The provisional results of the general election certainly make for a joyful awakening or they would have done if I had slept last night! They have confounded the pollsters who managed to get it consistently wrong until 2:00 am this morning. They have also confounded the BBC who, I thought, had an increasing leaning towards Miliband as the election neared. I say nothing about Channel 4 News because you expect Jon Snow to exhibit his left wing credentials at every opportunity.
As the day progresses, it seems we are going to lose one, two or even three party leaders!
Clegg has hinted at it during his election result and it seems inevitable that he will pay the price of doing the right thing for the country after the 2010 election. He leads a decimated Liberal Party that has lost most of its big beasts – Vince Cable, Simon Hughes, Danny Alexander, David Laws and Steve Webb to mention only a few! How many Liberals will end up in the Commons is not entirely clear but it seems likely they would likely fit into two taxis.
Farage is in trouble in Thanet East, having declared that he will quit as UKIP leader if he does not take the parliamentary seat. Counting goes on as I write but it does not sound good for Farage. If he does lose and he quits as UKIP leader, that sounds like the end of UKIP because Farage is UKIP and I see no sign of anyone else in his motley collection of followers who could replace his cheeky style with a fag in the mouth and a beer in his hand.
Miliband is already facing calls from his own party to go and I am not surprised. He has lost wholesale in Scotland, including the Scottish Labour Party leader and Douglas Alexander, the shadow Foreign Secretary. It sounds as if his Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, may also be out! Miliband has totally failed to win in England and it is clear that his agenda of high spending, high taxes and high borrowing while punishing enterprise and hard work and promoting a dependency culture again has not found favour in England. You would think that Labour should have learned how to win elections from Blair’s time in power but they continue to hate just about everything he stood for with the same intensity that they hate Thatcherism. I will watch with great interest the bloodbath in the Labour Party as it unfolds.
The Scottish position is fascinating. Are the Scots really as left wing as you would believe from the Sturgeon agenda? Pro-high taxes, high spending and high borrowing? Or are the canny Scots expecting the unsuspecting English to provide the high taxes and to guarantee the high borrowing to enable the Scots to continue their high spending in their own country? Nicola Sturgeon is not going to have little Ed in her top pocket and will struggle to impose her socialism on a United Kingdom that has comprehensively rejected it except in her own part of it. I hope we can put her back in her box and rationalise what Scotland gets out of the Union against what it puts into it. We should never have gold-plated the Barnett formula but that is history. That leaves us with devolving tax-raising powers to Scotland but ensuring England does not end up paying for it. We need English votes for English laws as soon as possible and I hope that can include devolution to local government in England. That reform may involve the rationalisation of local government with fewer, strategic, single-tier councils and I think that would be a price worth paying.
So, well done, DC! You did it. It seems you will probably have a wafer thin majority but, nevertheless, a majority and, hopefully, your team of MPs will be sensible enough to support the whip through the parliament. You have a race to sort out the mess that is a federal Europe and to secure the necessary reforms that will return power to sovereign member states. You have a pressing race to sort out our constitution and to secure English votes for English laws – Boris has got it right here. You have to balance a socialist-leaning Scotland and Wales with an England that has a much more rational approach to wealth creation and enterprise and you need to continue to wind down the dependent client state and to grow a nation that has ambition and supports enterprise. Quite a challenge!