Never in the field of human elections have so many experts been so wrong for so long. Some time ago controversial US presidential hopeful, Sarah Palin, was roundly ridiculed for saying of political polls “Polls? Nah… they’re for strippers and cross country skiers.” However after last week you could be forgiven for thinking they are more use on the piste than in the papers.
In a move that has dumfounded the pundits and the Labour Party, the UK electorate have come out in favour of the Conservative agenda. All the talk of red lines, coalition and deals is simply dead in the water. Those sad enough, like me, to stay up and watch the action develop on election night were presented to a spectacle like no other.
Having been presented with a certain fait accompli by most media outlets and commentators, then walking into the election count to be greeted by an exit poll suggesting a blue team victory was frankly unbelievable. Even on these very pages a narrative had played out suggesting that Lucy Rigby was a shoo-in to replace Karl McCartney as Member of Parliament for this key bellweather seat. As the night drew on the hope became a reality as the Labour vote stalled, UKIP failed to gain any sort of traction and our one time coalition partners, the Lib Dems, collapsed.
We woke to a new dawn with David Cameron firmly installed as Prime Minister with an unthinkable majority of 12 in the House of Commons. Lincolnshire is still blue at both local and Parliamentary level with only Lincoln City Council remaining red.
So what of the future? Well in simple terms Cameron has a job on his hands, his bold ambitious manifesto around the economy and taxation now has to be delivered, it’s tough enough to ‘walk the walk’ during a campaign but now the real job begins.
The impact in Lincolnshire is going to be significant. In the same way thousands of jobs were created during the last parliament and an unparalleled number of families had their tax lifted, we can expect more of the same as a sound long term economic plan continues to pay dividends to hard working families across the region.
I also think it’s fair to say the obviously popular welfare reforms will continue. Ian Duncan Smith’s laudable ambition to liberate people from the welfare poverty trap by encouraging employment will undoubtedly continue. I suspect without the Liberal Democrats to cool reform we’ll see more radical approaches to social policy with the right to buy plan expanding to enable more people to step onto the property ladder for the first time. Cameron has already pledged to see the welfare benefits cap reduced to £23,000 per annum from the present £26,000, further emphasising the role of working over benefit dependency.
Perhaps even more controversially we are probably going to see proper constitutional reform with the frankly criminal imbalance of constituency size being redressed properly. Here in Lincolnshire current constituencies vary in size from approximately 70,000 right the way through to nearly 90,000. The Conservative stated ambition to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and standardise the size of each electoral area will see revisions in the local boundaries so that by the time of the next election you may find yourself living in another constituency.
Finally we have the question of Europe. Unable to deliver his promised referendum during the last parliament David Cameron has just two years until the deadline passes to give the British people a vote on continuing membership of the European Union. This will be a crucial decision for Lincolnshire businesses in particular and I really hope that the requisite prior negotiation will bring about the substantive reforms that will hopefully persuade us all to retain membership. However unless these discussions really get a handle on the immigration concerns many have then I fear we will leave the union. The only way I see the people of Lincolnshire supporting the European project is if it returns to be a free trade scheme and loses the trappings of political union that rightly us Anglo Saxons abhor.