Well, who saw that coming? Maybe Prof. John Curtice, but that’s not the point.
After the dust is settling on the Conservative disaster that was the General Election, I have a few thoughts on the challenging situation they, and by extension, we, find ourselves in.
Let’s firstly go to the rather horrendous thought of a Conservative-DUP coalition, whether formal, or informal, and some of the implications for Northern Ireland, before turning to the political difficulties.
Northern Ireland has for most of this year been without a Legislative Assembly or Executive. Power-sharing talks collapsed in January, 5 months ago, and since then there has been no agreement between the Republican Sinn Fein Party and the Unionist DUP, as per the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Now, as talks go on, the role of the UK Government is to serve as an impartial, neutral mediator to facilitate talks. If the Conservatives form a Government with the support of the DUP, however informal, then their role as neutral arbiters is… well, non-existent really. I do not mean to insinuate what the people of Northern Ireland might do in response to this given the polarisation in their politics, but it can’t be good for the situation, any which way you look at it. For an expert analysis of this situation, I suggest you read Siobhan Fenton of the Independent, or follow her on Twitter for running commentary (@SiobhanFenton). Northern Ireland is a country that needs governing, and this move will condemn it to direct rule, the implications of which are equally troubling.
The political implications of a Tory-DUP coalition, notwithstanding the Northern Irish situations, are also ominous. Firstly, there are many Conservatives who would plainly be opposed, such as Anna Soubry, Dominic Grieve, and Nicky Morgan, the latter of which gave an interview condemning the DUP stance on LTBTQ+ rights. This spells trouble for an already fragile majority, and an even more fragile Prime Minister. Not to mention the fact Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative Leader, took to Twitter yesterday to have a subtle dig at the DUP-Tory alliance. The Scottish Conservative votes are ones May cannot afford to alienate; if they were to rebel, May would possess only 305 seats, so even with DUP support, she is well short of a majority. Not to mention the fact many moderate Conservative voters would be repulsed at the idea of the DUP in power. Consequently, a deal with the DUP could be the undoing of May and her party.
Having said this, she simply cannot afford to Govern without them. Without a majority, she won’t be able to do much of what she promised, which will annoy her party even more than they already are. If she fails in her legislative agenda due to not having a majority, she goes, and then we’re left with Boris as PM. Even so, without a majority, it wouldn’t matter who led the Conservatives, they can’t hold onto power without support, bottom line.
Essentially what I’m saying is that with or without the DUP, Theresa May and the Conservatives are in an unwinnable situation, they cannot govern either way. Let’s be honest, who else will go into coalition with them? The fragile nature of this Parliament means it is unlikely to last 5 years. With Brexit negotiations fast approaching that bodes ill for the nation. If the Conservatives truly care about making this a better Britain, the only right and sensible options they posses are to call yet another election now, or to step aside, and let the other side have a go for now, and work together on Brexit, calling another election after negotiations conclude. We simply cannot go on like this.
Even if the Tories cling stubbornly to power, May is finished as their leader. She gambled thinking she would win a landslide, and lost her majority in the end. It is as if your mother gave you a row for not paying attention then proceeded to walk into a lamppost; there’s a delicious note of schadenfreude about it.
On a final and positive note, Labour have surged in England and Wales, a Survation Poll taken on the 10th of June putting Labour 6 points ahead of the Tories on 45 points, while SNP support remains steady in Scotland, if somewhat deflated from the high of 2015. Theoretically, if there were another election soon, a progressive coalition is not beyond reach. I for one am deprived of hope in our present political circumstance, and maybe, just maybe, a progressive coalition is exactly what we all need right now, to give all us a little hope.
I hope that you have managed to reset your sleeping pattern and recover after Thursday, you might be needing the energy again soon!