The election is finally over and you were not expecting that result were you? No, well if he’s 100% honest, neither was David Cameron.
A Conservative majority returned out of nowhere after 23 years. I had moaned for months that the polls had to be wrong. There was so much inconsistency and movement within the margin of error that it rendered them completely unreliable. In particular the famed Ashcroft marginal polls turned out to be in the main, complete fantasy.
At around 10:01pm, the exit poll caused audible gasps in TV studios, Downing Street, Labour HQ, and the front rooms of millions of voters up and down the country, but it ended up being far more accurate than any of the professional pollsters. These same pollsters who are seriously rethinking future profit forecasts are also being investigated by the British Polling Council.
So what does the election result mean for the country and the various political parties?
It's time to deliver on your campaign promises Mr. Cameron
For David Cameron and the Conservatives it was a very impressive win from what seemed to be an impossible position. The Conservative scare tactic of the likely influence of the SNP in a future Labour led coalition is likely to have done the trick by causing many to wobble in the polling booth.
The Conservatives now have a small majority and if they maintain their own party discipline (that’s a big ‘if’ where Europe is concerned) there is no reason why they cannot govern for the whole five years of the next Parliament. But inevitably, due to the “a third term is too much like three Shredded Wheat” faux pas of the PM, minds will start to focus very quickly on who succeeds David Cameron and that could be their undoing three years from now.
But for now, Cameron is in a strong position and must deliver on the promises he has made. He can no longer shrug off the broken promises of 2010 and blame the Lib Dems for any lack of action on immigration, English Votes for English Laws, an EU referendum and tax cuts.
Labour needs a new direction, not just a shiny new leader
For the Labour Party, it was a very, very bad night. Labour essentially failed to learn the lessons of 1983 and 1992 and equally failed to learn from the success of Tony Blair. The British people by and large do not elect left wing Governments.
Labour also failed to realise that the English do have a tolerance threshold and that their tolerance is not unlimited. The English will not put up with being walked all over forever and a day and will certainly not be dictated to by Scottish free loading socialists wanting them to pay for their free for all state and underwrite their future debts.
Labour now have to regroup and review. If they have any sense at all, they will cut their political links with the trade unions. They will put an end to their influence in the Labour Party leadership and selection of candidates and keep them far away from influencing party policy.
Labour also need to learn to embrace English patriotism instead of seeing it as an opportunity to label it racist or smear it as trait of the right wing. Equally stopping the sneer at wealth creators and shackling business may also help them to re-build. Above all, they have to position themselves to the centre-left, not the left. If they work hard, develop a narrative based on economic competence and social justice with actions and not just words they will bounce back. Veer further to the left and they may just end up getting a visit late at night from the ghost of Elections past in the form of Michael Foot and end up like the Liberal Democrats in the bed of political wilderness for a generation.
Liberal Democrats will start a very long road to recovery
If it was a very, very bad night for Labour then it was catastrophic for the Liberal Democrats – a complete meltdown. They lost almost a staggering 90% of their MPs and are left as an irrelevant rump of a party.
Quite how one part of the coalition that has run the country for the last five years can be rewarded by the electorate with increased popular support and yet the other half of that same coalition can be wiped out as an electoral force overnight is beyond me, but that is what happened.
No doubt, Clegg’s broken promise on tuition fees ensured that the Liberal Democrats never really recovered. But why Cameron’s broken promise on immigration did not affect the Tory vote in the same way is a mystery. Tuition fees simply did not surface in the concerns of the electorate; immigration was their number one concern!
However, the Liberal Democrats had their heart and soul ripped out of them in the early hours of Friday morning and it is very difficult to see at the moment how they will ever recover. A further period of decline and irrelevance awaits them I am afraid, whoever leads them. Their local government base, always a strength of the Lib Dems, is down to less than 600 councillors nationwide, with one MEP and 8 MPs – this is devastating for them.
UKIP must look to the opportunities ahead
For UKIP on the face of it they will feel they had a disappointing night with only one MP re-elected and the other being defeated. But overall my congratulations go to them.
UKIP stood up to the most ferocious eighteen months onslaught of smears, innuendo and lies from both left and right of the media and the political establishment. Yet, despite this highly toxic and deliberate campaign against them they secured 4 million votes and 13% of the national share of the vote. This share of the vote was bigger than that of the SNP and Liberal Democrats combined making UKIP the third party of British politics in terms of popular vote.
UKIP’s persistence forced Cameron into giving ground on an EU referendum in 2017 and put immigration at the top of the political agenda. They have much to be buoyant about and with their leader resigning (albeit for a four month break) there is no doubt Nigel Farage will return in early October fully refreshed and ready to battle for a no vote in the promised EU referendum.
The Greens need to look up the definition of "surge"
For the Greens, the surge turned into no more than a ripple. The likeable Caroline Lucas was re-elected, they had a very funny boy-band Party Political Broadcast, which went down well but as the Labour and the Liberal Democrats found out, the British people do not vote for left wing policies. They were kind of talking to themselves for the most part of the election campaign and I can’t see that changing much as we progress to 2020.
Looking to the next five years
To my fellow country men and women thank you again for renewing our democracy regardless of how you voted, I salute you.
I have been a big critic of David Cameron and his leadership style on this blog. Today, I am pressing the reset button, extending an olive branch and I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Prime Minister you now have the authority to act like a Prime Minister and a proper Conservative. The chains are off, deliver on your promises and don't let us down. No ifs – no buts – I will be watching.