Election 2017: Now the real fun starts

Not a vote has yet been counted, but we do know some things already

June 08, 2017 12:01

As I write, not a single vote has been counted. So we will have to wait until tomorrow for analysis of the results of this most odd of elections.

But there are some conclusions that are almost better drawn now than once we are guided by the result.

It is, for example, perfectly possible – in my view almost certain – that Theresa May will be returned to power with a big majority. (For what it’s worth, I think it’ll be between 60 and 70). And were one to look at that in isolation, it would seem a pretty good achievement.

But she will have managed it – bizarrely, really – at the cost of almost all her authority. First, because the Tory campaign was, to be blunt, rubbish. In 2015 the campaign was the culmination of years of work. This time round it was the culmination of days of work.

No one saw it coming – not even Mrs May, until she decided to go with the polls. So despite her attempt to make this an election about Brexit, there was no clear theme, and a real sense of purposelessness from the Tories. Mrs May clearly thought that not being Jeremy Corbyn was enough.

It might well have been to win, and win big. But it has certainly not been enough to stamp her authority on the Conservative Party. Quite the opposite, because one thing I would stake my mortage on is that she will not lead the Tories into another election.

As for Mr Corbyn, he has fought the only campaign he could. He has played to his strengths – a fantasy politics that the Labour members who twice elected him leader love, and which clearly excites many people who have never before felt happy with mainstream Labour.

But – and here’s where I am moving into prediction rather than pure analysis – there simply are not enough of such people to win an election. And it could well be that Mr Corbyn manages a double whammy – winning enough support to persuade his party that his brand of politics has real support and so he should stay, but in so doing condemning Labour to electoral irrelevance because it has hit its ceiling.

Whatever happens overnight, one thing is certain: politics is going to be as riveting over the next few years as it has been over the past few years.

See all our Election 2017 coverage here

June 08, 2017 12:01

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