An extraordinary election. No supporter of the mainstream parties will wake this morning with anything other than disapointment about the national picture:
- The Lib Dems must be crest-fallen. The supposed surge was illusionary. The expected shift to second place proved a fantasy.
- Labour had their worst electoral night for decades. Unless Clegg pulls a spectacular U-turn it is clear that they cannot form a Government and have lost this election.
- Despite this being the Conservatives ‘best gains in an election for 80 years’ with an even higher percentage of the vote than Labour got at the last election – I’d be a liar if I said I was anything other than very disappointed with last nights results. Yes, Labour ‘lost’ but the Conservatives can’t say we had the clear ‘win’ we all worked so hard for.
Nobody wakes up feeling great this morning.
Locally for me, there was an extra blow. Despite great progress in the West Midlands in general, in Birmingham itself we didn’t get a break-through in the City. Deidre Alden in Edgbaston is very much in my thoughts today. I can only begin to imagine the emotional investment she has put into her fight for this seat over more than half a decade. I wish her well. It was a remarkable result for Gisela Stuart and it would be churlish of me to say otherwise. In Birmingham Ladywood where I was the Candidate’s Agent I took genuine comfort that we increased our share of the vote from 8% to 12% in a seat that we were told we had gone into oblivion – but obviously this local advance in a third place seat is meaningless for the overall national picture.
I’m tired – it was an all-nighter for me at the National Indoor Arena count. I’m deeply depressed by the whole hung-parliament scenario. Even if we can form a Government through coalition or a minority administration I cannot see us being able to push through the ‘big ideas’ and more radical policies that drew me to fight for the Conservatives in this election. An election campaign takes a real toll on candidates, agents and activists – it is physically and emotionally exhausting and work and family inevitably suffer. I doubt any of us in any party have any appetite to go through it all again in short order. The onus is now on the party leaders to find something that can work that will avoid that. But unless that ‘something’ allows us to implement our agenda then a return to the polls will be necessary. Power for powers sake isn’t why people should be in politics – if you can’t implement your agenda and are crippled by the politics of compromise then it isn’t worth it. I will sleep now. Let the dust settle and see if the metaphoric hangover shifts.