So what the hell happened at the General Election?


The bird is still flying with a 50% increase in MPs compared to just 2 years ago. Another 436 votes in 4 constituencies would have given us 4 more MPs

Ok I was wrong. I didn’t see at the start of the campaign how Labour wouldn’t be net losers of seats. I don’t feel bad about this error as it was shared by most commentators and politicians including most politicians in the Labour Party. I still don’t know how much of the result was pro-Labour as distinct to anti-Tory so let’s examine each of the Parties in turn:

The Tory Party were clearly the big losers in the election campaign. For the first time that I can ever remember in 50+years their campaign was an utter disaster. To begin with it was an unnecessary election. May had a working majority and the size of her majority cuts no weight with our EU members. But it went from bad to worse. Three things particularly struck me during the campaign:

  1. That the Tories had an uncosted manifesto. Can you imagine what they would have said if the Labour or Lib Dem Parties had done so. In fact they claimed at one stage that it was not an uncosted manifesto but a manifesto that had not yet been costed! This led to the next two errors:
  2. Their ill-thought replacement for free school meals for infants children which when dissected meant that breakfasts would have to cost no more than 7p per breakfast including staff costs to meet the £60million available
  3. The dementia tax which had to be withdrawn during the campaign because some smart-alecs in CCHQ had no idea how the system worked and what the costs and effects would be.

The Greens were also big losers. In all but 2 or 3 seats their vote is derisory. In Liverpool they lost all 5 deposits after losing £5,000 in the Mayoral election just 5 weeks ago. They have been shown to be of little value within the political system with almost all their valid green policies already being pursued by Lib Dems and Labour

UKIP have almost disappeared. With few seats fought and nowhere in contention even in areas where last time they were getting 20% of the vote they are now totally irrelevant. I suspect though that Nuttall is even now recrafting his CV to prove that he was elected Prime Minister yesterday. I can only wonder if the BBC will continue to give this semi-fascist rump the oxygen of air time that they have not deserved since 2015.

Labour were clearly the big winners. They fought a good campaign although many of their programmes were uncosted and undeliverable. Corbyn discovered at the last minute a gravitas that has eluded him for 40+ years in the Commons. Many of their other leaders, notably Diane Abbott, were poor and often their approach was muddled. However their policies had resonance with people who are seeking way out in difficult times. In that way, and that way alone, they have a similarity with the Trump surge in the USA. Undeliverable hope which people cling to but in Corbyn’s case will not be tested.

The SNP had a score draw in my opinion. Yes they lost 21 seats overall including their deputy and former leaders. But if you had said in 2014 that they would have the majority of Scottish MPs everyone, including the SNP, would have laughed at you. They have been shown that independence is not the only issue which Scottish people are interested in and that governing is a difficult business.

The Lib Dems also fought their way to a score draw position. Our national share of the vote went down but our number of MPs went up. From a 2015 low of 8 we returned 12 MPs including heavy hitters such as Ed Davey on green issues, Vince Cable on Economic and business issues and Jo Swinson on women’s and science issues. And it’s a diverse team as well. In 2015 just 8 men were elected. This time its 8 men and 4 women. Still not gender equality but a very credible base for a way forward. Tim Farron performed well and with passion and is now much better known than prior to the election.

Outside the main political movements there were three seats that I personally think are worthy of mention.

Sheffield Hallam where Nick Clegg lost his seat. Nick is a good man with a tremendous intellect and a huge grasp of the issue which will dominate UK politics for the next 2 years – BREXIT. His is a loss not just for the Lib Dems but for Parliament as a whole as it attempts to grapple with this huge issue.

Shipley where the loathsome Phil Davies lost his seat to Labour. He comes from a bad family his father was English Defence League Mayor of Doncaster. He is a loathsome misogynist and parliament is well rid of his loathsome filibustering to stop reasonable progressive Bills becoming Acts of Parliament.

North Norfolk where the marvellous Norman Lamb retained his seat. I have never met an MP who is so respected across the political divide as Norman. His reputation as a good man, a good politician and a fervent believer in a good NHS stood him in good stead yesterday as people of all political persuasions joined together to keep him fighting for them.

So what next? On a personal level I am off for two days on a surprise holiday for Erica. I want to spend loads of time with her after 10 hard weeks campaigning. I just hope she wants to spend loads of time with me!

Politically every Party needs to ponder and think about themselves and the future. We have clearly seen a lurch to left and right in this election and I still fervently believe that politics needs to regroup around a progressive centre where good economics is balanced with good social policy.

I will be meeting colleagues both locally and nationally over the next few weeks to discuss ways forward at all levels for our Party and my role in it.

In the meantime thanks to all that supported our Party and all that voted for. Today is just the start of the next campaign!

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
This entry was posted in General Election 2017 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s