THE BLOG

The Election Results Is Much Ado About Nothing

12/06/2017 16:23 BST | Updated 12/06/2017 16:23 BST
aja84 via Getty Images

SNP wipeout, the fall of Clegg and Salmond, the youth turnout, but at the end of the day - Theresa May has formed a majority government of 327 with the DUP, only three seats short of Cameron's 331. It is going to take a couple of days for that fact to become a cumbersome dead weight in the minds of Labour voters. One can cite the 40% popular vote of Corbyn but the fact is, more of the British public voted for Theresa May. The absent youth in the EU referendum having cast their ballot this time round have managed to increase Labour seats yet it still leave them 56 seats short. There is a more worrying side effect that we have overlooked in the month of campaign blitz.

We have been left with a country more polarised than ever. In a hall of fame move by accident or intention, the leaking of the Labour manifesto, which got the ball rolling, put the Tories on the backfoot and created momentum for Labour. But all it has achieved is the confounding of expectations. An expectation set so low, people were wondering if Corbyn was going to out-perform Michael Foot who received 28% of the British vote. Well he has done much more than that.

The rampant populism of the campaign striking at the throbbing heart strings of the youth has caused another unwanted divide in British politics. We have another discernable difference to categorise ourselves with politically, age is now confirmed into the list of characteristics along with the usual suspects which already include geography, wealth and many more.

If it could not get any worse, Theresa May has now been backed into a coalition with the DUP. A party built on social conservatism, actively engaging in climate change denial, pro-life and pro-Brexit campaigning. We have forced them to cooperate with the fringes of the political spectrum, a force capable of holding the Conservatives hostage on any issue.

We have a country of two parties each holding around 40% of the vote, separated by a chasm. On the one hand we have a searing socialist agenda, aiming for the nationalisation of almost all services and utilities from education to water supply. On the other hand we have a party willing to privatise the NHS, further cut corporation tax and bring back grammar schools. These two campaigns have grabbed each policy area and in turn have shoved a wedge in between them. Asking the voter to pick black or white, good or evil. The wedge is so divisive, once a side has been picked, any whispers of opposing ideology generates confrontation.

I am describing polarisation and it would be comforting to be able to distance myself while sitting on the biggest moral high horse I can find but I can't. As a Lib Dem, we have done exactly the same in form of Brexit and a second referendum. Asking the electorate to re-open old wounds. Failure to experience the same surge as Labour, the middle has fallen but it is not lost.

A part of me with the aid of hindsight is wondering if Lib Dems would have achieved more by leaving the anti-Brexit agenda with the Greens. Instead, running a similar campaign with a better costed progressive manifesto (IFS), that commits increased funding in education, housing and in the NHS. One that would reverse all the cuts made to welfare, which the Labour manifesto fails to do. One that would be better for the income of the poorest in our society, more so than Labour. But we still could not persuade voters because the polarisation of the Brexit vote and especially of the post-Brexit attitude left no room for movement. Once people identified Labour as the protest vote, there was even less we could do.

We need to take a step back now as members of the Anti-Tory brigade. What have we have been left with and how did we get there?

A Conservative majority following a divisive process facilitated by all parties. It has left a country battered and bruised and still aching at the seams due to austerity. An health service being further privatised, an education system begging for money and do not think for one second that will change under a Conservative government renewed for a second term.

For Labour, revel in your success, you have deserved it but be aware of why it tastes so sweet. Exceeding expectations has its own trappings. The fight is only just beginning, and it is only going to get dirtier.