I realise it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, which was a long blog entry about the election. I’ve been busy at work, and also had lots of things to read in Pocket. Now that I’ve cleared my reading list, and my workload has eased off a bit, I’ll hopefully be able to write a bit more again.
The election result
Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it? Part of the reason for my long blog post on the 8th June was to get as many of my thoughts written down before the result was announced. That way, no-one could accuse me of basing my opinions on the results.
As a Labour party member, I think the result is the best we could have hoped for. I predicted that the Conservatives would do better with a tiny majority, and a government minister would lose their seat. Neither happened; the Conservatives actually lost their majority, and I think all government ministers retained their seats. Although, in the case of Amber Rudd, the home secretary, only just – she retained her seat by just a few hundred votes, and after several recounts.
Some of the polls accurately predicted a hung parliament and so it will be interesting to see what their methodology was. Especially as a hung parliament seemed to be least likely result, based on what most of the polls were saying.
The exit poll was also quite accurate; I ended up staying up for it, and then a little while after. This was the first national election or referendum where I have been pleased with the result since 2005 – I supported a yes vote in the AV referendum in 2011, and Remain in last year’s EU referendum.
As I write this, we have a minority government which, more than two weeks after the election, has only just agreed a deal with another party. I mean, literally as I write this – I had to change this paragraph before posting as the news came through whilst I was writing it.
The deal is with the Democratic Unionist Party – DUP, a Northern Irish party with 10 MPs that has very regressive policies (in my view) when it comes to LGBT+ people, and towards abortion. It’s thanks to them that abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK, and same sex couples cannot get married there (although I believe that they can travel to Scotland and get married there). Even the Republic of Ireland has same-sex marriage now, following a 2015 referendum. This is despite the Republic of Ireland being a mostly Catholic country.
The deal with the DUP is not a formal coalition, like the deal the Conservatives made with the Liberal Democrats in 2010. It just means that the DUP will agree to vote with the government in the House of Commons, so that legislation can be passed. The first big test will be the vote on last week’s Queen’s Speech; if the government loses the vote, then we could end up in no confidence situation. And that could lead to another general election!
Whilst I think a vote of no confidence in the government is unlikely within the next few weeks, I would also be very surprised if this government makes it to 2022 when its five year term in Parliament officially runs out. The recent tragic events at Grenfell Tower are, in my mind, a result of seven years of austerity. As much as I hate to politicise a tragedy, I feel that it was political decisions, made by both local and national governments, that resulted in the fire being as bad as it was. The same applies to the recent terror attacks during the election campaign.
Recent post-election polls suggest that Labour would win the most votes in another snap election, and perhaps even a majority, making Jeremy Corbyn our prime minister. Though he didn’t win the election, it was still a very good result for Labour and I think he has been right to stay on as leader of the party. I hope that the rest of the Labour Party can rally behind him, and show that the party is united. Especially at a time when the Conservatives are clinging on with a minority government, led by a leader who made a huge gamble and lost, and whose speeches consist of little more than over-repeated soundbites.
For the first time in many years, I’m feeling more positive about the political mood in this country. Last year, after a majority of votes in the EU referendum chose to leave, it felt like I didn’t know my own country anymore. Now, I’m pleased to see the youth vote galvanised, with a big increase in turnout. Politicians will have to appeal to voters of all ages, rather than simply chase the votes of those most likely to actually take part – generally older people. Young people have it hard, with higher youth unemployment, higher university costs and an almost completely inaccessible property market. Maybe now, we’ll see more policies designed to help, and Labour’s manifesto for this election was a good start.