As the old saying goes a week is a long time in politics, but it will take longer than seven days for political pundits and commentators to get over the shock General Election result witnessed on May 7th – and it will take the Labour Party much, much longer than that.
It was a devastating result for Ed Miliband and his team, made worse by its unexpectedness, but had we all looked at the campaign less tribally and more objectively, then the Tory victory, actually, should not have come as that much of a surprise.
No party in modern times that has gone to the electorate offering tax increases has been successful at the polls; wheeling out a cross dressing celebrity to campaign in Glasgow and getting the leader to have a cup of coffee with an elitist hippy shouted ‘out of touch Londoners’ to even the most traditional of Labour supporters; and the less said about the ‘Ed Stone’ the better.
Labour must now get itself up and dust itself off as quickly as it can practically do – and if the party has any sense they will leave the Blair/Brown days behind, jump a generation and take a risk of one of its up and coming young guns to lead it into the 2020 General Election. Labour needs a leader that can beat Boris – not someone who can go head to head with Cameron.
Talking of the Prime Minister, there was probably nobody more surprised, and relieved, than him when the ballot papers had all been counted.
Only a fortnight ago I and many others were predicting an early demise for Dave, as predators such as BoJo and Theresa May eyed his job. The election victory has bought him some time, but he will be more aware than anyone that he has a difficult balancing act of chastising his swivel eyed backwoodsmen and keeping his modern Conservatism agenda on track.
The EU in/out referendum was a panic promise too far, as he must surely realise when now analysing the UKIP performance, but he must go ahead with this folly now, risking the ire of both business and his own Europhile MPs.
His majority is far from huge, and therefore the chances of him going through the lifetime of this parliament without experiencing his own ‘bastards’ moment is highly unlikely. However, he has two big advantages over John Major. First, he has already announced he will not be fighting the next election, so on a personal level he has nothing to lose. Second, the official opposition will take some time to recover from what was a massive and unexpected setback.
Devolution remains a big part of the chancellor’s agenda, so opportunities for the north will offer themselves; whilst the whole issue of the Union, in light of the SNP’s surge, will keep the new government busy on many a front – and give us all plenty to talk about, and keep us interested over the next five years.
As for Farage and Co, and the almost extinct Liberal Democrats, for me, they got what they deserved.