So I have now recovered from disturbed sleep patterns and a hangover thanks to the election. It is time to take stock of one of the bluest of blue shires in England. The first thing to say is that as I drove to my local Waitrose this morning through the rolling countryside of a rock solid Tory constituency it did seem a somewhat different country than the one before the election. I know this is very very silly but I got the distinct feeling that middle England had spoken and was rather pleased that its voice had prevailed. As I walked around Waitrose doing a bit of Sunday shopping I really don’t think there was much of a clamer for an end to zero hours contracts or food banks. Most of the people had got what they wanted and everything seem well with the world.
Totally unscientific I know but probably more accurate than all the rigorously verified polls that didn’t predict this at all. It would seem that pollsters have no more idea as to what is happening as economists had before the 2008 crash. Maybe the political classes may start to talk about policies rather than soundbite, focus group tested, gloop. I doubt it.
As for the wider picture there are two significant patterns emerging. Firstly, that whilst there was a small swing to Labour there was a much larger swing to the Conservatives. The biggest swing of the night was in the marginal seat held by a Conservative cabinet minister – which went from marginal to comfortable by most standards, however not that comfortable when compared with some of her college’s constituencies in other parts of the Shire. The second pattern is the rise of UKIP which appears to have around 10/12% of the vote. Whether this will last after the European referendum is another question but I suspect it will as it is more to do with immigration than Europe.
As for the city at the centre of the county this was solidly Labour , but even here there was a significant UKIP surge again driven, I suspect, by immigration rather than Europe. Perhaps if David Cameron can get some real movement on limiting the scale of EU migration then the UKIP vote will soften? There is scope for this as Germany appears to be sick of all the migrants they have attracted over the past year so perhaps there is a opportunity to do a some form of a deal.
So what does the shire tell us about the situation as a whole for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? Well I suspect it is that they aren’t at all interested in listening to the noises coming from north of the border. In fact I would go further and suspect that they would be quite happy to see the back of the whole Scotland question and are not willing to give the Scots anything other than what they have already been promised and if the Scots don’t like it well so what? The shire is deep blue and more interested in England than Britain. I could well be wrong (I hope I am) but I really feel that very shortly we will be issued with new passports.
Is this in anyway true? Well it is true as to what I think the election has told us about the Shire. Is it a wasteland for any other party than a party of the right? I don’t think that is the case but they would have to choose someone like Tony Blair to make any headway which is interesting as one of the potential leaders of the Labour party just so happens to have a seat in the city and she is seen as a Blairite. Perhaps looking out on the seas of blue that surrounds her red island might teach her how to talk to the people other than the core of labour supporters which seemed to be all the previous leader was able to do – and look where that got the Labour party! Perhaps.