The official story of the election is that it was a sensational and unpredictable result. So it feels well overdue to examine how much actually changed. Labour’s vote increased by 1.5%, twice the increase in the size of the Conservative vote (+0.8%). Leaving aside the momentous changes in Scotland, the real story of the night was the destruction of the third party, the Liberal Democrats. Their disillusioned supporters from 2010, who had assumed they were a party of the left, were unsurprisingly more likely to support Labour this time. A larger number moved to the Green Party, explaining the 2.8% increase in our vote share.
So given these numbers, why are we contemplating a majority Conservative government? The answer is that under our archaic voting system it is not how you vote that matters but where you vote. While the media diverted our attention to Crosbie’s unpleasant dog-whistle messaging, the real purpose of his campaign was to eliminate the Liberal Democrats and turn ‘their’ seats into a Tory majority. This strategy has been brilliantly successful in my region of the South West which is now completely blue outside the cities of Bristol and Exeter.
Looking ahead to five years of Tory rule, with the incredible suffering this will bring to some of our most vulnerable citizens, it is hard not to feel a series of uncomfortable emotions: anger, disappointment, despair even. But we should put emotion aside and take a clear and rational view of what has happened. Our democratic rights have been traduced by a ruling class who have distorted the political system to serve their interests. We must reject their false narrative and their attempts to divide and conquer. We, the people, must mobilise to change our outrageous electoral system for one that effectively represents our views rather than enabling the creation of undemocratic majorities.