Marge Simpson has lost her head. Much of that great yellow bouffant atop the British electoral map has been dyed blue, after a startling performance by Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives. In England, however, the map is misleadingly coloured: again blue prevails more in area than in votes. The deep red wounds on the empress’s cloak are the urban hotspots of the young, immigrants and Remainers, who turned out for Jeremy Corbyn in droves. The Welsh played a major part in Brexit, but they have reverted to Labour, aided by a charismatic leader in Cardiff.
With the arithmetical talents displayed throughout the Labour campaign, Corbyn tells us he won the election. Yet Great Britain remains predominantly Tory. Like the flyover states in the USA, where one could drive for thousands of miles in unbroken Republican red, the landscape shows a continuous blue around the metropolitan and university constituencies. Provincial towns and rural shires have supported the line taken by the Government. Overall, the Conservative vote share is up – for the fifth consecutive election.
But there is another part of the UK, often neglected, which has been elevated to centre stage. Mainstream British parties don’t stand in Northern Ireland, but to cling to power the Conservatives will rely on the Democratic Unionist Party, with ten seats.
Now, it’s hard to feel optimism from anyone who wants Brexit and saw Theresa May as the leader with resolve to take us out of the EU. But the election has forced a reorientation of the Westminster outlook. The SNP has been weakened, its Holyrood-passed demand for a second independence referendum trashed. Scottish and Northern Irish MPs will surely be appointed to ministerial positions. And this reBritishing of Westminster, despite the bad night for Conservatives and Brexit, is heartening. Labour gains from the SNP are also positive for those who identify as both Scottish and British.
These are merely first thoughts. The situation could descend into chaos. The subversive Corbyn cult will hold mass demonstrations, making lots of noise. But most people will have no desire for yet another election. This new Government, from all corners of the UK, must make coalition work.
(Image: Christine McIntosh)