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[personal profile] venta
I'm going to claim that I called the election on day 1. Last year, David Cameron called a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU. He pretty much called it to prove that, see, the UK totally wants to stay in the EU. It didn't end well for him.

When Theresa May called a snap general election to demonstrate what a very strong mandate she had for her Brexit plans, see, I said: we've been here before. This is not going to end well for her. I wasn't expecting a change in government, but I was expecting the Tories would lose seats and we'd potentially end up with a hung parliament. It's a bit of a mystery to me why everyone seemed surprised by that.

I had assumed that this election as going to be All About Brexit. And since the country was basically split 50/50 on the issue, it seemed almost poetic that we should have a hung parliament to represent that. Except, of course, Brexit was mentioned remarkably little and the two main parties aren't representative of the two sides of the question. Only the Lib Dems are really left being significantly Remain, and with UK politics looking more like a two horse race than it has in decades, the Lib Dems are still basically nowhere.

A colleague yesterday was claiming that the only reason people swung to Labour was because Corbyn claimed the existence of a magical money tree that would fund all his policies, and a lot of people are so stupid they will believe in a magical money tree if someone promises it exists. Our electoral system is such a blunt instrument that I think it's impossible to say that there is one reason people voted this or that way.

Obviously, some people (through tradition, ideology, or habit) will always vote Labour. Some people undoubtedly did like Corbyn's promises to spend more on social care, the police and childcare, and to scrap tuition fees. Some people just wanted the Tories out. Some people probably thought Corbyn would be a terrible choice for prime minister, but wanted to indicate to May that they didn't like the way things were going. Some people wanted a Lib Dem government, but knew they weren't getting one. Some people cared more about their local representative than about the national picture. And for all of the above, you'd get to put one cross in a box. Honestly, it's almost like we should have voted for AV in 2011.

My constituency was described as "ultra-marginal". This is what it looked like in 2015:


Conservative: 21728 (42.7%)
Labour: 22002 (43.2%)
Lib Dem: 3106 (6.1%)
Green: 1841 (3.6%)
UKIP: 1926 (3.8%)
Independent: 125 (0.2%)
Others: 166 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 274 (0.5%)

Unlike most of the country, it swung from Conservative to Labour. Rupa Huq, who won the seat, is someone I have a lot of time for. She's someone who was born in, and lives in, the local area. Her kid goes to school here. Although she's clearly been involved in politics for a long time, she also had a proper job before she became an MP. She regularly shows up in Westminster, speaking and voting (admittedly this is easier for London MPs). If you contact her on an issue, you get back a relevant answer, promptly. In short, she's the sort of person I want representing me - regardless of whether I agree with her policies or not.

In this election, we had only three candidates. The Greens decided not to stand, saying "by and large, we quite like Rupa". UKIP appears to have realised its own irrelevance in a world where Brexit is already underway, and we had none of the scattering of also-rans that usually bulk out the ballot paper. Of all the things that made me cross about this election, one of the things that made me most cross was the bumf we had from the local Lib Dem candidate, Jon Ball.

His argument basically went: the Tories are bad, you do not want the Tories, Brexit is bad, you do not want Brexit, this is a very marginal seat where the Tories are very likely to get in. Therefore you should just vote for me.

Um, no. In an ultra-marginal seat, where the Lib Dems are basically nowhere, anyone whose principle concern is keeping the Tories out should really be voting for the (fiercely anti-Brexit) Labour candidate. All Jon Ball was achieving (apart from causing me to break into song every time I saw his name) was potentially splitting the Labour vote and making it more likely the Tories would get in. I respect his right to stand, but his campaign was complete nonsense.

As it was, the constituency returned Rupa Huq by a nearly 14K majority. I'll be interested to read any local analysis of why. The London trend this time was towards Labour, so possibly just part of that. She is, as I said, a good person to have representing you (unlike her Tory predecessor who had a bizarre obsession with dangerous dogs, and didn't seem to act on much else). She is very anti-Brexit in a constituency that voted 60/40 to Remain.

To me the good news was that she was returned with a nearly 75% turnout. I don't mind which way people vote, so long as they get out and vote. Even the colleague who said he'd been so unimpressed with all his options he'd just drawn a cock on his ballot paper.

And on the plus side, at least we can have an election in 7 weeks. America, take note ;)
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