THE 2017 GENERAL ELECTION – LEFT US HANGING

by The Norwich Radical

The following piece was created, compiled and co-written by a number of Norwich Radical contributors, across a number of locations, devices, and even countries. We followed the exit polls, the first counts, the calculations and predictions as they became available across the media. We do not have any inside information, but have combined our experience and information during the night to produce this article in time for the morning readers.

There is no final result confirmed at the time of publication, but it has been confirmed that we have a hung parliament, as it is mathematically impossible for any party to claim an overall majority.

The count begins.

( Co-editor Cadi Cliff starting her role as count assistant in Wales )

At 10 pm, the first exit poll is released by BBC, ITV, Sky. Conducted by Ipsos Mori and GfK, this has been incorrect in the past, with results in 2015 proving wildly underestimated for the Conservatives. The results, shown below, suggested a Hung Parliament.

According to news about financial and currency markets, at 10.30 pm the sterling has fallen 2%, while the pound is down 1.2% against the Euro. This is not an indication of who the financial world favours, of course, but rather the mistrust of unstable governments in the country, though less significant than the similar reaction to the Brexit vote in June 2016.

What is amusing – at least from a wishful thinking hypothetical perspective – is that if the exit poll is correct, a minority government of Labour-LibDems-SNP could be possible, even with the addition of Greens and Plaid Cymru – if it weren’t for the complete refusal of several of the parties to actually collaborate. The 2017 Labour manifesto does indeed borrow from the Greens in 2015, and heavily at that, but all talks of coalitions and alliances have been shut down repeatedly during the election campaign.

The first constituency to be declared, at 11 pm, is Newcastle: Labour’s Chi Onwurah has been re-elected. In Houghton & Sunderland South, Labour’s Bridget Phillipson is also confirmed. Given the swing against Labour in these two seats, the exit polls gain even less credibility at this stage of the count, according to various MPs across the countries. By midnight, the pound is also starting to crawl back up, and Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams confirms they will not support a Labour government.

1 am brings the first Welsh result, with Labour confirming Llanelli – Nia Griffiths took 53.45% of the vote – 12.16% up from her win in the 2015 General Election.  First Scottish result is a Labour gain over SNP: Rutherglen & Hamilton West, while Mhairi Black (SNP) is confirmed for Paisley & Renfrewshire South despite losing more than Conservatives gain. Perhaps biggest results so far are Tooting, as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s former seat surges by 12.4%, Vale of Clwyd with 11.9%, Battersea with 9.1%.

Closer to our hearts in Norwich, we have confirmation by 3am that Chloe Smith has kept Norwich North but with an extraordinarily slim majority – 500, down from 4500 in 2015. With the Green vote at 782, and the Pirate vote at 340, questions will be asked about whether progressive candidates could have worked together better here.  Meanwhile, Clive Lewis holds comfortably in Norwich South, with gains of around 12,000 votes.

The first big personality to lose a seat on the night was Angus Robertson, the SNP’s leader in Westminster. Former party leader Alex Salmond was another of the 20-odd SNP seats to fall to blue, red and orangey-yellow. In between those two big Scottish losses, many students and graduates were gratified to see Nick Clegg lose his seat in Sheffield. A couple of Tory ministers followed him, notably Gavin Barwell (Housing) and Simon Kirby (Economic Secretary to the Treasury). Many had their fingers crossed that Home Secretary Amber Rudd would lose out in Hastings and Rye as well, especially after multiple recounts, but in the end she held on with a majority of just 346.

The leaders of the big two parties commanded extremely high vote shares in their constituencies as expected, but for others in their position things weren’t so pleasant. Tim Farron kept his seat in Westmoreland and Lonsdale by less than 900 votes, while Paul Nuttall saw his party’s vote share drop by over 26% where he was standing in Boston and Skegness.

As the night wears on the standout stories are all impressive Labour gains. Canterbury has been a Tory seat since 1918; no longer. In Portsmouth South, Labour came from third place in 2015, gaining over 10,000 votes to win. Derby North was one of closest loss for Labour in 2015, with just 41 votes in it. It was a key target for them this time round, and the 2000-odd majority they secured will feel relatively comfortable. Gower, in Wales, was the most marginal loss for Labour in 2015, losing to the Conservatives by 27 votes. This time round, a majority of 3000 votes for Labour.

As it turns out, by 6am the exit polls look very nearly right, and we do indeed have a hung parliament. The most notable trends at the time of publishing are that the UKIP vote has dropped right down past its 2010 level, and that those voters seem to have split fairly evenly between Labour and the Tories; that the SNP have lost many seats to the primary-coloured parties, ostensibly because Scottish voters have taken the opportunity to reject the possibility of a second independence referendum; that progressive alliances may have played a significant role, as campaigners suggest that alliance arrangements won tens of seats for progressive candidates including Bury North, Brighton Kemptown, Cardiff North, and very nearly Hastings and Rye. The story of the night: the Labour vote has exceeded the predictions of every single poll, gaining at least 30 seats.

Where this will all lead, few can tell, but things are looking far better than most of us on the left could have hoped.

Featured image by Sara Harrington


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