Live Blog: General Election 2017 Results & Analysis
Polls Close: 10PM UK Time
9 June – 05:15
My brain has temporarily ceased to function, so I am going to get a few hours’ sleep. I’ll resume when Theresa May emerges to make her
walk of shame plea for forgiveness “victory” speech, and continue live blogging throughout the day. Thanks for joining, and stay tuned!
9 June – 04:48
The state of play
The Tories no longer expect to outperform the exit poll, which is quite bleakly funny considering how they were all pouring scorn on the poll’s dismal prediction just a few hours ago:
This has just been an unmitigated disaster for the Conservatives. But it is a disaster which Theresa May fully owns. It was her arrogance which prompted this general election – called with almost no consultation with cabinet members or MPs. It was her aloofness which saw the publication of an atrocious Tory manifesto which plagiarised freely from leftist Labour Party doctrine, discarding Thatcherism and embracing a larger role for the state in every aspect of our lives. It was her sheer ineptitude which led to such an awfully prosecuted campaign.
But more than all of that, it was Theresa May’s absolutely stunning lack of a positive, vision for Britain which led to this dire electoral performance.
Theresa May has defaced her own party, both ideologically and in terms of the MPs who have lost their seats. Ministers have lost their seats. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary – the Home Secretary! – squeaked through in Hastings with a majority of just 346, on the third recount. This is an humiliation.
But none of this should detract from the job that Jeremy Corbyn did guiding his party to near level pegging with the Tories in terms of national vote share, increasing Labour’s number of seats by more than thirty and consolidating his position as party leader. Remarkably, one can watch the news networks recalibrating their expectations of Corbyn in real time as the morning wears on. Whereas 24 hours ago nearly everybody expected Corbyn to lead the Labour Party to glorious defeat, now the talking heads are suggesting that he should be booted from the leadership for failing to win an eminently “winnable” election. What nonsense. Like him or loathe him, Jeremy Corbyn’s brand of conviction politics found traction.
Even formerly antagonistic centrist MPs are now forming an orderly queue to bend the knee to their emboldened leader:
On the BBC Chuka Umunna has just said he would consider serving in the shadow cabinet (or cabinet?) if offered a job by Jeremy Corbyn. Umunna, who was shadow business secretary under Ed Miliband, is on the opposite wing of the party to Corbyn, and has not been a vocal supporter of his.
But all night Labour figures previously sceptical about Corbyn have been lining up in the broadcast studios to pay tribute to him. And they have done it quite sincerely even if, in some cases, perhaps reluctantly. Corbyn’s achievement really has been striking.
On the plus side for those of us who supported Flexcit and a phased withdrawal from the European Union with continued transitional access to the EEA, the kneecapping of the Tories makes a more reasoned form of Brexit somewhat more likely. It may enrage those absolutists who have convinced themselves that sovereignty = reverting to WTO rules, consequences be damned, but it would be the right thing to do. Quite why Theresa May staked her “Brexit means Brexit” position on such extreme ground is mystifying – it certainly did nothing to endear her to Conservative Remainers, many of whom seem to have deserted the party in key constituencies.
While the final breakdown of the new parliament – and the composition of then next government – remains to be seen, this much we know: Theresa May is a zombie prime minister. ITV News reports that she is currently huddled with her closest advisers (still excluding ministers and the wider party from her deliberation processes, even now) and writing a speech, while it remains 50/50 as to whether she will announce her departure or not. We will know soon enough.
But as things stand, the prime minister’s arrogance and incompetence have grievously harmed the Conservative Party and plunged Britain into chaos at the worst possible time. This is an appalling legacy.
9 June – 04:15
Andrew Sparrow’s Guardian live blog reports that John McDonnell is stirring up some mischief:
In his victory speech at his count John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said he expected Boris Johnson to launch a leadership challenge immediately.
To be fair, he probably won’t need much encouragement.
9 June – 03:54
One of the things I love about British parliamentary elections is the fact that all candidates, from the most powerful minister to the lowliest of fringe or independent candidates, have to stand next to each other on the stage as their results are read out by the constituency returning officer.
And what humiliation could be more appropriate for Theresa May than having to share a stage with Elmo and “Lord Buckethead”?
Buckethead for prime minister!
9 June – 03:41
Whatever Theresa May says about her future, her cabinet ministers clearly have some forceful ideas of their own.
James Forsyth in the Spectator live blog:
So, what happens to Theresa May? Her gamble in calling an early election has backfired on her spectacularly. Her authority is now shot, even if she can find a way to stay in Number 10.
But will her party remove her? Some ministers are clearly keen to, there has been chatter about possible unity tickets and the like. However, some senior Tories think that the ‘national interest’ and the proximity of the start of the Brexit negotiations means that May should be allowed to carry on as PM, but with a whole new approach to government.
I am told ‘Do not underestimate the fury in the parliamentary party. They are absolutely spitting’. Certainly, the Tories will be reluctant to go into any second election with her as leader.
I don’t see how she stays. She betrayed conservatism with one of the worst Tory manifestos in recent decades. Her leadership style is exclusionary and reliant on a small cadre of advisers who have now been conspicuously shown to be utterly useless. She is a wooden campaigner with zero charisma in an age when the public are clearly crying out for some kind of inspirational politics. And now she has been humiliated, her authority utterly blasted away.
Do we want a puppet prime minister, reliant on the forebearance of other powerful cabinet members who pull the strings in the background? Surely not. There is no way that May can now stand alongside Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron or Donald Trump and project authority. Rather another unelected prime minister with charisma than the shredded remnants of the May premiership.
9 June – 03:28
Theresa May in denial
And now we have Theresa May’s speech at her count in Maidenhead. One might have expected a degree of contrition for squandering a huge lead in the polls and leading her party off the cliff. But no – the prime minister breathed defiance, insisting that the country needed “stability” (which of course she provides in such copious amounts) and that she would therefore plan to remain in 10 Downing Street if the votes come in as expected:
As we look ahead and wait to see what the final results will be, I know that the country needs a period of stability. And whatever the results are the Conservative party will ensure that we fulfil our duty in ensuring that stability so that we can all, as one country, go forward together.
Notably, though, Theresa May didn’t use the word “I” when saying that the Tories would plan to remain in government. Her conspicuous use of the words “we” and “the Conservative Party” suggest that she realises deep down that her hours in Downing Street are now extremely numbered.
9 June – 03:22
For whom the bell tolls
Jeremy Corbyn used his victory speech at his count in Islington to push our malfunctioning prime minister, already teetering on the brink, over the edge.
“The prime minister called the election because she wanted a mandate. Well the mandate she’s got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence. I would have thought that is enough for her to go actually.”
Corbyn and nearly every Conservative MP, activist and supporter. She has led the party to abject, ignominious defeat. RESIGN.
9 June – 03:14
The people have spoken. But what did we say?
A common platitude uttered by winning and losing politicians in the United States is to declare that “the American people have spoken”. It’s supposed to indicate that politicians should gracefully accept the verdict and allow the victor to have a chance to enact their agenda.
But if the British people have spoken, what on earth did they say?
Apparently we punished the Tories for their awful campaign and wooden, inept leader. Except in Scotland, where the Tories are picking up seats and may make the difference between the Tories remaining in government or moving across to the opposition benches.
Apparently we voted against Theresa May’s vision of “hard Brexit” with the possibility of crashing out of the EU with no deal. Except key architects of the establishment Brexit campaign like Boris Johnson were returned to parliament, while Jeremy Corbyn – who was ambivalent about EU membership at best, and who made only lacklustre efforts to help the Remain campaign – is set to be the night’s biggest winner.
Apparently we are rewarding politicians with principle and political courage like Jeremy Corbyn. Except politicians who made difficult decisions in the national interest, like Nick Clegg, have been cruelly punished.
The British people showed us by their treatment of the Liberal Democrats in 2015 that they dislike coalitions (or at least that they will ruthlessly punish any minority party to enter into coalition with the Tories) and yet we look set to return a split of MPs which almost cries out for some kind of coalition or intra-party cooperation.
In short, there is no clear message, either in terms of the individual winners or losers, or the likely composition of the next parliament. We apparently shouted very loudly, but it is far from clear what we actually said – and it is almost certain that half of us will be squealing with self-righteous outrage when the next government (in whatever shape) is formed.
9 June – 02:35
What’s happening in Scotland?
The story in Scotland seems entirely different to what has been happening south of the border. The SNP’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, has lost his seat, while the Tories are picking up seats in Scotland – one of the only forecasts that actually seems to be coming true for them.
Given the Tories’ astonishing weakness across swathes of England, it could be that various gains in Scotland (of all places) are the only thing which keeps them afloat with a chance of remaining in government.
9 June – 02:23
Jeremy Corbyn looks triumphant as he arrives at his Islington count to huge roars of approval and a prolonged ovation from local party activists. This is just surreal. This blog has always been mindful of Jeremy Corbyn’s authenticity and the danger that his conviction politics posed when the conservative opposition was so rootless and bland, but I still didn’t envisage an outcome where Labour was in celebratory mode on election night, with at least an outside chance of taking 10 Downing Street.
Tom Watson gave quite a punchy victory speech, in which he skewered Theresa May by her own logic:
We still don’t know what the final result of this election is. It is too early to say. But it looks likely to be a very bad result for Theresa May.
She said: “It is a fact that if we lose just six seats, we will lose our majority and Jeremy Corbyn will become prime minister”. We do not yet know the final result, but we intend to hold her to that …
The next few hours – maybe the next few days – look very uncertain. But one thing we can be sure of is that Theresa May’s authority has evaporated. She is a damaged Prime Minister whose reputation may never recover.
One thing is for certain: people want hope. And when they’re offered it, they vote for it.
Theresa May can’t possibly remain as PM. She has strengthened Corbyn and given hard-left 1970s socialism a foothold back in our politics – an unforgivable crime.
9 June – 02:00
We need to talk about the youth vote
One thing seems absolutely crystal clear to me: the Conservative Party can no longer allow itself to glibly write off almost the entire youth vote and cede youth politics to the various parties of the left.
In some ways, Jeremy Corbyn seemed like a most implausible politician to court the youth vote – an old, grey haired career politician with absolutely zero interest in doing anything fashionable, sartorially or politically. But my god, he is an authentic conviction politician. And if your average voter hates overgroomed, telegenic bland politico-bots then young people clearly hate them even more. Canned soundbites don’t work on social media-savvy young people, if they work on anyone. And yet the Conservatives went into battle – largely thanks to the “genius” Lynton Crosby – with an arsenal made up almost exclusively of glib, canned soundbites in place of anything remotely authentic.
Not that authenticity alone is enough. Right wing politics are clearly hugely toxic to many young people, who would sooner die than admit to voting Conservative. The Tories are too closely associated with grey, uninspiring “austerity”, even though austerity is largely a myth. The Tory brand, fair or unfair, is still toxic to many people. And the parties of the left have perfectly tapped into the consumerist politics of Me Me Me by promising to firehose endless sums of money into the gaping, insatiable mouth of Britain’s public services.
It seems painfully apparent to me that we need a prominent, national vessel for the development and promotion conservative policies (and personalities) separate from the Conservative Party, which simply cannot be trusted to make the case for its own worldview. I wrote ages ago, back in 2015, that we need a British CPAC – a well funded and media savvy conservative campaign group which exists outside the dusty, dysfunctional Tories.
CPAC is the Conservative Political Action Conference in the United States, and while it has had its share of controversies it serves an important role in nurturing small-C conservative talent, seeding new ideas and generally providing an opportunity for advancement and self-promotion outside the structures of the Republican Party. It also plays a role in youth outreach, as do other organisations like Ron Paul’s Young Americans for Liberty.
It is only through outside groups like this that the image of conservatism stands a chance of being rehabilitated among young people. It is only through a British version of CPAC or YAF that young conservative or agnostic students at university stand a chance against being steamrollered by the fashionable left-wing identity politics which are almost de rigeur for social acceptance and advancement.
Look at the people who might be considered contenders to take over from Theresa May when she is rightly consigned to the dustbin of conservative political history. Do you see the youth vote ever breaking in significant numbers for Philip Hammond or Michael Fallon? Maybe Boris Johnson might win a few, but he is widely hated by starry-eyed young Europhiles for “taking away their future”.
No, the future Conservative leader who stands even a chance of fighting the parties of the left for the youth vote must come up from outside the existing party structure, if they are to emerge at all. They must articulate a message of conservatism as being pro-freedom, pro-opportunity, pro-dynamism. Some compromises must be made, with the party finally addressing issues which screw the younger generation and force them into the waiting arms of the Labour Party – a serious housebuilding programme (not council houses, but houses for private sale and rent) for example. The end of universal benefits being lavished upon rich, self-entitled pensioners who don’t need them.
The Tories need a leader who can make self-sufficiency and freedom seem cool rather than callous, admirable rather than shameful, particularly to younger voters. I don’t see anybody on the Conservative front bench who stands a chance of doing that. Maybe James Cleverly from the backbenches, if he was able to step up?
But one thing is clear: the Tories can no longer be relied upon to keep the torch of conservatism lit. Theresa May half extinguished it with her statist manifesto, half stolen from the Labour Party, and her inept campaigning and toxicity among young people provided the coup-de-grace.
We need an external repository for conservative principle, now.
9 June – 01:29
The men in grey suits prepare to make their move:
9 June – 01:24
Jeremy Corbyn emerges
This sounds suspiciously like a tentative victory speech:
I’d like to thank all our members and supporters who have worked so hard on this campaign, from door knocking to social media, and to everyone who voted for a manifesto which offers real change for our country. Whatever the final result, we have already changed the face of British politics.
Regardless of what happens with the formation of the next government, all of those restive Labour shadow cabinet members and backbenchers are now going to have to bend the knee:
9 June – 01:20
Credit to Jeremy Corbyn, ctd.
Peter Hain now on the BBC giving credit to Jeremy Corbyn, much as this blog has done, for having fought a passionate and principled campaign which actually generated grassroots enthusiasm rather than making people cringe (like Theresa May’s Conservative campaign).
9 June – 01:06
A recipe for instability
Robert Peston is counting the days until the next general election, which he thinks will be sooner rather than later?
And who can disagree? Assuming a minority government of either stripe (or a majority Tory government with a miniscule majority, riven by infighting and beset by external shocks), it will be immensely vulnerable to no-confidence votes or having its budgets voted down at any time. Assuming a fractious Progressive Alliance, the restive Tories will have ample opportunity to destabilise such a government and try to quickly win back power.
Either way, Brenda from Bristol is likely to be pretty angry.
9 June – 00:59
What about the UKIP vote?
The received wisdom was that voters abandoning UKIP would flow back to the Conservatives, primarily because that’s where most of them came from in the first place, steadily abandoning the Tories in 2010 and 2015 until David Cameron’s promise of an EU referendum stopped the bleeding.
Early results and the exit poll show this analysis to be wildly misjudged. From the Spectator:
The UKIP collapse in Broxbourne – where their vote is down 15.7% – has boosted Labour (10.5% gain) more than the Tories (6.1%). The constituency went two-thirds for Leave in the referendum.
This goes against the expectations of most pundits, myself included, who assumed that the UKIP vote would wash straight back to the Tories, where it came from. But instead of this reversion to normality, it seems that these voters have moved to the left while hanging out with UKIP, and have increasingly moved to the Labour Party instead. UKIP has essentially laundered a load of voters and turned them from wavering conservatives into tentative Corbynites – which is quite stunning really.
9 June – 00:49
More Conservative anger
The Telegraph’s live blog catalogues more of the bubbling fury at Tory HQ:
Theresa May is facing a mounting backlash over her “catastrophic” election campaign after an exit poll suggested that her snap election gamble had failed to pay off.
[..] Senior Conservatives said this morning that she had made “fundamental strategic errors” and said that her closest aides should be “banished” from Downing Street.
They complained that the campaign had been centred around a “cult of personality” and “central control”, adding: “It has completely blown up in our face”.
One senior Tory told The Telegraph: “This is bad, it’s worse than bad. Her advisers should walk out of the door now never to return, regardless of the final result.
9 June – 00:37
Credit to Jeremy Corbyn, ctd.
Andrew Neil agrees with me. We shouldn’t let Theresa May’s magnificent, luminescent incompetence detract from the equally important story of Jeremy Corbyn’s shrewd, principled (yes – you don’t have to agree with the principles but you must acknowledge their existence) and dogged campaigning.
He worked hard for this result, battling a regicidal parliamentary party and a furiously oppositional media. Almost nobody saw it coming. Fair play.
9 June – 00:30
Signs from Ipswich that Ben Gummer, nepotism beneficiary extraordinaire, barely closeted Europhile and – most famously – architect of the Conservative Party’s dismal “Blue Labour” manifesto, is in danger of losing his seat. Good. Anybody who had any hand in Theresa May’s lurch toward the statist centre-left needs to die a lonely death in the political wilderness.
9 June – 00:14
Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, has just predicted on BBC News that Labour will form the next government.
Who would have seriously suspected that she could even make such a speculative boast (with a straight face) this time 24 hours ago?
God help us all.
9 June – 00:05
Dissent among the Conservative cabinet is already bubbling to the surface.
James Forsyth reports:
Tory Cabinet Ministers are complaining that they unilaterally disarmed in this campaign. That just as Labour was offering young voters free tuition fees to fire up their youth base, the Tories were alarming their elderly base with the so-called ‘dementia tax’.
Tory Cabinet Ministers are still in shock at the exit poll result. The mood is that even if May gets a majority of 12, her ‘authority will be shot’ and—at the very least—her governing style will have to change drastically. There is some very early talk of leadership options too. I am told that ‘the men in grey suits are livid’.
Oh, she’s gone. And this is only the start of what will be some of the bitterest post-election recriminations ever.
8 June – 23:55
Credit where credit is due to Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum
As much as the story of this general election may be Theresa May’s miraculous ability to snatch defeat (or something perilously close to it) from the jaws of victory, we should not forget that this remarkable turn of events is also a reflection of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party – in impossibly difficult circumstances, undermined by the Labour centrists and doubters at every turn.
The fact that Labour clearly have not collapsed as earlier polls suggested shows the continued importance of real world physical campaigning, having a candidate who actually inspires enthusiasm and draws crowds of people who want to hear him speak (rather than groups of sign-waving party activists bussed in from far afield) and who – shock horror – actually has core values and the courage to articulate them.
You can disagree with Jeremy Corbyn all you want – I certainly do. But the man has political courage. He stands by his loopy, outdated (and sometimes downright offensive) views and keeps on plugging away trying to sell them to the people. He spent years in the political wilderness as a result, until fortunes changed and his unlikely leadership bid caught fire back in 2015. He doesn’t bend, flatter and shapeshift in an attempt to get into the public’s good graces. He rarely compromises on his core beliefs – Brendan O’Neill made a valid critique that Corbyn abandoned his euroscepticism to vote for Remain, but his position as leader was directly at stake and he did everything he could to signal his insincerity to the electorate – and it seems that people actually respond quite well to that kind of consistency.
As much as Theresa May did everything humanly possible to throw this election away, we should not ignore the fact that Jeremy Corbyn has apparently massively outperformed the low expectations that many pundits set for him.
8 June – 23:33
A Brexit perspective
We need to look at things from the all-important perspective of Brexit, and what effect a hung parliament, progressive alliance government, weak Tory majority or minority government will have on Brexit negotiations.
From my perspective, this is potentially one significant silver lining in this cloud. Anything that forces a more realistic assessment of Britain’s need for a comprehensive Brexit deal (and avoiding a “no deal” cliff edge) is a good thing. Theresa May’s government showed no signs of acknowledging this basic reality, or awareness of the impact that crashing out of the EEA to WTO rules would actually have. For all their faults, the likes of Labour’s Keir Starmer do at least seem to be functionally aware of non-tariff barriers and the serious threat they pose to Britain if we do not exit the EU in a sensible, planned way. Anything that amplifies the voices of reason when it comes to securing a mutually beneficial Brexit deal is clearly a good thing.
Unfortunately, the slim ray of hope that this inconclusive election result might lead to a more intelligent form of Brexit is clouded by the fact that a weak Tory government or Progressive Alliance would wreak havoc with domestic policy, dramatically expand the state, throw fiscal rectitude out the window and potentially even seek to subvert Brexit altogether.
Pick your poison.
8 June – 23:24
George Osborne twists the knife
Andrew Sparrow’s Guardian live blog quotes ex-Chancellor and current Evening Standard editor George Osborne:
I worked very well with Theresa May and I think she has intelligence and integrity.
Clearly if she’s got a worse result than two years ago and is almost unable to form a government then she I doubt will survive in the long term as Conservative party leader.
But you know we are all talking about a poll. So I’m nervous of making certain statements but look, the problem she will have if it’s anything like that number, she’s got Irish unionists … that does not get you necessarily to 326 and the Liberal Democrats on 14 here … are so unlikely to go into coalition with the Conservatives this time round, not least because they’ve made commitments to things like a second European referendum.
So I look at those numbers, I helped put together the Coalition in 2010 and you could make the numbers quite easily add up if you could get the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives to come together. I look at these numbers, you can’t make them add up.
The best case scenario (assuming the margin of error falls entirely in her favour) has the Tories ending up with about the same number of seats they currently have. This would mean that they dragged the country through the hassle and disruption of a general election campaign only to effectively tread water.
Theresa May will have resigned by sundown tomorrow, and her departure from frontline Conservative politics cannot come soon enough.
8 June – 23:12
1945 all over again?
As my mind reels from the exit poll and the increasing likelihood that Theresa May has presided over a self-inflicted calamity of historic proportions, I keep thinking back to the post-war election of 1945. Churchill guided the country through the war and saved us from existential threat only for the Conservatives to lose the peace to Clement Attlee’s Labour Party, opening the doorway for the socialist post-war consensus.
Similarly, we prevailed in the battle for Brexit but look in serious jeopardy of losing the post-referendum peace to Jeremy Corbyn’s resurgent socialism. In 1945, this fateful choice led to 34 years of slow and painful national decline. We can only hope and prey that the ramifications of this election – whatever the final result may be – are not as painful or long-lasting.
8 June – 23:05
Still waiting for the shock to wear off while we wait for some contestable seat results to come in. Labour increased their majority in Newcastle Central, a safe seat. The Tories were never going to win, but if they can’t even make inroads…
8 June – 22:57
A couple of silver linings in this Force 5 tornado funnel cloud of doom: oleaginous pro-EU cheerleader Anna Soubry is forecast to lose her seat, as is the SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson.
From the Spectator:
In what might be one of the biggest upsets of the night, the BBC forecasts that Angus Robertson, the SNP’s group leader in Westminster has a 99 per cent chance of losing his seat in Moray to the Conservatives.
8 June – 22:50
So if/when Theresa May falls on her sword (or is pushed into it), who on earth could take over? It’s hardly as though the Conservative front benches are brimming over with plausible heavyweight talent? Or rather, what heavyweight talent there is – Philip Hammond, Michael Fallon – tend to be as dour and uninspiring as she is. If Jeremy Corbyn can outmanoeuvre Theresa May then he can certainly do so to her grey haired male backing dancers.
So…Boris Johnson? Michael Gove? No.
Amber Rudd? Maybe, assuming she doesn’t lose her seat.
We need new blood to step up. James Cleverly? Kwasi Kwarteng? Priti Patel?
8 June – 22:40
The thing is, Theresa May has done nothing to ingratiate herself with the Conservative Parliamentary Party. Her leadership style has been closed and insular. As Home Secretary she nurtured feuds with other cabinet members, and as PM she has been unwilling to delegate and trust many of her cabinet colleagues with the kind of autonomy that a strong, confident leader might otherwise extend.
The upshot – almost nobody will leap to her defence when the long knives are drawn…
8 June – 22:33
Yes, Ruth Davidson would make an infinitely better UK Conservative leader (and prime minister) than Theresa May. Mind you, so would my left shoe…
8 June – 22:29
Dan Hodges is right. I can’t find the words to express my anger and contempt for Theresa May. The only possible excuse for her shameful jettisoning of core conservative small government principles was that it might be a clever way of triangulating and winning a whole additional tranche of centrist votes. Well, the exit poll suggests that it didn’t exactly work out very well. She betrayed conservative principles and her ineptitude has actually put Britain at risk of a Corbyn-led Labour government.
8 June – 22:24
Menzies Campbell on the BBC, talking down the prospect of LibDem participation in a progressive alliance, if the astonishing exit poll results are confirmed or exceeded from a left-wing perspective. I’m frankly stunned that we are even considering this dystopian possibility.
I think that if the numbers add up for them, the parties of the left have to go for it. Surely they do? Labour, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens (and to a lesser extent the LibDems) have spent the past two years shrieking about how the Evil Tories are perpetuating a holocaust of the sick, disabled and generically “vulnerable”. Surely if the Evil Tor-ees are as evil as the parties of the left have continually implied, they have a solemn duty to club together to stop it, no matter what political damage it may do to them in the long term? Or will they leave the “vulnerable” to their fate with a minority Conservative administration?
8 June – 22:18
Calmer voices than mine are preaching caution:
8 June – 22:17
Already warning signs that Conservative MPs are imperilled and in danger of losing their seats. This is incredible. This tweet pretty much sums up the mood in the Hooper household right now:
8 June – 22:15
Putting my non-partisan hat on, this exit poll is enormously encouraging to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. If it carries through to the results, it will show that there is indeed public demand for authentic politicians who actually have consistent principles and stand through them through good times and bad, popularity and unpopularity. It will show that there is tremendous public appetite for authenticity and conviction politics – all those things that we were so confidently told were old fashioned and passé.
8 June – 22:12
So the Conservatives are in denial, with senior sources telling Andrew Marr that it simply cannot be true. Theresa May had better bloody well hope so, otherwise she needs to be taken out back by the 1922 Committee and…politically disposed of.
8 June – 22:09
Whoever thought that the moments after the release of the exit poll would see John McDonnell frantically trying to tamp down expectations on the BBC election show. Wow. This is a disaster – *if* it carries through to actual results.
A hung parliament is the absolute last thing that Britain needs at this difficult time. Theresa May’s policies may be misguided in a myriad of ways, but the idea of a minority Conservative administration or a shaky left-wing coalition trying to implement domestic policy, respond to the twin terror attacks in London and Manchester *and* negotiate Brexit? Absolutely untenable.
8 June – 22:04
If – IF – this exit poll is correct, then Theresa May is a dead woman walking. She needs to go, almost immediately. I don’t care that we will be back to whiny lefties droning on about an “unelected prime minister”. Anything would be better than this walking catastrophe of a failed prime minister, a useless campaigner, a tone deaf speaker, a political coward and someone who tried to subvert the party’s best Thatcherite traditions (or what’s left of them) with her own brand of nasty authoritarianism.
This is absolutely unacceptable for the Tories, if carried through to actual results. Theresa May was facing off against Jeremy Corbyn. JEREMY FREAKING CORBYN! And she can’t muster a landslide against somebody who has spoken warmly of terrorist organisations and wants to implement hard left socialist policies consigned to the dustbin of history in 1979. What? No, this is ridiculous.
No. This is unacceptable. If this exit poll carries true, Theresa May needs to go. It doesn’t matter who replaces her. My left shoe could do a better job, and would sound better on the stump. Unacceptable.
8 June – 21:55
POLLS CLOSED – EXIT POLL RELEASED
Conservatives largest party
No overall majority predicted
Con 314, down 17 – my goodness me
266 Labour, up 34
SNP 34 – yeah, not buying that one
8 June – 21:55
Ready for the exit poll
Ten minutes before the exit poll was released for the 2015 general election, David Cameron was mentally rehearsing his concession speech while the messianic Ed Miliband was daring to hope that he might become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. We all know how that turned out.
In 2017, there are probably no such expectations within Labour high command that the party might be returned to power. When it comes to the horde of Labour-supporting youngsters and Momentum zealots, it is a different matter, of course – cocooned safely in their self-affirming left wing bubble, once again many of these left-wing activists are about to collide hard with reality.
It is almost unimaginable that the exit poll will show anything other than a projected result which sees Theresa May return to 10 Downing Street as prime minister. The real question is the majority of Conservative MPs she brings back to Parliament with her, and whether the Tories’ electoral performance can possibly be good enough to make up for the incompetent, error-strewn campaign presided over by May. She will need a very solid performance indeed, otherwise Conservative knives will begin to sharpen…
8 June – 20:55
A local update from Hampstead & Kilburn
We are now in that strange hinterland where the television news is legally required to frantically pretend that there is no general election taking place, so as not to influence the vote. As I took the opportunity to make dinner, once again I was interrupted by a Conservative Party canvasser, another enthusiastic young man sent to check that I had followed through on my pledge to vote Tory.
I reassured him that I had indeed voted Conservative (but spared him my anti-Theresa May diatribe) and we then spoke about the state of the race here in this ultra-marginal northwest London constituency of Hampstead & Kilburn.
Apparently it is very close indeed, and the campaign is uncertain which way it is going to break (though just how privy a canvasser would be to the latest campaign intelligence is disputable). I was told that the Tories are indeed picking up much of the ex-UKIP vote (UKIP are not running a candidate in the constituency this time) as expected, but that they are also haemorrhaging a number of votes to the Liberal Democrats, specifically angry pro-EU people who have not reconciled themselves to Brexit. And this despite the fact that local Tory candidate Claire-Louise Leyland was an ardent Remainer and campaigned for Stronger In (though she now supports the prime minister’s agenda).
This seems to be in line with my earlier analysis of the state of the race here in Hampstead & Kilburn. With the polls indicating that the Tories should pick up seats nationally, the specific dynamics of the local race in this strongly pro-EU constituency may mean that Tulip Siddiq is able to hang on to the seat for Labour in the face of a strong Conservative headwind.
The Tory canvasser also had a very dim opinion of Theresa May’s leadership and campaigning ability. Almost unprompted by me, he said “oh my god, she’s terrible, isn’t she?!”. Quite. He also thought that a majority of 60 or 70 would be “amazing”, suggesting that expectations have been lowered inside the party as well as to the media.
One thing is certain, though – if the ground troops are openly questioning the leadership of their general on the doorstep then Theresa May should be very worried about her long-term position unless she pulls off a very strong performance tonight.
8 June – 19:40
The conspiracy-minded fringe is now on the Left
Fringe conspiracy theories have typically been associated with the political Right – one thinks of figures such as Alex Jones, David Icke and so on. But increasingly we are seeing paranoid conspiracy theorising emanating from a segment of the political Left which simply cannot understand why its brand of shrill, hectoring, illiberal, identity politics-soaked campaigning is not more popular with the electorate.
One thing is for sure – when the exit poll is released and when the final vote is tallied in the last constituency to report, there will be a stubborn band of left wing zealots who simply refuse to accept the result as a repudiation of their agenda, but rather as evidence of a sinister conspiracy by the Evil Tories.
One of the most disturbing trends has been the number of fringe lunatics on social media openly speculating that the awful Islamist terror attacks in Manchester and London were in fact “false flags” planned (or at least allowed to happen) by the Conservatives in order to shore up support for Theresa May’s government.
Here is one such crackpot:
I’m not doubting that it’s likely Radical-Islamists who carried out the terror attack in Manchester, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the figures in the Tory government might have known the possibility of a potential attack, but for reasons of political expediency did nothing to prevent it from happening. We know prior to 7/7 bombing the security services had kept tabs on members of the terrorist cell which carried out the attack, it’s now a matter of record that the Bush administration had been briefed in the summer of a 2001 there was highly likely to be a terrorist act in the autumn of that year involving aircraft, so tell me again if I’m being fucking ridiculous in suggesting Theresa May might have had prior warning of the Manchester terror attack but did nothing to prevent it from happening to bolster her chances in the General Election because I know that’s what you’re thinking!
I find it a very suspicious coincidence that when Labour are closing the gap in the opinion polls, despite the Tory press being chockfull of accusations attempting to smear Jeremy Corbyn is a terrorist sympathiser, when the Tories are launching attack upon Jeremy Corbyn & Labour being weak on terrorism & national security, there’s suddenly a horrific terrorist attack which enables Theresa May to play the strong leader in a crisis etc, it’s quite possible that the Manchester terror attack is to Theresa May what the Falklands were to Margret Thatcher.
And of course it is perfectly fine to engage in such disgusting speculation, because after all, the Evil Tor-ees kill people all the time as a result of their heartless refusal to firehose endless sums of money at the welfare state:
There of course will be Tory supporters who’ll will be thinking absolutely appalling I accuse Theresa May & the Tory government of allowing peeps (including children) to be killed to win an election, as if the Tories haven’t killed thousands of peeps with disabilities to give their wealthy chums tax cuts, as if successive government haven’t sent young soldiers off to wars for oil & profit, so I really don’t think the establishment would have any qualms killing a few children to win them an election which for them has a great deal riding on it.
And for every one unhinged blogger who openly deals in fringe conspiracy theorising such as this, I’ll wager that there are ten more left-wing activists who nod along with the sentiment if not the details – who believe that the Tories do in fact deliberately want to kill or harm innocent people through their policies (rather than simply believing that the path to self-sufficiency and prosperity doesn’t run through big government and mass dependency on welfare).
This is going to become a real problem for the British political Left. Their uncontrolled fury at the world, at their countrymen who fail to see eye to eye with them, is making them ever more extreme in their actions (vandalising war memorials, physically harassing politicians) and in their public rhetoric. Worse still, the prestige left wing media are starting to indulge in the same unhinged behaviour.
The country at large sees this. The people are watching, taking note and recoiling in disgust. The Left needs to disown these people and exorcise them from their political parties, groups and organisations if they want to maintain even a shred of credibility following this general election.
8 June – 19:15
Getting out the Tory vote
It looks as though the vaunted (and feared) Conservative online / social media marketing effort is humming along quite nicely as they try to get out their vote. Interestingly, the ads showing on Facebook today still make prominent mention of Theresa May over the Conservative Party – it had previously been speculated that the Tories might dial down their focus on the prime minister given her awful, uninspiring election campaign.
8 June – 18:55
An unlikely Tory recruit
In 2015, Brendan O’Neill declined to vote and penned an eloquent defence of his decision. But now in 2017, O’Neill – a fierce and determined critic of the “middle class clerisy” who have infected and taken over the Labour Party – is going a step further and casting his vote for the Conservative Party.
O’Neill explains in Coffee House:
Today, for the first time in my life, I voted Tory. And somewhat disappointingly I haven’t sprouted horns yet. I haven’t been overcome by an urge to pour champagne on homeless people’s heads or to close down my local library and guffaw at any rosy-cheeked child who pleads: ‘But I want books, mister.’ I don’t feel evil. Maybe that stuff comes later. Maybe it takes a few days before you turn into a living, breathing Momentum meme, screaming ‘Screw the poor!’ as you ping your red braces.
In fact I feel good. It always feels good to vote, of course, to hold the fate of the political class in your hands. Election Day is such a wonderful if fleeting reminder of where power ought to lie in a democracy: with us, the crowd, whether we’re clever or thick, good or bad, old or young. I love this feeling, and the undoubted terror it temporarily induces in those who rule over us. But it also feels good to have lost my Tory-voting virginity. For one simple reason: I believe in democracy and press freedom, above everything else, and only the Tories have committed themselves to defending those two things.
In recent years, nothing has better summed up the left’s vicious turn against the plebs it once claimed to like than its disgust with Brexit and its fear of a free, raucous press. In its Brexitphobia, we see its deep discomfort with the whole idea of democracy, with allowing even ‘low information’ people a say in politics. And in its constant, shrill state of fury with the allegedly dangerous red-tops we see its fear of the reading public and what they might start to think if they have access to all sorts of strange, outré opinions. The left’s abandonment of democracy and press freedom really signals the death of this once great movement. Well, I still believe in those two things, and so today, happily, I voted for the only party that says it believes in them too.
O’Neill, recall, is editor of radical left-leaning magazine Spiked Online. And while it’s fair to say that Brendan O’Neill doesn’t represent a particularly large or influential wing of the Labour coalition, the fact that left-libertarians are crossing the floor to vote for Theresa May’s Conservatives (of all parties!) is a damning indictment of the direction of the Labour Party since 1997.
For how much longer can Labour stand in general opposition to Brexit, free speech and the interests of their one-time working class base without provoking a reaction even more extreme than the Corbynite takeover?
8 June – 18:15
How about those LibDems?
Remember when this was going to be the year of the Great LibDem Comeback, when the “voiceless” 48% stood up as one to assert their status as Citizens of the World and Proud Europeans, and rewarded the Liberal Democrats for their strident anti-Brexit stance? Well, it doesn’t seem to be amounting to much.
The day before polls opened, LibDem leader Tim Farron could be found shoring up the vote of Foreign Affairs spokesman and Carshalton incumbent MP, Tom Brake:
Clearly the Liberal Democrats are not on the march up and down the country if Farron is fighting a rearguard effort to cling on to a marginal seat (majority 1510) rather than barnstorming around the country putting the fear of God into marginal Labour and Tory seats.
But how badly would the LibDems have to do for Tim Farron’s leadership to be in danger? While you don’t hear many grumblings in public, I can’t help but wonder whether the LibDem membership (and what’s left of the parliamentary party) might not secretly relish the opportunity to get rid of a leader whose awkward traditional Christian beliefs on the subject of abortion (historically) and homosexuality (potentially still today, though Farron equivocates) have cost the party some bad press and lost momentum.
Of course, this would be hugely unfair. The real reason that Tim Farron should go is that he makes the name “Liberal Democrat” into a laughing stock by often being neither liberal nor democratic – see his eagerness to hold another vote on the terms of our departure from the EU, purely in the hope that this will present an opportunity to thwart the whole thing. By contrast, the fact that Tim Farron holds private religious beliefs which he has no interest or intention of legislating or foisting upon anyone else is surely the calling card of a true liberal – and bizarrely the main root of his unpopularity. Go figure.
8 June – 17:30
No, it doesn’t have to be like this
Let me just slip in this promotion before people start bemoaning our electoral system and the paucity of real democratic choice available to people – a shout out for the Harrogate Agenda.
Their six demands:
1. Recognition of our sovereignty – the people, not the government
2. Real local democracy – devolving power to the counties
3. Separation of powers – separating the executive from the legislature
4. The people’s consent – no treaty ratification without approval
5. No taxation or spending without consent
6. A constitutional convention
This blog has been a long-time supporter. If you find yourself dissatisfied beyond the usual partisan grievances as the results roll in tonight, give the Harrogate Agenda your consideration.
Brexit – in whatever form it ultimately comes – should not and must not be the ultimate end point of this journey. Leaving the EU will not renew our democracy – it merely makes the renewal of our democracy possible. But from that point onward, we must seize the opportunity to reshape our democratic institutions, recover power for ourselves and hold public servants to better account. We need to be more active citizens, not passive consumers who sit about, petulantly demanding More Stuff from the government. This seems as good an opening as any.
8 June – 16:00
The intolerant, illiberal Left do their thing
There have been numerous disturbing reports of left-wing activists buying up all of the copies of right-leaning newspapers from their local shops and newsagents, and then publicly burning them so as to deprive other people of the opportunity to read their pro-Tory headlines, editorials and endorsements.
Brendan O’Neill’s response is absolutely correct:
This is a new low. Members of the Twitterati are boasting about buying up all the tabloids from their local newsagents and either binning them or burning them. Why? To protect the allegedly gullible plebs who read these papers from their anti-Labour editorials in the hope of stopping them from slavishly tramping to the polling station to vote Tory. They are using money and fire to try to deprive the lower orders of political reading material on Election Day. This is one of the foulest acts yet by the Twitterati. Hot tip: when you’re burning literature, you’ve lost the fucking plot.
Even the New Statesman realises that this fascistic action is counterproductive:
Let’s leave aside the obvious similarities between burning newspapers and certain German rituals of the late 30s (Sorry Godwin’s law), there’s another reason this tactic stinks.
Sure, you can accuse the right-wing press of smearing Jeremy Corbyn, cheerleading for the Tories and doing everything they can to stop progressive politics advancing. But trying to deny people the ability to read these newspapers doesn’t just suggest censorship, it is censorship. It’s actively taking away people’s access to information they want. And if anyone thinks they are protecting the poor befuddled Sun or Mail readers from the noxious views contained in those pages, they should probably consider quite how patronising that is.
If we really want people to break free of misplaced right-wing views, to lift the veil placed over their eyes by the right wing press, then we should probably be talking to them.
Talking to conservative voters as intelligent peers rather than hateful or ignorant dupes. What a novel idea.
But if the Left’s violent wing are already burning things before voting has even closed, we should all be concerned about a repeat of the 2015 riots and vandalism. These people do not take defeat well.
8 June – 14:30
Welcome to this semi-partisan live blog of the 2017 general election results. Updates will probably be sparse until later in the evening, picking up pace as we approach poll closing time and the release of the exit poll at 10PM. I’ll keep going for as long as things remain interesting and there are still issues and arguments to dissect, advance and rebut.
For an overall summary of my take on this dismal election campaign as it progressed, see these recent posts in particular:
Regular readers will know that I have struggled to summon any kind of enthusiasm for this general election given the circumstances and the state of the main parties – particularly the current state of conservatism – but I’m sure that the election bug will finally bite at some point this evening, and then we will be up and away.
Thanks for joining, and stay posted!
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