Friday, June 09, 2017

Clenched fists and bloody noses

Afternoon, saboteurs. Feeling crushed? Thought not.

In terms of the actual number of seats, the Tories may still have won, but in terms of Theresa May's own stated objective in calling a snap election - to get a confirmed mandate to push through a hard Brexit - they lost in spectacular and hilarious fashion. Bloody noses rarely come bloodier than the one she's just suffered - which should be a lesson to anyone so full of arrogance and hubris that they think they can make presumptions about the electorate (as if the EU referendum wasn't lesson enough).

Pundits last night - many of them Tories, including a rather gleeful George Osborne - were rightfully scathing about May's election campaign and manifesto. As one commented, running through a wheat field is now relegated to being the second naughtiest thing May has ever done, after wrecking her own party from a position of complete dominance. Meanwhile, mercifully much of what I'd foreseen with regard to Labour (the popular appeal of Jeremy Corbyn, the mobilisation of the youth vote) came to pass, enabling them to secure a result that was utterly unthinkable only a few weeks ago.

Before I made an unprecedented switch from BBC to ITV in exasperation at the bloody awful Laura Kuenssberg, she did make one good point - perhaps saying the hitherto unsayable by suggesting that the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London contributed to Labour's strong performance. As much as the right-wing media sought to smear Corbyn by claiming him to be a terrorist sympathiser, it did seem as though the attacks worked more against May and the Tories because they flagged up her failings as Home Secretary and her party's cuts to policing and poor grasp of security.

Rather than now doing the decent thing and stepping down in embarrassment, though, May is apparently determined to carry on regardless, deaf and blind to the fact that she's lost the confidence of the public. She's got a new catchphrase too, chuntering on about a "government of certainty", lest anyone throws her "coalition of chaos" epithet back at the awkward relationship that the Tories now need to form with the DUP. It will now be much harder for her to do what she wants, or at least to do it with any real legitimacy, but I think we can expect another general election sooner rather than later.

On another extraordinary night for British politics, there was much to celebrate - including the ousting of Tory Nicola Blackwood in my old constituency of Oxford West & Abingdon, which saw Lib Dem candidate Layla Moran overturn a majority of more than 10,000. Of the handful of disappointments, one was the halving of the Green vote (they did, however, retain their one MP, Caroline Lucas) - always likely, though, given Labour's return to the left. The other was Nigel Farage stating that if Brexit is in doubt, then he will feel there is no option for him but to return to politics. The Tories' losses, Ukip's humiliating performance and the subsequent exit of Paul Nuttall (who looked like "a penis in a suit", according to one of my friends, himself a candidate in the election) makes that look like a depressing inevitability.

But let's not end on a negative note, for once. For those of us on the left of the political spectrum, who've taken blow after blow in recent years, this was a hugely encouraging set of results - one that offers more than a glimmer of hope for the future.

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