Well, that wasn’t meant to happen, apparently.
I had intended to write about the general election results, particularly about attempting to sit through the overnight coverage. For those non-football fans, with no cup finals or play-offs to pore over, the general election is my equivalent of the World Cup Final, or the Super Bowl, and the results programmes have developed to match that – the exit poll, battles in key marginals, the swingometer, and so on. Grace Wyndham Goldie, the BBC producer that created the first TV election results programme, in 1950, really was on to something, even if she had to fight engineers that said that broadcasting beyond midnight could damage the BBC’s electrical equipment.
So, um, yeah, my original idea was going to be something a bit light-hearted, talking about how we have a major TV event built around our democracy, mixed in with detail on how I tried to stay awake to watch it all… then the result of the exit poll came in, claiming a hung parliament, with the Conservatives as the largest party, but falling short of a majority of seats. Because the poll was wrong in 2015, predicting another hung parliament instead of a small Tory majority, the immediate reaction was to say that all options are still open, because it contradicted everything said in the campaign up to now.
From the moment the election was called by Theresa May, the belief was the Conservative Party would have an increased majority in the House of Commons – because the Labour Party, under Jeremy Corbyn, was always seen as divided between its party’s supporters and the leader’s supporters, the Conservatives may even cause a landslide. Many right-wing-leaning newspapers called the election a Tory win, which was to be expected, but because that included the “Daily Mail” and “The Sun,” this dictated the direction, and the noise, of the narrative.
The reason for calling the election has now also been called into question. Despite fixed-term parliaments having been introduced in 2010, it is the Prime Minister’s prerogative to call a general election whenever they like, but they should only do that if they are definitely sure they are going to win. The resulting vote in the Commons to have an election now could have resulted in an election not happening, but everyone else was sure they should have an election now, because they all had their own reasons – calling an election over Brexit alone, as Theresa May had done, was never a realistic possibility.
So, now what? Which party can form a government? What solidity of Brexit – hard or soft – will we get now? Could Jeremy Corbyn be the next Prime Minister? Could Boris Johnson be the next Prime Minister? Well, what we do know is this – turnout among 18-24 year-olds could be as high as 72%, up from 43% in 2015, and 38% in 2005, so whoever does wind up in government really will have to govern for everyone.