Still a few results to come in but it looks as though there will be a weak and wobbly Conservative government dependent upon support from the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party. Several different trends seem to have emerged. Governing parties (Conservatives and Scottish Nationalists) lost ground, yet big parties prospered at the expense of small ones. The most pro-Brexit party, UKIP, was more or less eliminated. More young people voted this time and they caused much of the upset. This is another of those odd British elections in which the combined left parties got more votes yet the combined right parties got more seats (similar to what happened in the US presidential).

Theresa May is trying to stay on as prime minister, but I can't see this working. The Conservative Party are intolerant of losers. The position of the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, has strengthened, but not enough to make him PM. All this bodes ill for the EU negotiations because it is difficult to believe that any government formed in this circumstance can actually deliver what it promises. A weak Conservative government trying to bring about a "hard" Brexit when the electorate clearly do not want it is not a happy scenario. We could be in for another election before very long.

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  • You could well be right. It would explain the solidarity of her colleagues. The Conservatves may also believe that we need the Brexit negotiations to go ahead, May in secret could have agreed to stand down and allow a new leader to call an election as soon as the talks are complete and a deal in place.
  • My Hunch

    While mowing the grass, I pondered the missing piece in this situation. There are a number of facts that are a bit odd. There has been no leadership challenge. May does not seem at all contrite. She seems to be, as far as she can, carrying on as if nothing had happened. Yet she did not pursue the election campaign with the kind of wholeheartedness that one might have expected. Also, the election was called even though she had said there would be no snap elections. Now one can put this all down to expediency, incompetence, selfishness or whatever, but I don't find that altogether convincing. My interest in politics is not particularly partisan, it is more spiritual and psychological. I want to see what makes people tick and I want to see the spirit of the times at work and try to get some insight.

    So the hunch that I came up with somewhere in the middle of the east lawn was that what we are not being told and shall not be told until the memoirs are written is that (and this is purely my guess, my attempt to put the bits together)... is that Theresa May was perhaps the least enthusiastic in the cabinet room about having this election. I suspect that it was her cabinet colleagues who wanted to cash in on a 20 point opinion poll lead and forced her hand. As leader she had to take responsibility for the decision. This makes sense of her saying early in the campaign that one cannot take a win for granted. It makes sense of her present attitude - I think that in certain ways she feels vindicated and those who would be the only ones who would be in a position to challenge her feel that it was they who got it wrong. Many are saying that she should now have a more collegiate style and listen more to her colleagues, but she could well be thinking that the one time she did listen to them it has turned out very badly just as she feared it might.

    Of course, I could be entirely wrong, but it does make sense of the bits that do not add up on the basis of the currently popular perception. Perhaps there is another explanation entirely, and if there is I would love to know what it is.

  • As I said earlier, May's position is extremely fragile and could collapse anytime. Effectively what is being currently proposed is an alliance of three groups. She is not only dependent upon the goodwill of the DUP, but also of the 13 Scottish Conservatives. Ruth Davidson pulled off some considerable Conservative gains north of the border and so now has some independent leverage which is a counter-weight to the DUP since, broadly, the DUP are more conservative than the Conservatives, but the Scottish Conservatives are more liberal than the English ones. But such an alliance is very vulnerable in the UK system and anything could happen.

  • In the position she is in she would be severely criticised for stepping down at this point. It would be said that she was abdicating her responsibility. She will go when her party decide that they need a new leader. In politics appearance and reality are not always aligned. In this election the Conservatives actually got a larger share of the vote than they have had in any of the three previous elections. Corbyn is being rightly congratulated for lifting his party from dismal to mediocre - certainly an achievement and more than was expected, but Labout is still, on vote share, at a lower ebb than it has been, with only two exceptions, since 1931. It is stretching it to say that somebody received a "huge vote of no confidence" when they got the most votes and the most seats of all contenders. However, Macron in France has got only three quarters of the vote share that May got in UK, and less than Corbyn got, yet he is getting a landslide victory for his trouble, since all the others got considerably less. 

    One mistake that May made was not that of calling an election but of not calling it earlier. Both she and Gordon Brown would have been better advised to call elections a month after assuming the leadership. This would have been seen as honourable and proper and even if they had lost they would still have had dignity and probably have kept the leadership of their respective parties. A second mistake was to run the election campaign as if from "on high" which was tempting providence too much.

  • If May had any integrity she would have stood down. How stupid to call an election when you have a majority and three years of office left. To then have a huge vote of no confidence, and to have a hung parliament with Corbyn in opposition is that. And not stand down is incredibley selfish.
  • In today's cabinat reshuffle perhaps the person who emerged from Number 10 looking most gleeful was Andrea Leadsome. I imagine that she went in expecting to get the sack - which probably would have been the case had TM been in a stronger position - but, in fact, emerged as Leader of the House of Commons, which actually seems like quite a good role for her.

    (You may remember that it was Andrea Leadsome who was in the last two in the contest for the Conservative leadership with Theresa May.)

  • I've just watched the highlights of the BBC interview of Jeremy Corbyn by Andrew Marr and it is very apparent that this election has done JC a huge amount of good. He came across as cool, calm and collected, with a light yet serious touch. As a politician he has matured a great deal from his earlier days as Labour Leader and his recent boost has given him confidence. A couple of years ago many people were saying that he was unelectable and at that time it was quite likely true, but I don't think many people will say that now. This means that the contest inside and outside the House of Commons is going to be much more real than it has been for several years.

    We are also hearing that Theresa May is being persuaded or coerced into adopting a much less dictatorial style. We shall see if she can carry this off. Will she rely more or less exclusively upon the small group of Hard Brexiteers or will she be more influenced by moderates in the cabinet where there is probably now a slight majority of Remainers. Having a "strong" PM is not always for the best. She is likely to have been chastened by this election experience. One hopes that she too has matured in the process and that somehow out of all this something emerges that is in the truly best interests of the country and the world.

  • Well, perhaps, but whoever took over from her now, from whatever party, or whoever from within the Conservatives, will also be in a very perilous position. Really they would probably be best advised to call another general election immediately. But this then delays Brexit negotiations for another couple of months and while the 27 nations has, astonishingly, managed to agree their negotiating position without difficulty, neither major UK party has a clear approach that they can unite behind, nor one that will carry more than a section of the general population. This is an awful position in which to be PM. It is more a case of hanging onto no power. I think of poor John Major who had a slightly bigger majority and had a terrible time and could get next to nothing done. Italy used to have the reputation of being the ungovernable country in Europe. Now it seems to be becoming the UK. Much of this is really down to having relied upon a referendum in the first place. Referenda are not good government because the people who decide then have no responsibility for carrying out what they decided. We, the people, put our servants, the politicians, in an impossible position.

  • So sad to see people clinging to power at any cost. She should have stood down and maintained some dignity. Theresa May has done herself no favours. She has shown no respect to the party or people she represents.
  • Despite what is being said, I shall be quite surprised if Theresa May is still PM this time next week and even if she survives that long she will remain in an extremely weak position. The present arrangement is barely supportable. The Tories do not want to have a leadership election when Brexit negotiations are about to start - that is understandable - but it is difficult to see how good can come of negotiations with such an enfeebled government - one that may collapse at any time. The alliance with DUP will not please all Tories. Even with it, for any government to maintain the kind of rigid party discipline necessary to govern with a majority of 3 or 4 seats is always extremely difficult. Things happen. Upsets occur. Government business to which any degree of controversy attaches is likely to fall. Normally this situation would lead almost immediately to a leadership contest followed not long after by yet another general election, but in the circumstances of Brexit this is doubly difficult. Britain was already in a weak position, and now is even more so. This is reflected in the continuing decline in the value of the pound, which in turn leads to higher prices and falling living standards which will lead to more public discontent. The idea that the Tory party can go on like this for five more years is absurd. In any case it would only take three by-election losses to eliminate the majority completely and in present circumstances that is quite likely to have occurred before the Brexit negotiations are complete. The election story is certainly not over yet.

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