Slight winners? Labour, I’d say. In real terms, at least. They’ve still got the Scottish Parliament (despite – or perhaps because of – dire warnings about the rise of the SNP). They’ve still got the Welsh Assembly. In both cases, it looks like they haven’t lost anywhere near as many seats as everyone was expecting. That, under their present circumstances, is a major victory.
Losers? The Tories – they look not to have made anywhere near the gains that they should have done, considering just how God-damned AWFUL and unpopular Labour have been for the last few years. Hardly any progress, once again, outside England – meaning that all other parties can paint any Tory attacks on Gordon Brown thanks to the West Lothian Question as mere sour grapes because the Scots and Welsh don’t like Tories. (Not that that will stop them.)
The major losers? The Lib Dems (bar our very own Nick Barlow – long-time blogger and contributor to both The Sharpener and Fistful). Looks so far like both Labour and the Tories have increased their overall share of the vote at the Lib Dems’ expense. The last couple of General Elections were, after all, an aberration. As the Tories begin to be taken more seriously again, little surprise that the third man of British politics is forgotten once again – people like to back the winner.
More major losers? The Electoral Reform Society. In Scotland it’s being claimed that “tens of thousands” of ballot papers have ended up spoiled – in (at least) one constituency with so many spoiled ballots that they outnumbered the votes of the winning candidate. This doesn’t appear to have been a coordinated “None of the Above” effort, but sheer confusion at the experimental and muddled electoral system north of the border. Which will, for years to come, be used by politicians across all parties to show that proper electoral reform is silly, and shake off all calls for a better system of electing Westminster MPs. This is a very bad thing.
The major winners? The electorate. Despite problems in Scotland, by the looks of things they didn’t allow themselves to get carried away with anti-Blair and anti-Iraq war nonsense, nor with ill-considered nationalist rhetoric in Scotland. The voters of the (still) United Kingdom would, it would appear, generally have based their local votes on local issues – just as they should have done. They also aren’t stupid enough to have got so annoyed with Labour that they’ll vote for the Tories in a landslide, as so stupidly and damagingly happened the other way around in 1997. This is A. GOOD. THING. – replacing a Blair with a massive majority with a Cameron with a massive majority is just about the worst thing that could happen to this country (bar Charles Clarke in charge*)
* Note how the Sun was the only paper stupid enough to interpret Clarke’s comments praising Brown as “faint praise” indicating a last-ditch challenge. No one else (who noticed) did. What a bunch of idiots.