I know that this is probably not the thing to point out today but despite a huge surge in the proportion of people who voted Labour (10% increase in the percentage of the vote is a remarkable achievement but Labour is still nearly 60 seats behind the Conservatives) they have no real hope of forming a Government – which I know is also not a popular thing to point out at the moment either. Whilst we are talking about the Conservatives it is far to point out that they also had a really impressive turnout – around 2% more than the Labour figure. However, if this 2017 election is typical of elections to come then even a performance like this seems to indicate that there is little chance of the Conservatives forming a majority Government – perhaps 320 seats (I have assumed that Kensington and Canterbury are unlikely to stay Labour for that long – is that a Fair assumption? Who knows anymore?) is somewhere near the maximum they can get. If that is the case then we really are starting to enter the long promised for realignment of British politics and I think that there is one reason why that may well be true – Great Britain is made up of three separate countries and now they have three separate version of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat. It has been remarkable just how little attention has been paid to this over the last 24 hours – especially in today’s London based papers. I suspect that this, rather more than what the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) may or may not get out of whatever arrangement they may have the UK Conservative Government is going to have a far more profound shaping of things to come.
To illustrate this point just consider the Scottish Conservative MPs. At the last election 13 were returned to Westminster and they helped get Theresa May out of a really huge hole. However, they didn’t fight on a Theresa May Stong and Stable platform but rather a Ruth Davidson Unionist platform which is totally different. They know to keep their seats in any forthcoming elections they need to define themselves as Scots first because they are fighting the SNP who will do everything to paint them as traitors to their country. They also will want to help increase their representation in the Scottish Parliament which means any UK policy will be viewed through Scottish Conservative eyes rather than UK Conservative eyes. It is fair to say that there are as many differences as similarities. This is before you consider the current electoral ascendancy of Ruth Davidson. She single handedly revived the Conservatives in Scotland and can be given much of the credit for the outstanding performance of the Scottish Conservative Party. (A word of caution here – only a three years ago the same would have been said about Nicola Sturgeon – no she is a bit of a boggy woman in Scotland – individual political fortunes can change rapidly – just ask Theresa May.) They are unlikely to be lobby fodder for the Conservative Government in Westminster – especially if it is clear that the DUP are getting preferential treatment – there, after all, more Scottish Conservative MPs than DUP MPs – so they are in a very powerful bargaining position with a weak Government in Westminster.
This brings us to Brexit which all the next parliament, however long it lasts, will be remembered for. It is clear that Scotland has a much more open relationship with the European Union than many in England and so there will be pressure placed on the Government in Westminster to take a much more conciliatory approach in the negotiations by the Scots Conservatives. If this occurs then it will cause the hard line Brexiteers to cry foul. However, there are only about 50 at most of these and they can be replaced by other MPs from other parties who would be willing to do a deal if the correct conditions are met. If this is the case then we really are entering into a new world – a world which is being shaped very much by the smaller countries of Great Britain acting for their own interests above those of the Government in Westminster.
There are huge if, buts and maybe’s to that last paragraph but the bottom line is that if this last election is the shape of things to come then no party is going to be able to rule on their own and so they are going to have to be able to make deals just to get their legislation through. (The shameful way that the Conservatives treated the Liberal Democrats whilst in coalition means that there are unlikely to be formal coalitions any time soon.) All of a sudden we will start to have a new form of government – one formed by consensus rather than the elected dictatorship which comes with a government with a huge majority. Does this make me optimistic? Just a little – unfortunately it is far from clear how politics of Jeremy Corbyn fits into this. The people around Jeremy Corbyn have been inflexible about their views of the way forward and it would be somewhat ironic that they get so close to the levers of power only to have them dashed away by the lack of any majority to support them. Who said politics was fair?