You wouldn’t think it possible, but all three main parties lost in last Thursday’s UK general election.
Labour got hammered, losing 81 seats, mainly to the Tories.
The Liberal Democrats actually lost 5 seats, despite the surge of optimism when they briefly overtook Labour in second place in the polls only two and half weeks ago.
Even the Tories, who gained 87 seats, fought a poorly focused campaign that never caught fire. As a result they failed to gain an absolute majority—quite an achievement considering the disillusionment with Labour across the entire political spectrum and the prime minister’s personal unpopularity.
In fact the only party that didn’t wake up with a postelection hangover was the Green Party, which captured its first seat, Brighton Pavilion. Good old Brighton, my old stamping ground.
The “moral right” to govern
I don’t agree that the Tories have some sort of right to form a government, just because they have the largest number of seats in Britain’s crazily unfair electoral system. If the Tories were supported by 36% of the electorate, that means 64% of the electorate voted against them, so who has the majority here?
I have enjoyed some of the criticisms of smoothy David Cameron from his own party:
Another senior and normally loyal Tory MP complained that Cameron's big idea for the campaign – "the Big Society", under which armies of volunteers would come together to tackle the country's ills – was "complete crap". "We couldn't sell that stuff on the doorstep. It was pathetic. All we needed was a simple message on policy. We could have won a majority if we had not had to try to sell this nonsense."Ha, ha, tough luck! That’s what you get when you put PR and spin ahead of serious practical issues.
This one from a “senior frontbencher” is even better:
He ran his campaign from the back of his Jaguar with a smug, smarmy little clique – people like Osborne, [Oliver] Letwin and Michael Gove. He should get rid of all of them. The party will settle for nothing less.
Broon the Loon
Mind you, the Labour leader comes across as less likable every day. Fresh from his display of charm on the campaign trail where he in advertently called a voter a “bigoted woman” on TV ...
... according to a "very senior Lib Dem source who is involved in the negotiations with the Conservatives" Brown has now taken his bullying manner into the delicate negotiations with the Liberal Democrats:
The source told the BBC's Jon Sopel that during the leaders' conversation last night, the tone went "downhill" at the mention of resignation. It was claimed Mr Brown's approach was to begin "a diatribe" and "a rant" and the source said the Labour leader was "threatening in his approach to Nick Clegg". Mr Clegg was said to have came off the phone assured that it would be impossible to work with Brown because of his attitude towards working with other people.
If it is true that Brown’s obnoxious personal style has prevented a Labour—Lib Dem deal (which surely most voters for both parties would prefer to a Tory—Lib Dem alliance) that means that Brown has managed to carry his capacity for self-inflicted wounds right to the bitter end of his premiership.
This Liberal Democrat website has quite a good summary of the options that face the party, which amount to three: (i) a deal with the Tories, (ii) a deal with Labour, or (iii) no deal, but allow a minority Tory government.
The author reckons the third is the most likely, which means Britain could well be going to the polls again in 18 months.