By Martha Kool, Senior Associate
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Conservatives have won the general election today. While this could have been predicted, the majority they have achieved has been a huge surprise. Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he will stand down as Leader of the Labour Party (but not yet), but avoided taking responsibility for the result – the party has instead blamed Brexit for their huge loss of seats.
Labour has, as usual, held on to most London seats – their losses came in the North, with stronghold after stronghold turning blue. The party’s traditional bond with working class voters is definitely showing cracks. It’s a reminder for many of how easy it is to be misled by social media and party members in terms of election predictions. Corbyn and Momentum’s left-wing politics, which proved popular with a lot of young members, obviously didn’t impress the rest of the country – more so than most saw coming.
The Lib Dems, too, had a terrible night. Leader Jo Swinson lost her seat to the SNP, who achieved an incredible result across Scotland. Swinson “stepped down” as Leader immediately (although she hardly had much choice), leaving behind a party with only 11 seats. Labour voters have been left angry by the Lib Dems effectively handing tories seats, most notably in Kensington, the constituency of Grenfell Tower. Conservative candidate Felicity Buchan gained the seat from Labour’s Emma Dent Coad, pretty obviously because the Lib Dem’s split the vote share rather than standing aside.
Clearly, both Labour and the Lib Dems will need to review the current situation within their parties. It will be interesting to see whether Labour will choose a more centrist Leader to win back former supporters, or if members will stick to the left.
So why did the Conservatives do so well? They made massive gains in the country’s regions that voted to Leave – Corbyn’s ambiguous position on Brexit did not pay off. They gained working class voters who were unimpressed by Labour’s radical left-wing policies. After a campaign surrounded by fake news controversy and questions about the honesty of Johnson’s manifesto promises, it turned out that their clear-cut policies on the big issues were enough.
In his speech outside Number 10 this afternoon, Boris Johnson thanked first-time tory voters, assured remainers that their “feelings of warmth” towards EU countries will not be ignored, and stressed that the NHS will be a focus of his Government (repeating the much-questioned 50,000 new nurses stat). As proven by the election result, Brexit will be in the spotlight as soon as MPs return to Westminster. As the Prime Minister is so fond of saying, his Brexit deal is ‘oven ready’ – time to pop it in the microwave.