• Development Intelligence

#GE2019 – What actually happened?

Garry Knight - CC BY 2.0

So, a combination of utter Brexit fatigue and a national dislike of Jeremy Corbyn’s Marxism won the day. It really is as simple as that. The parties will try to spin it: Jezza wasn’t really a factor, it was Boris what won it, blah blah. The result has emboldened Boris and killed Corbyn, as well as Swinson and Farage. The media overnight has been a little excitable; it is a big result but it’s nowhere near landslide territory, albeit it is every bit as momentous as Blair’s first win in 1997 or Thatcher’s first win in 1979. Brexit will “get done”, to use Boris’ campaigning jargon.

And the property industry will breathe a huge, collective sigh of relief. Sterling has climbed. The FTSE has jumped up. Dust down all those mothballed potential development schemes, chaps. 2020 could be busy.

As we’ve been saying to clients in the closing days of the campaign, if there was going to be a surprise, then it would be that the Tories could win bigger than the polls suggested. And so it was.

The Tories broke through Labour’s ‘red wall’ with some ease. But how Boris will behave in Government with a handsome majority is a big question. In reality the ‘hard Right Thatcherite Boris’ is a fantasy of Labour Party press releases. He’s about as Lefty as you can be as a Tory Leader, well Left of Cameron. But comfortable majorities do funny things to PMs. Either way, Labour would need to defy all historic precedent to win the next General Election from so far behind, so Boris perhaps has the next decade to reshape British politics.

In truth, armchair Marxism has always been a sport for the affluent metropolitan elite. The working men and women of Workington, Blyth Valley and Bolsover never really bought into the ‘ooooh Jeremy Corbyn’ vibe. Whilst a shocker of a result for the Labour Left, they will claim that it was all about Brexit when it was of course every bit as much about Corbyn. They will think that by ‘fixing’ the forthcoming leadership election to install a younger possibly female salesperson, Corbynism will triumph next time. They will likely get that wrong.

For the Lib Dems, which we should recall were at a high point of 20% only in September, crashing down to 11% by polling day has been calamitous. From wild talk about winning “hundreds of seats”, they have in fact gone backwards in this election, losing one seat from the 2017 tally and all of their new defectors.

Whilst the SNP won seats – and they will inevitably create endless drama on IndyRef 2 going forwards – it wasn’t as big a win as they were expecting at the start of the campaign.

We have seen all manner of nonsense in this election campaign: that turnout would be dramatically down due to a winter election. That tactical voting would be key when in fact it was a total flop. That Boris was being effectively targeted and might struggle to win his seat. That Labour’s domination of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat would be a key factor. All rubbish.

A sobering final thought: many of our Millennial staff will be dismayed. If you are under 30, you’ve never really experienced a majority Government. You’ve only known endless talk of ‘austerity’. And you think it’s normal for the Lib Dems to be a party of government. As David Cameron once said: “Britain is not Twitter”. Perhaps this is UK politics returning to some sort of normality. Could politics be boring again?

We have been asked by several clients to give presentations in the New Year on the ‘post General Election political landscape’. If you feel this could be useful for your team, please get in touch.