Theresa May is utterly humiliated, forced to rely on the Democratic Unionists for a majority. Jeremy Corbyn has exceeded all expectations. Far from losing ground, Labour made a net gain of 30 seats – not just in the north and Wales but in London, the south-east and south-west – and regained ground in Scotland. Corbyn’s critics have been silenced and his position as leader is now in no doubt. Theresa May, by contrast, is on borrowed time, as is her government. The prospect of another general election, either later this year or early in 2018, looms large.
I was on the doorstep in Bedford – one of the seats that Labour unexpectedly gained – on election day and it was clear that something was afoot. To my surprise, no doors were slammed in our faces: instead Labour voters were turning out in their droves, as were former Tory and UKIP voters and those who’d never voted before.
But it’s easy to forget, amidst all the jubilation on the centre-left, that Labour lost this election. Badly. Labour won 262 seats, nine fewer than Kinnock did in 1992, and only three more than Gordon Brown in 2010. Given that both 1992 and 2010 are remembered as catastrophic defeats for Labour, it’s difficult to see the 2017 result as a triumphant success.
Like most observers my predictions were way out: in a blogpost on the eve of the election I predicted a Tory majority of 55. But the gist of my argument – that Theresa May would do better than she deserved to, and that Labour had no chance of winning – still held true. Exceeding expectations is not the same as winning. Continue reading