07 May 2010

Reflections on an extraordinary 20 hours

Well, what an extraordinary election result. I doubt we'll see anything as mental as this again in our lifetimes.

From 10pm when the exit poll first showed the Tories with 307 seats (later revised down to 305) I was absolutely riveted to the screen (although we did take a 20 minute break for curry).

We were scared shitless at about 11, when the Sunderland results came out, that the Tories had done FAR better than the 5.5% swing registered in the exit poll. We were seeing 11% swings in two of those three Sunderland seats (actually I think one was Washington but it was in the north-east conurbation area anyway) and that would have put the Tories home and dry with a big majority. So then we were thinking "shit, it's 1992 again." But then things got pretty weird, with MUCH smaller swings in some of the Tory targets. In fact, in Scotland the Tories were actually losing ground, and London was - in the main - also pretty poor for them.

The most unexpected story of the night was the total failure of the Lib Dems to break through and capitalise on Clegg's performance in the leader debates. There was the odd good result for them - a few good wins off Labour, a gain from the Tories in Eastbourne - but they lost several seats to the most dreadful Tories (including the excellent Evan Harris in Oxford West).

My happiest moment of the night was Caroline Lucas winning Brighton Pavilion for the Greens. I was pleased that James Abbot polled 3% in Witham, in a very tough seat.

The most ludicrous part of the footage? Andrew Neil interviewing various C-list celebrities at some kind of election party in central London. There was the odd good bit of analysis (e.g. Armando Ianucci) but most of this lot were complete space cadets.

In the 2005 election I went to bed at 4am because the results had got so dull but it was a 6am finish this year - at which point the overall vote prediction had only just been computed by the BBC - and only 2 hours' sleep before re-entering the fray at 8am for what seemed to be about 90 minutes' footage of Nick Clegg's car winding its way from St Pancras to Westminster. And then an increasingly motley crew of pundits chewing over the result every which way but loose.

Talk turns now to coalitions and the electoral arithmetic, but I want to take a little time-out before posting on that - maybe later tonight or first thing tomorrow morning. Upfront, it seems to me that Tory minority govt is the most likely outcome of this impasse - but several other options are possible, which I'll go through in more detail tomorrow.

Love to all. It's been an emotional classic.


Van Patten said...

I would say if a PR system is introduced of whatever type it's highly probable this kind of power sharing /horse trading over coalition government will become the norm. One of the lowlights for me was Mandelson becoming an advocate for electoral reform. Surely you feel uncomfortable with such a shameless opportunist joining your ranks for voting reform? The most corrupt politician in UK history (at least since 1832) advocating a change from FPTP - unbelievable!

One key point you make out is the election of the First Green MP. The first time a collection of anti - British misanthropes have ever made it to Parliament. What's truly scary is that in such a delicately balanced party split, the influence Lucas (whose website is truly one of the most depressing I've ever seen - the policies seem to amount to taxing Labour mobility and anyone with whit enough to earn a high income, combined with mind-numbing addiction to spending yet more money on state-sponsored job creation, and yet more on policies and officials to weed out almost totally fictitious 'discrimination' - in fact discrimination continues to be enshrined by law only against White, middle class, heterosexual men - strngely they don't seem to merit the Green's protection?) might have is really scary. The road to Pyongyang just got a LOT shorter!

Voller said...

I would agree that there is much to be depressed about on Caroline Lucas' website i.e. the subject matter against which she is campaigning. If it is "anti-British" to speak out about animal experiments, threats to our environment and discrimination then you can count me as anti-British too. (Though you would be daft to do so because I am neither anti-British nor pro-British. I am what I am. I happened to be born in this country, and I quite like it thank you very much, but none of us gets to choose where we are born so I honestly don't really get what nationalism is all about.
We won't solve the problems facing the world today by worrying only about what goes on inside our borders.)

And by the way, VP, don't kid yourself that everyone out there on a high income has got there through intelligence, entrepreneurship or perseverance. Some have, of course, but there's still a significant class of 'born monied' people and I say tax them to the hilt. Most of us who have managed to work our way to achieving a reasonably decent income tend to recognise and are grateful for some of the breaks we got along the way (e.g. a stable and supportive family, decent state education etc.) and realise that not everyone is so fortunate. I therefore do not resent a taxation system that goes some way towards redressing that balance.

giroscoper said...

Van Patten - how anyone can view the election outcome of 48 hours ago as some kind of argument for FPTP is beyond me. I don't often agree with Mandelson but on this issue - at this time - he's right.

The Green Party are probably the only true patriots in the UK - committed to an economic programme which will get us out of the current mess. From that perspective, I think having Caroline Lucas in the govt is extremely welcome.

giroscoper said...

Sorry - of course I meant "Caroline Lucas in parliament" not "in govt" (although if there is a rainbow coalition, anything's possible!)