Friday, May 06, 2005

Final Verdict

Firstly, I need to get a life. I know far too many MPs, I knew their majorities with worrying accuracy. This is not a healthy sign, and yet I know that I will be poring over results with a fine toothcomb in the days to come.

Secondly, the Tories would have done much better without Michael Howard and his immigration campaign. Most of the gains they have made are pretty much expected - it's the unwinding of the 1997 landslide in many ways. Yes, it still reflects the uneven electoral geography of the country, and I suspect had the Tories been a real contender in many seat, they would have done better. With the Boundary Commission to make their changes in the next year or so, then maybe there is much to be cheerful about. But, with the unpopularity of Blair and the Labour government, they could have and should have done better. Howard will spin this as a vindication of himself; it is not. They need to move back to the centre right, and fast.

Thirdly, Labour should be pretty disappointed by the way things have gone. One of the problems they have is that people like Twigg, who they would ideally have had in a safe seat by now, are instead lost for a while. Furthermore, polls everywhere have shown that voters want to give Labour a kicking in whatever form. It's a historic third term, but hardly a resounding win. Still, my earlier comments about the Mandelsonian legacy hold true. It's the electoral geography wot won it.

Finally, the Lib Dems can be pleased with their seat gains, but they should be careful about reading too much into the results. They've gained a lot in terms of vote share, but this has largely been at the expense of Labour, and pretty often in fairly safe Labour seats. There are serious directional problems the party needs to address, and fast, and I suspect their overall poll rating is a little higher than it might otherwise have been. Iraq looms large now, but it won't 4 or 5 years from now, and their leftist ground may well have been taken away from them.