I must admit, I don’t often post my colours, since I no longer live in the UK. But since I resolutely refuse to sign up to any political tribe, I found myself rather dismayed to notice that my voting intention was consistent with that anticipated from my peers and generation. Ugh. Belonging to the over-sixties’ ‘disgusted from Tunbridge Wells’ isn’t a place that’s particularly comfortable for a professional bystander like me.
So, what happened? Labour did better than expected because they had a better strategy. They ran a far smarter campaign and, even though the youth vote was “bought” (let them howl and rage, it’s true) with undeliverable promises of free tuition, the cancellation of student debts etc, overall the Reds were coherent, on-message and smart. May, on the other hand, ran a scattered, messily unfocused campaign that failed to leverage any Tory strengths and had no message which might have resonated. Nothing about the economic differences between free-market conservatives versus Hugo Chavez socialism. Very little detail on Brexit. Sloppy tactics on how to address the Islamist extremist issue.
That said, sometime this evening, perhaps, it will slowly dawn on all the jubilant Labour voters that, well, they lost. Two million more votes were cast for the Blues than last time. Poor Reds. They didn’t get a majority. They didn’t kick the Tories out. They’re not going to be able to raise taxes on the rich. They’re not going to be able to scrap tuition fees. Corbyn’s banging on about more pay for nurses and renationalising the railways wasn’t enough. They’re not going to be redecorating Number 10. And Jeremy Corbyn will still be standing on the opposite side at PMQs in a rumpled suit reading out made-up emails with questions from imaginary people. If the goal was to keep the Tories out, they failed.
As for ‘strong and stable’ a government that will not raise taxes, won’t be able to start any more wars and allows business to get on with preparing for Brexit, seems pretty close to “stable” if not particularly “strong”. The alternative, having Corbynistas negotiating on our behalf whilst Diane Abbott keeps us safe and secure, would have been a good deal scarier.