General Election 2017 – What now for strong and stable government?

Mike Denness

Seven short weeks ago, Prime Minster Theresa May, buoyed by a big lead in opinion polls of twenty points, thought she could build on the Conservative Party’s fragile majority and called a general election. Mrs May saw an opportunity to gain a strong mandate from the country to take into the Brexit talks and guarantee certainty and stability.

A landslide victory was predicted, but we now see a very different picture. Whilst senior Conservatives are still saying that it was right to call the election, and its still not clear what the final outcome will be, it appears the political gamble by Theresa May has massively backfired.

What we have seen is the return of two party politics. Not since 1970, have the two main parties each achieved over 12 million votes, the smaller parties have retreated as people have clearly seen a need for stability in difficult times and voted Conservatives or Labour. The Liberal Democrats had a mixed night, the party gained a few extra seats and will be delighted to see Sir Vince Cable is back in Parliament, however, former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg lost in Sheffield.

The Conservative campaign and Theresa May in particular, performed badly virtually throughout. What lost the Conservatives the lead in the polls and the election? Was it policy and the manifesto? Was it personnel and the promise of a hard Brexit? Was it the non-appearance at the debates? Did the police cuts and concern about national security or changes to policy and u-turns have an impact?

What now for Jeremy Corbyn, both nationally and within his Labour Party? Clearly Labour went from strength to strength throughout the campaign, and out-performed where virtually every commentator thought they would end up. Will those Labour back-benchers now get behind Jeremy Corbyn? what position will Labour take in a hung parliament and could they still try to form a coalition?

Scotland saw a big swing to the Conservatives from the SNP. Ruth Davidson leader of the Scottish Conservatives felt it had been a historic night for the Conservatives in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon said she will reflect on Indy Ref 2 as Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson lost their seats to the Tories. In London there was a big swing to Labour and we have seen six Government ministers lose their seats including the Minister for Housing Gavin Barwell. UKIP have collapsed, suffering a swing against them of nearly 11% nationally.

Theresa May and the Conservatives have lost the election, but Labour haven’t won either. At a critical time in the future of the country, we now have a level of uncertainty we’ve not seen before, with Brexit talks due to commence in 11 days. The country clearly needs a strong and stable government, which might save Theresa May at least for now. If Theresa May does resign she’ll be the shortest term serving Prime Minster since 1923.

The next few days and weeks promise to be very interesting and far reaching for us all, possibly with another General Election in the autumn!

Mike Denness
mike.deness@localdialogue.com