Well, I guess my prediction last month of a Tory ‘landslide’ was a slight exaggeration! What I should have seen, which has become increasingly obvious over the past few weeks, has been, as far as England is concerned, a massive return to the two party politics of the immediate post war years. Ironically, the probable percentage of the votes that the Tories are likely to gain this time was very similar to that which gave Lady Thatcher and Tony Blair their ‘landslide’ victories in 1983 and 1997 respectively.
Viewed from the sidelines this was probably the most depressing General Election I can remember. Instead of a ‘strong and stable’ government we look likely to get a ‘weak and unstable’ government possibly led by a new PM and conceivably underpinned by ten Democratic Ulster Unionists which is about to embark on a task of disentangling us from the European Union, which would make our dismantling of our Empire after WW2 look like a cakewalk.
Again, Europe may prove to be the rock on which yet another Tory Prime Minister’s career may have foundered. If the words ‘strong and stable’ can be applied anywhere it must surely appear now to be to our partners in the EU.
An election which most agree was called by the Tories hubristically for party political reasons looks to have turned out like the first General Election in 1974. The question PM Ted Heath asked the country then was “Who governs, the government or the Trades Unions?” and the answer would appear to have been “Not you, mate”. What was supposed to be about giving Theresa May a bigger mandate to negotiate Brexit morphed quickly into an election about domestic issues, which the Labour Party cleverly exploited. However, I am yet to be convinced that even half of its promises could be delivered without most of us paying a little more. As they say “No gain without some pain”. Personally I haven’t got a problem with that; but I’m used to being in a minority.
As for the ‘minor’ parties, and here I include the SNP in national terms, it was a case of “you win some and you lose some”. They all found it hard to get their message across and were not helped by our “winner takes all” voting system.
So, where do we go from here? Should we postpone Brexit negotiations? Will 2017 be like 1974 and will we get another General Election later this year? Will we get a new Prime Minister? What an unholy mess we appear to be in.
Welcome to Fantasy Land. We can blame our politicians if we want. I think we need collectively to look in the mirror first. Perhaps my idea of a poisoned chalice for whoever gets to take up the challenge may not be that far from the mark.
John Marriott is a former Lib Dem county councillor for Hykeham. A former Head of Languages at the North Kesteven School, he represented Hykeham Forum Division on the Lincolnshire County Council. From 1987 to 2011 he was a member of the North Hykeham Town Council and also served for 18 years on the North Kesteven District Council, finally standing down in 2007. He has lived in Hykeham since 1977.