Friday, May 07, 2010

A Few Thoughts

An astonishing night. As predicted there was no such thing as a national swing. Seats the Tories should have won, they didn't and others no one predicted they would win, they did. What no one predicted was the disastrous night the LibDems have experienced. Not only will they end up with fewer seats but their vote share may even be less than in 2005.

As a Conservative, there are many good things to take out of tonight. They gained more seats than at any election since 1931. But there were many more they should have taken and didn't. What on earth happened in Edgbaston, for instance?

The LibDem performance was all over the place. They lost many more seats to the Conservatives than anyone thought, but still managed to gain several seats too - Wells, Eastbourne and Solihull being three. They also won several Labour seats like Redcar and Norwich South. They have also lost a lot of seats in the South West to the Conservatives. Bizarre. I just hope they don't end up on 59 seats, as the exit poll predicted, otherwise I might have a rather unpleasant duty to perform (see post below).

Congratulations to Caroline Lucas for making a breakthrough for the Greens. I'm sorry for Charlotte Vere, who would have made a brilliant MP. I half considered applying for this seat when it came up again, but I'm afraid I could see the writing on the wall and didn't think I could turn it round.

So where does this leave us? The constitution gives Gordon Brown the right to try to form a government. It is unlikely he would be able to do so, even in a formal coalition with the LibDems, as they still wouldn't have a majority. But let's face it, as David Blunkett has admitted, Brown has lost the election. He hasn't got a mandate.

Can Cameron form a government with 310 seats? I'd day yes. And he can do it without begging the LibDems for support. However, he may think that we need a stable long term government and that it would be a good idea to form a coalition. If I were him, I would seriously think about that. It could be argued to be in the national interest.

One other thing before I have to get some sleep. The conduct of this election has been the most unprofessional ever. If the chairwoman of the Electoral Commission had anything about her she would resign, as would the chairman of the Association of Returning Officers. They have failed the country and need to be held to account for it.

I've seen many friends elected tonight and I congratulate them all warmly. Several other friends didn't quite make it. There's one man I want to pay tribute to tonight, and that is to my friend Simon Jones, who pushed Jon Cruddas very close in Dagenham & Rainham. He will be gutted tonight as his campaign deserved a win.

I had a great time presenting LBC's election night coverage and I hope those of you who tuned in liked it too. I'll write a bit more about it later but the LBC listeners certainly seemed to like it. Perhaps the highlight was upsetting Esther Rantzen by congratulating her on ability to get a Labour MP elected. She was very upset when I asked her if her entire campaign wasn't just one giant ego trip. She then had the cheek to accuse me of having an ego by asking an elderly lady such a question. As if.

Should you wish to catch me on the media during the rest of the day, here's my schedule...

BBC World Service 10am-12
World Service TV 12.30
Radio 5 Live 1pm
Al Jazeera English 2pm
LBC with James Whale 4-5pm

I'll leave it there for the moment. I need to get an hour's sleep otherwise I'll be fit for nothing.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Caroline Lucas for making a breakthrough for the Greens.

WHAT? Are they all mental in Brighton?

javelin said...

You're wrong to think Cameron will form a Government. Labour have first crack at the whip and will offer a PR vote to the lib dems. Who can blame the lib dems to take the long term view and go for that.

Brown will resign. Harman will become temp PM and Clegg will take her place. Vince cable will replace Darling to keep the electorate happy.

Milli boy and his band of milli-brothers will offer a fresh face.

golden_balls said...

" I just hope they don't end up on 59 seats, as the exit poll predicted, otherwise I might have a rather unpleasant duty to perform"

wriggle wriggle !!

thats not what you meant and you know it

a conservative already going back on his word not a good start is it

Lossie Beachcomber said...

Forgive my ignorance on this point but Sinn Fein don't take up their seats do they? If they don't I assume they don't take part in debates or have a vote in Parliament. If so then surely that's 4 votes that can be removed from the electoral maths.

It's early I've been up for a day and half so feel free to poke fun at me if I've missed something obvious!

madbreak said...

If Gordon Brown clings on to power he will still be a Prime Minister who has never won an election.

Giles Marshall said...

Sorry I missed the Rantzen interview - sounds a classic. A great pity the excellent Tory candidate didn't get elected there. Point of Pedantry - Solihull was not a Lib Dem gain; they took it last election, and held onto it in this.

Jess The Dog said...

After such a crushing defeat, Labour has no mandate, and a Labour led government will be illegitimate, should be resisted, defied and overthrown. Thankfully, I think we will see Cameron as PM, with the largest share of seats and votes.

Unknown said...

Many congratulations to Caroline Lucas I may not agree with many of her views but feel she will make a very good MP and advocate for her constituents. Also many thanks Ian for the information, comment and opinion. It will be very interesting over the coming days. The LibDems have taken my constituency of Redcar and the look of astonishment on Vera Baird's face will never leave me - wake up and smell the coffee!

vp said...

Labour + LibDems are almost certainly going to have more seats than the Conservatives alone, and probably more than the Conservatives + the DUP. If a Labour/LibDem coalition can't form a government, then why on earth should the Conservatives be able to do so?

A Labour/LibDem/SNP coalition may well have a majority.

Anonymous said...

We are where we are because of the effect of labours relentless (and lying) negative campaign. We are where we are of course because of the hu8ge declaine in thye tory vote in previou8s elections, and nthat was enebled by a previous electoral pact between Lab and Ld. Now LDs look sick ... will they really form another pact with Labour

Unknown said...

Edgbaston just shows the necessity of having a good candidate for a winnable seat.

Unknown said...

What will happen now?

My first thought would be that We all know Bruin will try to hold on as long as possible. Now he will try again to hang on even after such a defeat.

Let Bruin flounder, let him make a further mess, Let him suffer a parliamentary defeat. Also with disenfranchised voters all over the country that story will run and run.

I feel that Cameron should be patient, as the bigger prize is a serious majority for a long term solid time in government.

Anonymous said...

Sorry javelin, unfortunately for Clegg he doesn't have the authority to do that. Not on his showing the only poll that counts. I feel for him, but his power is limited.

DespairingLiberal said...

I'm very pleased that the Greens now have an MP - we need that voice in the House and Caroline Lucas is an effective and interesting person.

It's looking to me like Labour held up where the asian vote is strongest - this is arguably surprising given the Iraq history, but it shows how entrenched that vote is. I also wonder how much postal voting fraud played a role in some of those areas.

The LibDems lost at least some votes because the students who were wanting to vote LibDem turned up late and without polling cards. I vividly remember this happening when I voted as a student - a long time ago! There needs to be a new focus on how to encourage and obtain young adults' votes. New methods and new proofs and new ways of persuading them. This is very, very bad for the future of democracy.

I don't think Brown can stumble on - he simply does not have the mandate. I don't think Clegg should agree to anything with him. My honest opinion is he shouldn't agree to anything with some other replacement Labour leader either.

That leaves Cameron to press on - I think he should have a discussion with Nick Clegg and explore having informal arrangements with LibDem support for some crucial things in exchange for a referendum on PR and a willingness to debate other issues.

The Tories still have a huge problem in Scotland and I also think a Cameron government would need to do something about that - perhaps some kind of new referendum on constitutional change with seperation of England in a more federalised system?

JMB said...

There was a lot of pressure from the media and some bloggers for the count to be done Thursday night and presumably to get the result out as quickly as possible. Did this divert too much effort away from planning of the basic operation of the polling stations during the actual voting?

happyuk said...

Esther Rantzen has always been into grandstanding.

Anyone remember that delicious moment when she had a go a Bernard Manning for being a racist bigot, who then turned around and destroyed in the most exquisite way

("When God gave you teeth, he spoilt a bloody good arse")

Maverick Muezzin said...

Never mind Edgbaston, the entire Birmingham campaign was a shambles.

The structure is bizarre. I've given up trying to renew my membership of the Conservative party here, as no one seems to know what to do.

It's ridiculous getting CCHQ emails from Eric Pickles about helping your local party, yet attempts to volunteer don't even get a response.

You'd have thought Birmingham was a key battleground for the Conservatives to turn Blue again, as during the Thatcher years, but there were hardly any posters around.

Was it complacency? Maybe this was a result of the more ambitious marginal targeting, to the detriment of closer marginals.

Leafleting and door-to-door was noticeably better by Labour in Selly Oak. Again, was this complacency? Because there seemed no attempt to recruit volunteers (in contrast to Labour).

The most noticeable Conservative activity I've seen in the region was Redditch, which of course, was won.

Sadly, though, I think a big issue is that the Conservative brand is still not decontaminated amongst certain groups. Young people seem to be fairly universally brainwashed into thinking Tories are nasty. And similarly the ethnic minority* vote still seem to be tribally anti-Tory.
(*This is a generalisation. Basing it mainly on my Muslim friends. I'm a white Muslim.)

Folklore is a powerful thing. Perhaps with more-balanced MP demographics that can begin to be undone. And maybe the relentless but focussed Labour lies and negativity stuck. Whereas so much was wrong with Labour that there was a lack of a focussed attack.

Houdini said...

Looking over last night though, couldn’t this be seen as perhaps the perfect outcome for the Tory party and ultimately as a result the country?

I personally hope Brown does form a coalition and is still in Number 10 when the s**t storm to come hits the economy. This election was a poisoned chalice designed for just that purpose by Brown, but he now looks set to reap the rewards. Inflation will undoubtedly rise and interest rates will soar who ever got it, so let it be Brown.

The Tories have a massive majority in terms of share of the vote, and the biggest swing since 1932, so hardly a bad night given Labours near 60 seat built in lead. Brown will inevitably fall and that leaves the path clear for a generation of Tory, competent, rule.

This could be the perfect scenario; a large win without a majority.

Osama the Nazarene said...

Excellent presentation on LBC. Your apprenticeship on Doughty Street clearly served you in good stead. Though the programme was not quite as lighthearted as your previous European / Council election outing, probably of necessity. Next stop Dimblebey's chair. Its time he was put out to pasture.

As for your foolish hostage to fortune you've got to carry it out in the interest of TRUST!

Lola said...

Meanwhile, back on planet 'working for a living; running a business; being a doctor; or whatever' we are left in the hands of the Bureaucracy whilst all these idiots that have spent the last month prancing about desperately trying to not say anything play politics.

You couldn't make it up.

Jabba the Cat said...

Putting aside the speculation about where things will now go, it amuses me no end that the LibDims are heading for less seats than before...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Iain, it's clear what you meant and it's kit-off time!

Tony said...

A coalition between Tories and LibDems would give a working majority of around 40 but I think it unlikely that any deal between any of the major parties will be struck soon unless either Labour or the Tories accede to the LibDem demand for a system of Proportional Representation at the next election. If this is done then as soon as the necessary legislation is pushed through Parliament I'd expect the LibDems to force a new election as a device to gain many more seats in Parliament.

If you were Brown or Cameron would you cave in with this prospect in view?

javelin said...

According to the BBC the SNP hold the balance of power

The BBC projections show the shape of two possible rival power blocs:

LAB: 261
LD: 55
Possible total: 320

CON: 306
DUP: 8
Possible total: 315

SNP + PC: 9

JuliaM said...

"I need to get an hour's sleep otherwise I'll be fit for nothing."

So long as you are fit to honour your promise to run naked up the high street. It was mentioned on the Beeb, you know.. ;)

skynine said...

Wouldn't there be something wrong in a Labour/LibDem government that ruled England with Celtic MP's?

The Tories clearly have a majority of English MP's and the largest number of votes.

Are we now a colony?

Robert said...

You have missed the biggest question. Where does this leave Cameron?

The only reason for having cast iron Dave as leader is to give the Conservatives victory not a hung parliament. His reneging on Lisbon and refusal to do a deal with Lord Pearson has cost the Conservatives 13 seats and counting including Balls who they had on a plate.

This is a disaster for the Conservatives as it leaves them in no mans land facing a Lib/Lab pact or a period of government as a minority or in a coallition with the prospect of a difficult election when the cuts start to bite.

Make no mistake about it. This cock up is down to cast iron Dave who lost a twenty point lead. The trouble is he has killed of all the potential replacements so unlike Labour who can have a clean break, there is no heir to Blair's heir.

If we get PR say goodbye to Tory majority government and European style backroom deals. All down to Dave.

Matelot said...

David Cameron would be advised to stay in opposition this time. Just make the right noises about Gordon Brown and then sit back and watch the stitch up between all the minor parties and then the resultant chaos. Take note of all the promises (bribes) of more English money for the devolved nations and then use all the ammunition against the coalition parties at the next election not far away. It would also strengthen the argument against PR. I can't wait for PMQs!

Martin S said...

"It's not over until the fat lady sings."

There will be several songs for her to perform:

"Fraud, Glourious Fraud"

"I'm Getting Elected in the Morning (the postal votes told me so)"

"Don't it Make Your Brown Eyes Blue?"

"I Talk to the Trees, that's why I voted Lib Dem"

"I Wanna Take Forever Tonight (at the Polling Station)"

"I'm in the Mood (to stuff some ballot boxes)"

"If I Should Fall Behind (please find 10,000 postal votes for me)"

What is the situation for the country? As the wv says: Vesticki... How aposite. It is very sticky.

javelin said...

The most stable coalition is Con+SNP+UDP.

The Cons want an English Parliament, which means these parties won't tread on each others toes. Possibly throw the Welsh in as well to create a One Nation Government.

The price asked by the LibDems is too high. Cameron needs to sit down and a long hard look at his options.

Bob X said...

You promised the streak, not if LD's got "exactly" 59, but if they got "only" 59. I think it is unanimous that you lost the wager and must pay up.