Friday, 23 June 2017

My analysis of local by-elections from 22 June 2017

Welcome to the first week of post-2017 general election in terms of local by-elections. The results for this week's were as follows:

East Cambridgeshire DC, Soham North: Conservative 423 (59.7%, -4.2%), Liberal Democrats 178 (25.1%, +4.1%), Labour 108 (15.2%, +0.1%). Conservative hold.

Powys UA, Yscir: Conservative 165 (29.8%), Independent Chris Davies 144 (26.0%), Plaid Cymru 101 (18.2%), Green 80 (14.4%), Independent Daniel Evans 62 (11.2%), Independent Steve Evans 2 (0.4%). Conservative win (Yscir had no nominations in 2017 which is why this by-election was held).

Sheffield MBC, Nether Edge & Sharrow: Labour 2641 (45.0%, +6.5%), Green 2509 (42.7%, +8.6%), Liberal Democrats 722 (12.3%, -2.3%). Labour hold; the Conservative candidate failed to hand in their nomination papers on time.

South Gloucestershire UA, Winterbourne: Conservative 873 (47.9%, +0.5%), Labour 615 (33.8%, +17.7%), Liberal Democrats 333 (18.3%, -0.1%). Conservative hold.

Stockton-On-Tees UA, Yarm: Conservative 1179 (50.8%, +3.7%), Independent 677 (29.1%), Labour 394 (17.0%, -3.7%), Liberal Democrats 73 (3.1%). Conservative hold.

These by-elections did not by any means follow the pattern shown at the 2017 general election a fortnight ago, partly due to limited media coverage and the sense of 'Corbyn vs. May' fading away. This allowed the Greens to reduce the Labour majority to 132 in the by-election in Nether Edge and Sharrow, where they already hold one of the seats. Nether Edge and Sharrow's natural Green vote is much stronger than similar wards elsewhere, meaning that the Greens remained competitive when they had lost so much support in cities such as Oxford and Norwich.

Had Yscir been part of a multi-member ward elected by STV (which would be the case if it was in Scotland and not Wales), it would certainly have received at least one nomination for 4 May 2017; its small size was a contributing factor given that most Welsh wards have to be much smaller than English equivalents given the poorer road and rail connections in rural Wales. This also means many councillors have to travel considerable distances for evening meetings making council work difficult in rural Wales (and also in Scotland even with STV instead of FPTP). The arguments for proportional representation of some type, especially at a local level, are practical as well as political.

It was otherwise a slow week, which is testament to the low swings in these by-elections. The sharp Labour surge in Winterbourne is partly due to the absence of UKIP from the ballot paper.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

French legislative elections round 2: A bolt from the Macron

The second round of the French parliamentary election (see this post for analysis of round 1: https://greensocialistalan.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/french-legislative-elections-round-1-en.html  ) resulted in a wide victory for President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche movement, who in alliance with the Democratic Movement (France's equivalent of the Liberal Democrats) won a total of 350 circonscriptions (308 for En Marche, 42 for the MoDems) giving them a majority of 123. This can be described as a bolt from the Macron since En Marche did not exist in 2012, the last time France had elections, and the MoDems were only a small party.

Meanwhile, the dominant social-democratic party, Parti Socialiste, was not wiped out as some were expecting, but they and their allies came a poor third with 45 seats nonetheless, compared to the 331 they won in 2012. They retained relatively few seats in mainland France (their overseas deputies were luckier). It is worth noting that only a minority of PS candidates made it through to the second round, giving them limited opportunities to mitigate their losses from round 1. This is shown by the fact their second round vote share was not much lower than their first round vote share.

The tide of Macronism swept away even Les Republicanes, since Macron's promise of economic reforms (although not on the scale Francois Fillon wanted) were able to win so many moderate conservatives over, whether LR candidates had made it through or not. LR and its allies lost 40% of their deputies, the same proportion it had lost after the fall of Nicolas Sarkozy, but this time they were in opposition against PS in their worst years in history, exacerbating their heavy losses. One of their most notable high-profile losses was that of Nathalie Kosciuzko-Moriet, aka NKM.

France Insoumisse, the banner under which the hardline socialist Front Gauche (FG), managed to make important gains, including the election of Jean-Luc Melenchon himself after failing to win a parliamentary seat in 2012 and finishing fourth in the recent Presidential election, but their seat total of 17 is one behind their 2007 result of 18, which was acquired at a time of PS trouble but in 2007 the PS did not suffer the losses it has this year. Part of the reason FI did not live up to expectations was that the older and more established French Communist Party (PCF) made no alliance with FG unlike in 2012 (and in fact some of their candidates included FG dissidents), although some of their candidates were not opposed by FG. PCF is likely to ally with FI in the new parliament in practice, however, given the protests that have already occurred over Macron's proposed socio-economic reforms.

Despite Marine Le Pen's strong performance as Presidential candidate by Front National standards, Front National only won 8 deputies in the Assembly as moderate voters scrabbled to stop them building a significant long-term base. However, they still came through in a few northern circonscriptions, if narrowly in most cases; nevertheless this represents yet another significant defeat for nationalist populism in Europe, which is likely to be repeated later this year in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. It is sadly the French Green movements who lost out most in this election amongst smaller parties; only one EELV deputy, Eric Alauzet, was re-elected and several independent ecologists switched to Macron's side, even though M. Macron's reforms will likely be environmentally detrimental. Their 4.3% vote share is also the worst since 2002. Had the EELV not allied with PS or withdrawn in favour of PS in the Presidential election, it would have had a much stronger chance of retaining a group in the Assembly. A lack of proportional representation in French elections also constricts them just as in the UK; a two-round system is almost as bad as first past the post when it comes to ensuring fair results, and also encourages greater enforcement of tactical voting-useful against FN, problematic otherwise. Regional parties of various types won 5 seats between them, although only on overseas territories of France and not on mainland France (sometimes called Metropolitan France). The only others successfully elected to this assembly were M'Jid El Guerrab (representing overseas French voters), Nicolas Dupont-Aignan of France Arise in Esonne's 8th circonscription, ex-FN politician and Mayor of Orange Jacques Bompard in Vaucluse's 4th circonscription, Jean Lassalle, the only Independent to run for President of France this year, in Pyrenees-Atlantiques' 4th circonscription, Christian Hutin of the Citizens and Republic Movement (MRC) in Nord 13, and Jimmy Pahun, an Independent, in Morbain's 2nd, and Sonia Krimi in Manche's 4th. (NB: 'miscellaneous right' and 'miscellaneous left' are not included in the latter total)

So what next, you ask? With such a secure majority, it is certain that Macron's reforms will come to pass, but what effect will they have? Whether Macron's movement can last is also an important point, since En Marche mainly gained prominence through M. Macron himself, like similar new centrist movements in Eastern Europe which are often led by prominent businesspeople without a particularly strong ideology.


Friday, 16 June 2017

Things that need to happen to stop a repeat of the Grenfell Tower fire

Earlier this week, the fire in Grenfell Tower, a housing block located within London's wealthiest borough, Kensington & Chelsea, resulted in the deaths of as many as 100 people at this time of writing, although media sources claim fewer deaths. This fire occurred because of neglect to the building by uncaring landlords, the use of flammable cladding (instead of fireproof cladding) which had been banned in several other countries after similar fires, a lack of sprinklers in the building, the fact that the fire escape was placed near the gas mains, and a lack of tenants' rights.

Grenfell Tower is located in one of the poorest areas of London, made starker by its location in the same borough containing mansions worth millions of pounds; the average house price in Kensington & Chelsea is in fact as high as £1,694,000, compared to only £220,000 in England as a whole; in other words, houses in Kensington & Chelsea cost nearly octople (eight times) as much as your average house. Rents in this area are also the second highest in England, only behind Westminster, and before the fire residents complained they were being pushed out of the borough, a process happening in social housing in many wealthy areas of London: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buV929MqlWc

Limited tenants' rights in the UK compared to those of landlords, a lack of rent controls, and a lack of social housing or replacement of social housing which was sold off in the 'Right to Buy' era, exacerbate these problems, as does a lack of effective council power to enforce fair planning laws or make sure new buildings constructed by developers are safe, in an age where developers are much more concerned about profits than more important things.

So what needs to be done to prevent another Grenfell Tower fire, you ask? Several UK councils are already promising to fit new and existing blocks of flats with sprinklers, and in fact just a month prior to this event many did so following the Lakanal House fire of 2011: http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/tenancies/council-gives-go-ahead-for-sprinklers-in-wake-of-lakanal/7002026.article 

However, fundamental fire safety laws regarding construction and maintenance of buildings, especially housing, need considerable reform, and so do tenants' rights. At a minimum here is what needs to be done:

1. Require all new buildings and housing to be fitted with sprinklers in case of accidental fires.
2. Ensure that fire escapes in houses or flats are not built near gas mains or anything potentially flammable.
3. The usage of cladding that is not verified to be fireproof must be banned.
4. A better balance needs to be introduced regarding planning so that developers are not able to just run roughshod over councils when building new housing.
5. Greater encouragement towards terraced housing as opposed to just blocks and blocks of high rise towers, which simply due to their physical design and height impose an inherent risk to residents in case of a fire
6. Improvement of tenants' rights in the UK and stricter limits on eviction; many tenants have been evicted simply for complaining about problems which are in fact the leaseholder's responsibility.



Monday, 12 June 2017

French legislative elections round 1: En Marche Est Triumphante

The weekend after our snap general election, France held the first round of its own legislative elections, although these were timed to happen now anyway. The two-round system applies to parliamentary elections in France just as it does to Presidential elections, although since there is no proportional element it is nearly as difficult for smaller parties to enter the legislature as it is in Britain, and the tactical voting element is often even stronger (especially against the extremist and racist Front National).

The dramatic rise of En Marche!, President Emmanuel Macron's centrist and reformist movement, and the collapse of the most dominant force on the French left, Parti Socialiste, are undoubtedly the key stories of the premier de tour de elections legislatives de France. En Marche has only elected two representatives so far in round one alone, but they lead in the vast majority of French circonscriptions (constituencies for the Assembly of the Republic) and are set to win a landslide majority in round two of the French legislative elections next week, despite having only achieved 28.21% in round one (tactical voting will see many of them through). The Parti Socialiste meanwhile has seen an extraordinary collapse, in wake of the ineptitude of previous President Francois Hollande and a pressing need for economic reforms in France. They finished fifth in the popular vote with 7.44% and their general secretary, Jean-Christpohe Cambadelis, was defeated in the 16th circonscription of Paris, and he even finished fourth behind En Marche, Les Republicanes and the French Green Party Europe Ecologie Les Verts. PS only led in 7 constituencies and in not many more will they qualify for the second round, meaning that losses of at least 300 seats are certain for PS. On EELV's side, their former leader, Cecile Duflot, finished third in Paris' 6th circonscription and was eliminated as a result, and in only one constituency, Doubs' 2nd ('Besancon East'), did they lead on the first round, although Eric Alauzet will likely have an easy win in round 2; very few other EELV candidates qualify for round two. The backlash against EELV happened because of their previous governmental collusion with PS, to the point where their Presidential candidate withdrew to support Benoit Hamon (who has also been defeated in these elections) and many moderate EELV voters (and in fact, middle of the road voters from all French walks of life to varying degrees) were turned on by En Marche, and lost by EELV anyway as a result of said association with PS.

Front National, meanwhile, despite the relatively strong performance of Marine Le Pen in the Presidential run-off against M. Macron (easily beating her father's performance against Jacques Chirac in 2002), could only finish third with 13.02%, and due to the heavy tactical voting practised against FN the number of FN deputies will not exceed single figures once the second round ends. The run of crucial defeats against the 'populist and racist right' is set to continue in Europe and this election is continuing the trend; none of the FN candidates who qualified for round 2 are certain to win next week, even in north-eastern France which contains their strongest base. Even though the hardline socialist La France Insoumisse (FI) movement only finished fourth, this will be enough for them to become a significant opponent to Macron's tenure in the legislature and Jean-Luc Melenchon will almost certainly be elected in Bouche de Rhone's 4th circonscription, which can be summarised as 'Marseille Central'. The Communists finished seventh but because of their bedrock support in certain communes, they will still be represented assuming PS voters turn against En Marche (and many will not); after all, M. Macron's reforms will prove to be highly controversial even if they achieve a few positive things for the French economy and French society in general.

2017 will prove to be a historic year for France in many ways-but what will be achieved in the long term?

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The 2017 general election: what have we learned?

The 2017 general election, like the February 1974 general election, was a snap general election and both marked a real turning point in British politics.

February 1974, which elected the most Liberal MPs for 38 1/2 years, marked the point where the two party system had really cracked. It opened the door for many smaller parties to come through and politics locally and nationally became a more crowded field. The Green Party was one of them, and in England has reasserted itself as the fourth party with UKIP's collapse and imminent demise. Due to the unfairness of FPTP, Caroline Lucas is still the only Green MP and is one of only 9 MPs (the other 8 being Liberal Democrats) in England bearing neither the red rosette nor the blue rosette.


June 2017, conversely, marks a turning point back to two party politics in the UK, for the Conservatives achieved 42.4% of the vote, the highest since 1983 (and equal to their vote share of 1983), and Labour achieved 40% of the vote, not much less than that achieved in both of Tony Blair's landslide victories of 1997 and 2001. The combined Liberal Democrat, UKIP, and Green vote was meanwhile only 10.8% across the UK. In so many seats in England, and a few in Wales for that matter, the Labour and Conservative candidates were the only candidates to save their deposit. Many Liberal Democrat candidates even in previously strong constituencies dropped from second to third, or did not move up to third having been pushed there by UKIP in 2015.

So what can be concluded from this election?

1. Theresa May should never have called it in the first place.

This general election was called only 2 years and a month after the 2015 general election, and general elections are expected every four or five years at most (the maximum duration of any Parliament in peacetime is exactly five years). The only reason Theresa May called it was to take advantage of an apparently large lead over Labour in opinion polls, which despite having improved their methodology are often inaccurate, and to give her a mandate for a hard Brexit, which in the end she did not get. General elections should only be called when the Parliament's life has run its course, or when it is clear the government can no longer function. Theresa May had a working majority which she has now lost.

2. British politics has become much more polarised.

With the collapse of UKIP, and the Greens being squeezed in many constituencies, most races boiled down to whether Labour or the Conservatives would win, and many contests which were held by the incumbent party featured majorities of less than 1000 votes. Turnout sharply increased as a direct result in many constituencies, although the overall turnout increased by 2.3% due to a slight decrease in turnout over in Scotland. In a large proportion of cases the combined Conservative and Labour vote was 90% or more. If this continues a problematic return to two-party politics is on the cards, and neither the Conservatives nor Labour are interested in structural electoral reform (some Labour MPs are, though).

3. Plaid Cymru is now the third party of Wales and the key alternative.

Apart from their gain of Ceredigion, Plaid Cymru did not perform well in this election, partly due to Leanne Wood's stance being similar to Jeremy Corbyn's in socio-economic terms. However, in the majority of Welsh constituencies they did not win, Plaid Cymru finished third (but they pushed themselves up to second in Blaenau Gwent) as UKIP dropped out of sight and the Liberal Democrat vote continued to crumble even with only 10 Green Party candidates in Wales instead of 35 in 2015. The Liberal Democrats now have no MPs in Wales and dropped from 8 saved deposits to a pathetic four (Ceredigion, Brecon & Radnorshire, Montgomeryshire, and Cardiff Central). Only in Powys and Ceredigion are they remotely competitive now. Plaid Cymru may be in for a hard fight in the long term, but they are nevertheless able to hold what they have.

4. The SNP will still be dominant in Scotland despite having lost 21 seats-but they must hold back independence ambitions for now.

Several SNP losses were by margins in the low hundreds, Stirling being a good example. A lot of people support Scottish independence, but so many people are still not convinced and also want to wait a few years before the question needs to come up again. Nicola Sturgeon failed to heed this, and in rural areas where support for independence was lower the SNP lost out badly. Most SNP losses were in rural constituencies, not urban ones. However, the SNP still had its second best ever set of results and remains the dominant force in Scotland for now, because it is able to unite those who support its cause and most of those who no longer support Labour.

5. There will be no second referendum on EU membership-we are leaving and that is final.

Neither Labour nor the Conservatives are going to hold a second referendum on EU membership, whichever side takes power. Even many Remain voters, who helped spark a backlash against the Conservatives especially in London, are willing to accept the result in return for concessions so that Britain does not end up with a bad deal once the Article 50 process finishes. The Green Party in particular did advocate that chance for voters to offer a new referendum in case the proposed deal was inadequate, but even many pro-EU voters did not take that chance as the election results show. We must therefore accept that Britain will be out of the EU for some time, whether Theresa May can form a government this year or not.


Friday, 9 June 2017

Theresa's plan backfired! My analysis of the 2017 snap general election

Theresa May's opportunistic plan has backfired-the Conservatives, far from gaining a landslide majority, now have no majority at all. At this time of writing only Kensington is still to declare, and there is a chance it could elect a Labour MP despite having some of the wealthiest real estate in London (especially around Earl's Court).

Only a handful of Labour seats fell to the Conservatives despite UKIP's collapse and subsequent transfer of votes. Those seats were Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland, Copeland (a by-election hold), Walsall North, Mansfield, North East Derbyshire, and Stoke-on-Trent South, with crucial seats like Newcastle-under-Lyme being held by Labour, if only by 30 votes in the latter. It is worth mentioning nonetheless that the last three of these seats had been held by Labour since 1922, 1935, and 1935 respectively, and it was inevitable Labour's dominance in Stoke-on-Trent would be brought to an end. Labour in return gained from the Conservatives Lincoln, Bedford, Ipswich, Peterborough, Warrington South, Weaver Vale, Crewe & Nantwich, Bury North, Croydon Central, Enfield Southgate, Colne Valley, Keighley, Gower, Vale of Clwyd, Cardiff North, Reading East, Warwick & Leamington, Brighton Kemptown, Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, Bristol North West, Stroud, Derby North, High Peak, Stockton South, Battersea, and for the first time ever, Kensington, Portsmouth South and Canterbury. The majority of those particular seats delivered a substantial Remain vote in last year's EU referendum or were only narrowly won by Leave, and aided in a backlash against the Conservatives. The same phenomenon ironically helped in Labour's capture of Leeds North West and Sheffield Hallam from the Liberal Democrats, ousting former deputy PM Nick Clegg in the process.

The Liberal Democrats avoided a net loss of seats after all, managing to finish with 12, but they did make some critical losses. They finished third in Southport behind Labour, who were reasonably close to gaining a seat that had never been theirs, and lost their last remaining seat in Wales, Ceredigion, to Plaid Cymru's Ben Lake by just 104 votes. Great hopes like St Albans and Cambridge were also missed and in many places which once had a 'Liberal tradition' they finished third, Cornwall being a strong example. The Liberal Democrats also lost more deposits than in 2015, not less, a victim of the major squeeze exacted by Labour and the Conservatives on everyone else. The Liberal Democrat gains were Eastbourne, Bath, Oxford West & Abingdon, Twickenham, and Kingston & Surbiton from the Conservatives, and East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh West, and Caithness, Sutherland & Ross from the SNP on anti-nationalist votes. They have however lost overall in vote share terms and are competitive in fewer seats than last time, as they can no longer rely on 'traditional' voters; in fact, no party can due to the substantial demographic changes that have taken place in the last 20 years alone.

In spite of all these spectacular losses, the SNP remain the largest party in Scotland and also hold a majority of Scottish Westminster seats, making this their second best ever night. Lost by the SNP were Banff & Buchan, Angus, Aberdeen South, West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine, Gordon, Ochil & South Perthshire, Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk, Ayr, Carrick, & Cumnock, Moray, East Renfrewshire, Dumfries & Galloway and Stirling to the Conservatives despite the Conservatives being third in many of those initially; Glasgow North East, Rutherglen & Hamilton West, Coatbridge, Chryston & Belshill, East Lothian, Midlothian, and Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath to Labour, and the three seats to the Lib Dems mentioned above; in some cases however the majority was in the low hundreds. This has certainly coloured the palette of the Scottish constituency map, with 35 SNP, 13 Conservative, 7 Labour, and 4 Lib Dem MPs returned in Scotland, and certainly shows that the unionist opposition is still rather divided in Scotland despite Ruth Davidson's best efforts. Much of this happened due to Scottish voters growing tired at Nicola Sturgeon's demands for another Scottish independence referendum, leading many voters to unite against her especially in places with a low appetite for independence, and rural areas where the SNP suffered the biggest hits (the Conservatives gained only one remotely urban constituency from the SNP-East Renfrewshire; the rest were rural and sparsely populated).

Plaid Cymru were very disappointed in Wales to have finished third in Ynys Mon despite fielding former MP Ieuan Wyn Jones; the national upswing to Labour helped them hold that seat, although Plaid held on to Arfon nonetheless. They also held Dwyfor Meirionydd and Carmarthen East & Dinefwr without any problems, and narrowly gained Ceredigion. However, they slipped back in Rhondda, Llanelli, Cynon Valley, and Neath, lost more deposits, and recorded few other vote share increases, Blaenau Gwent being a big exception. They will therefore have to resort more to holding on to what they have next time, in case another snap election ends up being on the cards.

The Green Party suffered a very poor night in spite of holding Brighton Pavilion with a record majority of 14,689. Only 8 Green candidates saved their deposits, which in the cases they did not win were in the constituencies of the Isle of Wight, Bristol West, Sheffield Central, Buckingham, Skipton & Ripon, North Herefordshire, and North East Hertfordshire. Their only vote share increase of note outside Brighton Pavilion was on the Isle of Wight and they finished third instead of second in Bristol West and Sheffield Central despite having campaigned heavily there for months beforehand. In many straight fights with Labour, their vote was decimated to its core level, and rural areas proved to be a missed opportunity for the Green Party that should have been capitalised on. The Progressive Alliance project, much vaunted by Caroline Lucas & Jonathan Bartley, cost the Green Party dearly especially against Labour, and meant they were unable to gain any of UKIP's protest votes. It also had no effect in the end, for many of the gains Labour and the Liberal Democrats managed were clearly achievable without it in light of the majorities achieved. The Green Party must not become a poodle of Labour under any circumstances; Greens must stand on their own and adopt a more universal approach, and reach out more to rural voters and coastal voters. The Green Party must return to its roots and core values, and must stop shifting to the left simply to out-do Labour. I will promise to ensure the Green Party can achieve all this and regain credibility that it lost in this election, and if I have to stand against, and oust, Caroline & Jonathan in the next leadership election to achieve these goals, then that is exactly what I will do.

UKIP were never going to do well, particularly with Article 50 already having been triggered, and it will continue to be triggered even without a majority for the Conservatives, since the DUP support Brexit as well and because there are not enough anti-Brexit MPs to prevent it. UKIP spectacularly fell back in many of the seats where it had done so well, its highest vote being in Thurrock where Tim Aker still secured 20.1% of the vote, compared to 7.6% in Clacton and 7.7% in Boston & Skegness. UKIP lost the vast majority of their deposits, despite still coming third in many constituencies, although it is worth mentioning that only 278 UKIP candidates stood. Even with the Greens' fall in vote share many UKIP candidates failed to beat the Green Party. They also did not save a single deposit in Wales. Their vote share collapse or lack of candidature was undoubtedly responsible for the few Conservative gains from Labour, even though Labour increased their vote in all those cases, and they made many Conservative seats even safer, so they did have a significant part to play in this election after all. With Brexit now clearly on course to happen, UKIP has lost its raison d'etre and will likely cease to exist in a matter of years.

Northern Ireland was a very interesting story, with the SDLP and UUP wiped out and Independent Unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon being the only Northern Irish MP not from the DUP or Sinn Fein. The DUP finished with 10 seats, their highest ever despite memories of the RHI scandal still being fresh, and Sinn Fein finished with 7 seats, also their highest ever total. The Green Party saved both their deposits from 2015, though, with Steve Agnew increasing his vote in North Down to 6.5%. The Alliance Party failed badly, suffering a considerable swing in Belfast East despite the UUP's intervention, and only finishing third in highly competitive Belfast South. Not only did the UUP lose both their seats but their vote share fell sharply in every other seat they contested except for Lagan Valley. The Northern Irish Conservatives, as expected, flopped badly even in Strangford and North Down. Only one TUV candidate bothered to contest a Northern Irish constituency, although Timothy Gaston did save his deposit with 6.8%.

All the minor parties did badly, apart from Louise Irvine of the NHAP in South West Surrey who was backed by the Greens and achieved 20% of the vote. This was still nowhere near unseating Jeremy Hunt, although his majority did decrease to 35.5% in what is one of the safest Conservative seats in the country. The Yorkshire Party did much better than in 2015, when they were Yorkshire First, but all 21 candidates lost their deposit. However, they did often beat UKIP, Lib Dem, and Green candidates depending on constituency; their best vote share was 3.8%. Like the Green Party, they do better in rural Yorkshire than in urban Yorkshire, especially in the ex-mining areas. The Christian Peoples' Alliance stood more candidates than every other minor party to no avail, since none of them achieved even 1% of the vote apiece and most of them lost support compared to 2015. UKIP's collapse did not help them at all as it could have; in fact their candidate in Maidenhead was beating by the OMRLP's Howling Laud Hope. All 10 Pirate Party candidates did badly, in line with the decline of the whole Pirate Party movement; none achieved more than 200 votes. UKIP's collapse did not help the BNP at all, since they all achieved derisory votes as in 2015; no other far right party stood at all. The only party of the far left to oppose Labour was the Workers' Revolutionary Party, and all five of their candidates did very poorly, usually achieving less than 100 votes each. It was a decent night for Independents, though, since many saved their deposits, although Claire Wright was unable to capture East Devon from Hugo Swire despite achieving 35% of the vote, squeezing out other parties in the process. Notable Independent performances include those of Salma Yaqoob in Bradford West with 13.9%, most of the ex-Respect vote, ex-Lib Dem MP David Ward in Bradford East, where the official Lib Dem candidate lost their deposit when David kept his with 7.8%, Jim Kenyon in Hereford & South Herefordshire with 11.0%, and Gail Turner in Ashfield with 9.2%, which was largely responsible for the Conservatives' failure to capture this seat from Labour's Gloria de Piero. Simon Danczuk, meanwhile, polled only 833 votes as an Independent in Rochdale, the seat he once held for Labour before being suspended by the party (he later resigned). Former Camborne & Redruth candidate Michael Foster's stand against Jeremy Corbyn and his left-wing mantra failed spectacularly when he polled just 208 votes in Islington North. The wooden sppon for this election goes to Bobby Smith of Give Me Back Elmo Fame, polling in Maidenhead an all-time low of 3 votes, and the second-lowest on record in a British general election.

Even though in theory Theresa May can bring the DUP to the table in order to retain power, it will be anything but strong and stable as she kept repeating throughout the Conservatives' terrible campaign. Perhaps there will be another snap general election in less than a year's time, and it is time Britain moved with the times and abandoned FPTP at Westminster level. Only electoral reform and proportional representation can bring strong and stable government in times of uncertainty for the United Kingdom as it begins its course to exit the European Union.

UPDATE: Labour gained Kensington after 3 recounts by a majority of 20 votes.