You know how Puffles never swears?
I was expecting a Tory majority of around 60 seats. Anything more and Tory dreamland, anything less than their existing majority and Theresa May would be in trouble. That we’ve ended up with a hung parliament after having such a huge lead in the opinion polls alongside the full on furore of the print media – only the Mirror Group being the only print media group of note supporting Labour as they have done throughout the decades. Today we have seen the Prime Minister calling the whole situation ‘a mess’.
It remains to be seen what sort of deal the Tories can stitch up with the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland (whose social policies have already resulted in planned demonstrations in Great Britain – with progressive activists in Northern Ireland wondering what took us so long to catch up with news there), as Parliament returns on Tuesday and the scheduled Queen’s Speech already delayed.
Labour do better than expected
Rather than losing seats, Labour gained a number of seats from the Conservatives and also the Liberal Democrats. It remains to be seen whether the party will unite behind Corbyn. Some on the Progress wing of the party say that with such a weak Conservative administration Labour should have won. Some on the far left wing and beyond (ie outside of the party) are saying that if the Progress wing had been more loyal, Labour would have won. The party’s communications operation is still a liability, making far too many basic errors. The decentralised grassroots campaigning – especially online, was excellent to the extent that they outfoxed the high-spending Conservatives whose online campaigning failed to hit home. What the Conservative strategists forgot is that the messenger counts big time. If political content is shared by a trusted source – a close friend, it’s more likely to have an impact than if it is from a paid advert. Furthermore, Labour activists were sharing content about policies – while the Tories were noticeably policy-lite.
The impact of Corbyn’s success also suppressed both the Liberal Democrats and The Green Party – the latter getting only half as many votes as in 2015 – but still returning Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion with an even bigger majority. UKIP should also be toast with this result – their leader resigning. However, the broadcast media still keep on coming back to them.
The Liberal Democrat rebound fails to materialise
Epitomised by Dr Julian Huppert’s defeat to Daniel Zeichner of Labour by a thumping 13,000 votes, the Liberal Democrats only returned 14 MPs. In my book they needed at least 20 MPs including Dr Huppert alongside several other high profile, up-and-coming, or senior politicians. The loss of Nick Clegg was a massive blow. Fortunately for the party, they have three former ministers – two former Cabinet, returning. Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Jo Swinson will be indispensable to Tim Farron who, in the grand scheme of things couldn’t do much more (other than not get into a tangle about his religion at the start of the campaign). Given the scale of the Labour swing, it’s difficult to see how the party could have stopped this.
Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and South East Cambridgeshire
I was at the count at The Guildhall.
Me at The Guildhall, Cambridge
Famous last words – a narrow margin. This is what the other parties were up against on polling day:
They were up at 5am.
…with this lot following up.
The thing is, Julian only lost a couple of thousand votes compared to last time. In one sense that’s the equivalent of the leaving students and researchers that voted for him last time, replaced by students unfamiliar with him.
Lib Dems and Greens fall short, while Conservatives fail to take full advantage of no UKIP candidate
Only around 1,000 voters seemed to switch to the Tories from UKIP – the others either switching to other parties or not at all. There was a higher turnout on a more accurate (and thus smaller) electoral roll – high annual population churn due to the presence of the universities and short term research contracts too.
The Greens collapsed back to their core vote despite a very strong showing by Stuart Tuckwood at the hustings. All of the other candidates paid tribute to the high calibre candidate he was, even though it didn’t reflect in the votes. The problem the Greens have at the moment is they no longer have an active student society working side-by-side with the city party in the way that Labour quite clearly does.
It’s difficult to say why Dr Huppert’s campaign did not secure more votes than last time – especially given city anger over Brexit and Mr Corbyn’s national policy being supportive of Brexit. Mr Zeichner being prepared to go public against national policy both in votes and consistently in public speeches throughout his time as MP (i.e. being against Brexit in principle) meant that he had a response to any accusation from Dr Huppert.
Finally, Dr John Hayward for the Conservatives – who campaigned to leave the EU – was something of a lightning conductor on this issue at the hustings. The public seemed to relish throwing their anger at him and he seemed to enjoy the verbal rough and tumble of the exchanges with his preferred policy being implemented. That said, it meant that the public did not get to see Dr Huppert or Mr Zeichner really going head-to-head on Brexit or other issues.
Heidi Allen increased both her share of the vote and total number of votes – despite Brexit, which some of us (myself included) thought might cost her. That said, there was an even higher turnout than in 2015 (by 3 percentage points higher). Labour’s Dan Greef added an extra 7,000 votes to his 2015 total, while Susan van de Ven for the Liberal Democrats managed to add 3,000 votes to the Liberal Democrats’ total in 2015 – a low point following the coalition, but still a long way off the 20,000 they polled in 2010.
Again as in Cambridge, Simon Saggers for The Greens saw his vote more than halved as left-of-centre/left-wing voters switched back to the main parties, while UKIP didn’t stand. Yet given demographic change and rapid housing growth, in 15 years time this constituency could well become a marginal (assuming the boundaries are not redrawn).
South East Cambridgeshire
With UKIP not standing and The Greens forming a local progressive alliance with Labour, Huw Jones’ votes rose considerably to over 17,000. Lucy Nethsingha held up the Lib Dems vote from 2015, but it could not stop Lucy Frazer from taking over 50% of the vote with an increased total as well.
Yet the nature of the campaigns and hustings in both South Cambridgeshire and South East Cambridgeshire show that there is a demand from residents to be more involved in politics. The challenge for both Labour and the Liberal Democrats is whether they can identify where the mini-hotbeds of support are in the south of the county and do some targeted campaigning in future elections.
Which is where we are now, and the crazy afternoon online about whether there was going to be a delay to the Queen’s Speech because of the time it takes to write something on vellum.
Yes – really.
My understanding is that of Caroline’s above. Certainly until very recently it was Acts of Parliament (not Queen’s speeches or other papers) that were printed on vellum.
You can arrange a visit to the archives as I did back in 2004 and see all of these rolls. The latest word on the matter prior to today was this discussion between the Commons and the Lords. In the grand scheme of things, vellum preserves extremely well – far better than standard paper. Also, you can read it straight off unlike electronic media where you need hardware and software. Digital data stores also degrade over time – floppy disks, hard drives and so on need continuous copying over time.