The morning after
Priority no,1: Tories out. Verdict: epic fail
Obviously my biggest desire for this election was my biggest disappointment. As I write this, it's looking like the Conservatives will have just enough seats to form a majority government, without even the almost negligible restraining power of their Lib Dem partners. That's a disaster, for the NHS, for the economy, for schools and for the continuation of the United Kingdom.
Labour needed to make considerable advances to win, and it failed to do so. But while the media narrative is of Tory electoral triumph, it is important to note that Labour increased its popular vote share from 2010 and that the Conservatives lost theirs, and that in England Labour has increased its vote share everywhere (most dramatically in London) apart from the Northeast (where its majority was already enormous) and the East. The Tory victory in the first past the post system was partly a result of the extraordinary SNP surge in Scotland which has effectively wiped out Labour in one of its heartlands, a topic that I plan to write about when the dust settles (Labour took more far seats than it lost in England and Wales) and partly due to Lib Dem losses to Tories.
Priority no.2: Contain the rise of UKIP. Verdict: mixed
We can take some comfort in Nigel Farage not taking the seat he stood in and the Conservatives decisively regaining Rochester and Strood from their former MP Mark Reckless (one of the few times in my life I've taken joy from a Conservative gain). Carswell keeping Clacton is hardly a UKIP victory, as Carswell was surely the least UKIPy and most Tory of UKIP candidates. Farage's promised resignation will be pleasurable, although the next leader may be scarier.
On the other hand, the surge in UKIP votes, to 13% (making it the third most popular party) is depressing. Most depressing is how well it did in working class areas in the East, Northeast and Yorkshire, places like Hartlepool, Boston, Rotherham, Although UKIP's vote was stronger in more affluent parts of the Southeast and commuterbelt, the results in the rustbelt show that the left urgently needs to think hard about the strategy it has used against UKIP up to now. Some will call for more UKIP-friendly Labour policies - tougher on immigration - but I think UKIP voters won't be persuaded by the pale imitation, plus it will feed the narrative on which UKIP thrives. But what is certain is that sneering at UKIP voters as ignorant bigots is not a successful strategy.
Locally in Lewisham, UKIP got too high a vote (8-9%) for comfort in Lewisham East, where their candidate was the toxic Anne Marie Waters (3rd place), and in Lewisham West (4th place). My assumption is that these votes are from the whiter Bromley borderlands.
Priority no.3: Kick George Galloway out of Bradford - and out of British politics. Verdict: resounding success
It is fantastic to see Naz Shah get almost twice Galloway's vote. Congratulations to all those in Bradford West who fought so hard for that. I will relish Galloway's sad face under the silly hat at the count for years to come. His bizarre concession speech gives a good indication into his disturbing mindset, mixing hubris with paranoia:
there will be others who are already celebrating: the venal, and the vile, the racists and the zionists will all be celebrating. The hyena can bounce on the lion's grave but it can never be a lion, and in any case, I'm not in my grave. As a matter of fact I'm going off now to plan the next campaign.Priority no.4: Leave some space for the left. Verdict: not much space