Having predicted a Tory majority of 50 the last time I wrote for this august organ, I approach the future with some diffidence. I will not be alone.
The pollsters, other than John Curtice’s frighteningly accurate exit poll, all got it horribly wrong - again.
I also got several things wrong. I didn’t see the sudden increase in students voting. They surely couldn’t believe that Jeremy Corbyn would write their student debt off at a stroke. His ‘magic money tree’ politics were absurd. I also hadn’t realised that most people under 30 know nothing of the IRA and the Northern Ireland Troubles other than what they learn in history.
To them, Jeremy Corbyn - friend of the IRA, Hamas, Hezbollah, Castro and Chavez - reminded them of their geography teacher; a nice, smiley old gent who just wanted the world to be a nicer place. I couldn’t believe that anyone with half a brain would take his Marxist-Leninist view of the world seriously.
Socialism has never worked anywhere, ever, and where it has surfaced has invariably led to vicious dictatorship and the deaths of countless millions.
Free markets in a free society have their drawbacks but are surely preferable if we still believe in democracy. Speaking of which, Mr Corbyn and his party yet again lost in an open and democratic election, not that you would know it looking at some of the media coverage.
My biggest mistake, however, was not to appreciate what an awful campaign the Conservatives would run.
Theresa May’s decision to call the election (which I supported), to allow a suicidal manifesto to be published and then to backtrack on it proved disastrous for her personally. In a day she went from strong and stable to weak and wobbly and never recovered.
Her unwillingness to open herself up to public scrutiny didn’t help. George Osborne may need to wipe that silly grin off his face but his description of her as a dead woman walking hit the mark. So the 50-seat majority disappeared and she ended with fewer seats than she started with and no majority at all.
She has remained in office but shorn of the two advisers who were principally responsible for the election debacle, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, and now much more a creature of her ministers than any prime minister I can recall.
So what of the future? I confidently predict there won’t be another election for a very long time
The tragic disaster at Grenfell Tower has only added to her woes, although it is now clear that many Labour councils also have similarly flammable cladded buildings in their housing stock. And to cap it all, the Brexit negotiations are seriously under way.
So what of the future? I confidently predict there won’t be another election for a very long time. Mrs May reached a confidence and supply agreement with Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for one overriding reason: the arrival of an IRA-supporting prime minister in Downing Street in the person of Jeremy Corbyn is quite simply the DUP’s worst nightmare. And no Tory MP wants another election any time soon.
Hype and hysteria
I was a minister in John Major’s government, which had no majority for much of its last three years, but we managed. Talking to colleagues, I sense that Mrs May is safe for now at least, barring another unforeseen crisis. She will survive because there is no obvious successor and because Tory MPs don’t relish a leadership election.
In short, after all the hype and hysteria it will be business as usual. Actually this is welcome because, as the Queen’s speech showed, this government won’t be able or willing to do much. And 30 years in active politics has taught me that governments that don’t do much are far and away the best kind.
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