Kevin Barron is once again our MP, and is the longest serving MP the Rother Valley has ever had.
His share of the vote fell by 10.6%, with an 8% swing from Labour to Conservative, significantly more than the national swing of 5%, but this still leaving him with a majority of 5,866 – much less than last time, but then the constituency is slightly different, so it’s hard to be certain of the figures.
It’d be fascinating to know what Kevin Barron’s views on what he thinks will happen now are, but alas I suspect all MPs – no matter how much they ‘have a mind of their own and do not always agree with their party’ are under strict instructions to keep quiet until the dust settles.
My prediction is some sort of uncomfortable Lib-Con alliance that will not have the full support of a lot of members of either party will emerge, and which the Labour party will claim is illegitimate as it give the Lib Dems more power than them, much as they cared about the possibility of the electoral system throwing up such an anomaly when they were hedging their bets by cosying up to the Lib Dems in 1997 before they had won their landslide.
I suspect too that the turmoil in the Euro zone and the uncertainty over the strength of our government will lead to a little wobble in the (fragile) recovery, which may then become a major fall if it causes confidence to evaporate. Under such pressure an already fragile alliance will begin to splinter, and we’ll have another election in 12 months – only this time the Labour prediction of a double-dip may well have proven correct through no fault of the incoming government, but that government will have already begun to make the painful cuts that everyone agrees are necessary to correct for 13 years of Labour profligacy.
In a year, Labour will have a new leader (Alistair Darling please) so will be free of the burden of carrying Gordon’s baggage, and will have the tremendous benefit of being (luckily) correct about there being a double dip, which they can pin on the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, and they will be free of blame for the painful cuts the Con-Lib coalition will have made, even though those cuts were necessary because of their mismanagement of the economy. So, much to my surprise, I can see a tiny Labour majority in 2011.
Of course the Con-Lib’s will know all this too, so perhaps they will be able to keep it together long enough to avoid this happening. It’s going to be a hell of a show though. EDIT – Nick Robinson makes the excellent point that as well as the Tories wanting to avoid another election any time soon (he adds to my reasoning that they will be unpopular in the short term the Tory shock at Labour’s resilience) the Lib Dems can’t really afford to mount another campaign soon, so they too will want the alliance, if one emerges, to last.