The election result is a triumph for Labour. Although the party has fallen marginally short of enough seats to form a government, Jeremy Corbyn has pulled off the biggest swing from one major party to another during the span of an election campaign since 1945. The polls were predicting a Labour share of the vote of 26% or 27% but ended up on the night at 40%—which is 12.8 million votes. This is more than Tony Blair got in 2001 or in 2005.
With 649 seats declared, the Conservatives have 318 seats, down 13, Labour 261, up 29, 35 seats for the SNP, down 21, the Lib Dems up 4 to 12, Plaid Cymru remain on three, the Greens on one and UKIP wiped out. Kensington and Chelsea is yet to declare. One recount has already taken place and the count has been suspended until 6pm tonight.
The turnout is up by 2% to the highest since 1997. The turnout amongst young people was unprecedented in modern times. The UKIP vote collapsed. Nuttall, who has resigned, came a distant third in Boston and Skegness.
Labour made significant gains in both Scotland and Wales. The SNP remain the largest party in Scotland but the Conservatives have won 12 seats off them so far, Labour have won seven and the Lib Dems three. In Wales Labour took back Gower, Cardiff North, and Vale of Clwyd from the Conservatives.
Jeremy Corbyn and John MacDonnell are right to say that they are ready to form a minority government but it is clear that May will attempt to do so. The result, therefore, is not just a hung parliament, but the slimmest and most precarious of hung parliaments with effectively a coalition between a crisis ridden Tory Party and the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party – one of the most socially conservative political parties in Europe.
Its members deny climate change, oppose abortion and marriage equality and are mostly Biblical creationists. Its candidates were endorsed by the Ulster Defence Association, a sectarian murder gang which is now involved in racketeering and drug dealing. This lash up gives the Tories a majority of two. Even if this gets off the ground it is likely to extremely unstable and we should prepare for another election before the end of the year.
Labour’s election campaign was spectacular and had a huge impact. The outcome is a personal triumph for Jeremy Corbyn, who was vilified in the most brutal way from the start of the campaign until the end. The Tories weren’t even able to use the two horrendous terror attacks to their advantage.
The manifesto changed the politics of the election campaign the moment it hit the streets. It mobilised hundreds of thousands of young people to register to vote, join the campaign and vote in, what for many, the first election in which they had participated. Young people who have been abused and used by successive government have struck back with a vengeance.
We are seeing tectonic shifts taking place at several levels in British politics. Labour’s anti-austerity election platform has appealed to many of the same marginalised people who were drawn towards a Brexit vote. The vote is a massive rejection of austerity—bringing about a fundamental change in British politics. There is a new generation on the scene for the first time, completely open to the kind of radical alternative Labour is putting forward. For example, it was the student vote which took Canterbury for Labour which has been Tory for ever.
Corbyn is now in a powerful position inside the party. The Labour right who have campaigned for two years to discredit and get rid of him have been politically defeated and have some decisions to make. Every one of the predictions they made about Corbynism have been proven wrong. It is time now to back Corbyn or stand aside.
In this situation the job of the radical left is clear. Join the Corbyn movement if you have not done so yet, help him to change and democratise the Labour Party. Deepen the political trajectory that he has initiated, and stand ready to fight the next election as and when it comes.