This morning the UK has a Tory government. Not a coalition, but a full on Conservative government. All the polls were wildly wrong (bar the odd Guardian one that put the Tories six or seven points ahead of Labour) but those astonishing exit polls were spot on. Of course the possibility is that people were ashamed to say they were voting Tory, and right now apart from the diehards social media is curiously absent of people proclaiming that they voted Tory, but still that’s oddly not the story of the night.
The story of the night is the SNP. They’re on 56 seats out of 59 in Scotland. I think even the most optimistic SNP supporter expected the map of Scotland to look like this compared to five years ago.
One Tory, one Labour, one Lib Dem each left in Scotland. 56 anti-austerity MP’s united by a common message and all from a variety of backgrounds outside of the political bubble, and of course the welcome return to Westminster of Alex Salmond who should at the very least make the opposition to the Tories interesting. The SNP now have to live up to the massive mandate they now have at Westminster and will probably get next year at Holyrood.
Everyone else lost. Labour and the Lib Dems got hammered for failing to present an alternative vision and being attached to the Tories respectfully. Labour’s failure that started the moment Tony Blair got rid of Clause 4 is now complete and seeing MP’s like Douglas Alexander, Margaret Curran and Jim Murphy be kicked out isn’t just because they stood with the Tories at the referendum last year, but because they’ve failed Scotland and the UK to line their own pockets and put the party first. Labour have to realise they cannot ever come back from this by being a centre right party and this excellent blog by the journalist Paul Mason should be the first thing any new Labour leader reads. Labour now have to find out what they actually are as they’re not a party of the left, or the right, or the centre. Milliband could have headed up a united left but he failed. Fuck, he could have actually been of the left!
And then there’s the Lib Dems. They’re not even going to get double figures in terms of MP’s. They’ve failed on a massive scale and Nick Clegg only seems to have saved his arse thanks to Tory voters backing him. Liberal values are gone, lost because five years ago Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander and the rest fancied those big ministerial cars, the salaries, the expenses and the power. They enabled the Tories all the way and failed to pull them back so their destruction means little to me, but I do think there’s a need for a party of the centre.
That party could be the Greens but they too failed to get more than one MP. The same number as UKIP that couldn’t even get Nigel Farage elected, and frankly fuck UKIP. I don’t really want to think of the implications of today regarding UKIP.
But this morning we face five more years of the Tories, probably helped along with the bigots in the DUP, and thanks to the Fixed Terms Parliament Act, the only way of getting rid of them is a vote of no-confidence and I have no confidence that Labour will support one of those as right now the candidates for replacing Ed Milliband are equally uninspiring and reek of the same political class that so alienated voters from Milliband’s Labour. The Tories now stand to make £12 billion in cuts, spend £20 billion of tax cuts for the rich, privatise the NHS, demonise immigrants, the poor, the disabled or anyone that isn’t them.
On this morning the only hope is the SNP and their allies the Greens and Plaid Cymru. A larger anti-austerity voice poking and prodding the Tories (and there are some elected SNP MP’s outside of Salmond who are quickly going to become hate figures from the right wing press and the Tories) at every single opportunity. The one thing 56 SNP MP’s guarantee is that they’ll have a voice (and as the third largest party they get the right to be third in every single Prime Minister’s Questions) and it is going to be heard and it will change the UK as right now the Tories have no mandate to govern in Scotland, a point barely being mentioned right now because the implications of that are enormous.
But there is hope for the people of England and Wales. Plaid Cymru have seen their vote share rise, and local English parties like Yorkshire First have made their first baby steps at introducing a English regional form of the SNP’s social democracy and civic nationalism to counteract UKIP’s far right racism and the Tory/Labour Unionism. Leftish voters voting UKIP may be doing so because for all of UKIP’s obvious bigotry they provide an anti establishment voice, something Labour don’t do and don’t understand that a number of people have had their fill of the British establishment.
Labour can shed their skin too thanks to the electorate getting rid of some major figures. They can think about doing something new, not just aping Tory or UKIP ideas and that will mean a lot of pain but frankly even had Labour been put into power today, they’d still have to adapt but this gives them the jolt they needed because frankly, this is probably their worst defeat in a UK election in my lifetime. Perhaps if they’d supported electoral reform during the 13 years they had in government things could be different, but every single mistake Labour has made over the last 30 years has come back to punish them today. So those that still believe in the Labour idea need to stop throwing around blame, dry their eyes and sort it out because the people of England need them to.
See, five more years of the Tories mean lives being ruined and destroyed. It means the end of the welfare state. It means something terrible but it’s not all lost, but take today to drown your sorrows and start tomorrow to fight against the Tories and unite behind the progressive parties because right now they’re all we’ve got to fight the Tories on their own ground of Westminster.