There’s an awful lot of politics going on these days. We’ve just had a bit of a political earthquake in the UK or at least a nasty aftershock after last year’s Brexit vote. Prime Minister May decided to have a snap general election to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations which start on 19th June. With her personal standing in the country head and shoulders above all her rivals and the Conservative party 20 points ahead of their nearest rivals, it looked like a walk over and she would be returned with a huge majority in Parliament. It didn’t happen. The numbers converged and we now have a hung parliament with the Consevatives the largest party but, if the rest got together, they can block anything she wants to do.

The map above shows where the parties hold power. The blue areas were won by the Consevatives, it looks impressive but they are, mostly, the big, affluent, thinly populated country areas. The red areas are the Labour areas. They are strong in the big cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle. Small in area but dense in population. The orange areas are the Liberal Democrats, a centrist party. The yellow areas are the Scottish National Party, a political party that would dearly like independence for Scotland. The green areas are Plaid Cymru, a Welsh party not as strong as the Scottish National Party. Look carefully on the south coast of England, south of the red blob of London, between two red patches there is another green patch. This is the constituency of Brighton Pavilion, the only place where the Green Party have an MP. Seaside city Brighton does like to march to the beat of its own drum.

Tom’s ideas about what’s happened….

CONSERVATIVES. The Consevatives should have won handsomely. They didn’t. I think it’s for three reasons. First, it was all about Theresa May. They thought she was so strong that she could carry the country with her but, as we got to see her more, she came across as cold and distant. Other big personalities in the party, including Boris, were kept out of the campaign. Second they talked about Brexit to the exclusion of everything else so we never got to know there they stood on other important issues. Bad move. The third reason was Brexit itself. The vote in 2016 was very close. Since then it’s been all about the people who voted leave. Those of us who voted remain have been sidelined. Yesterday we voted and made our voice heard. Brexit will have to be considerably softened now (we were going to crash out of Europe in a hard Brexit) and there will have to be changes in our approach to Brexit. Especially as the Conservatives will need a Northern Ireland party to support them, the DUP. They don’t want a hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland. Neither do we. A hard border could take them back to the bad old days of virtual civil war. Yesterday’s election will stop that.

LABOUR. ┬áLabour have lost. They have a deeply divisive leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has spent the last six weeks wandering round the country promising everyone who will listen free money. He could do that because he knew he’d not win. Young voters have been seduced by all that but older voters aren’t so gullible. Personally, I’d want to see the money in my bank before I’d vote for him. They are posturing today as if they have won. They haven’t. They won a few constituencies in university towns where they promised to pay everyone’s tuition fees but that was that. But they have decisively lost but are in delusional denial.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS, PLAID CYMRU, GREENS. These three parties are too small to have any real effect on politics. Fun to have about but not powerful enough.

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY. The leader of this party, Nicola Sturgeon, wants Scotland to be independent. They had a referendum a couple of years ago and the Scots said ‘No’. Then Brexit happened. Scotland voted to stay in Europe while the UK narrowly voted to leave. Ms. Sturgeon started banging on about having another independence referendum. That’s all you ever hear from her. The Scots have had enough. Yesterday morning all but two constituencies in Scotland were controlled by her party. Last night she lost 21 of them to the Conservatives and Labour.

So there we are. Another fine mess. It’s going to be fun seeing how they get out of this one.

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