allow a referendum on the UK leaving the European Union – which he did with the arrogant belief that the British electorate would vote to remain in the EU.  Mr Cameron did that to quell opposition to Europe in his own party – that failed dramatically.  Mrs May called an election to give her strength in the Brexit negotiations through the mandate of an increased majority – that has failed spectacularly.


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Above: UKIP’s Paul Nuttall at last night’s count in Boston and Skegness

 

After the disastrous night for UKIP, its leader has quit today. Paul Nuttall said of his decision: “I am standing down with immediate effect. This will allow the party to have a new leader in place at the September [party] conference.” Mr Nuttall had stood in the Boston and Skegness constituency but was defeated by the Conservatives who romped home in the seat with a majority of over 16,500.  Mr Nuttall, who had only replaced Nigel Farage as leader in November said: “A new era must begin with a new leader,” and that it had been an honour to serve the party. He added that “it is clear UKIP requires a new focus and new ideas.”

 

MORE ON THE AFTERMATH OF THE SHOCK GENERAL ELECTION RESULT IN MY BLOG TOMORROW…


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