Friday night, 8 May, was a time for crying-in-the-beer. We had lost 50% of our Parliamentary representation and it seemed that we had been given the Christmas turkey treatment by the electorate. However, it turned out that we had quadrupled our vote in terms of pure numbers, and we had come second in 118 constituencies, albeit sometimes a distant second. So it wasn’t all bad.
So what happened? The Tories ran a campaign of fear, fear of a weak Labour government being dominated by a hoard of rampaging Scots, bent on looting the English taxpayer’s pockets and carrying the spoils back over the border, and it worked very well. We saw first the news report of Nicola Sturgeon saying how she would be writing the next Labour government’s budget. Next we saw Alec Salmond saying it was going to be him writing that budget. Then it was Len McCluskey saying it was going to be him writing the budget. Finally someone from the Labour party said that it would be Chancellor Ed Balls who would write the Labour budget. Talk about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse descending on our economy! If that wasn’t enough to scare the hell out of anyone with any economic common sense, then I don’t know what would be.
Poor old Joe Public was so scared of the scenario that the Tories painted that he voted Tory out of panic, believing that voting Tory was the only safe way to avoid economic Armageddon. All of our issues, immigration, EU domination, etc were set aside, and all the voters that would have voted for us in different circumstances lent their votes to the Tories out of fear.
What did we do wrong? The answer is nothing. We campaigned on the issues we thought important, and we had a set of good policies that had been properly costed. We seemed to be the only party that even mentioned the national debt, let alone what to do about it. I suspect that the main parties had a guilty conscience about running up such a phenomenal debt, and so wanted to keep it quiet.
So where do we go from here? I suggest that we carry on doing what we have been doing. Keep the party and its message in the public eye as much as possible, and challenge the other parties whenever we can. It is likely that the Tory backbenchers will force an EU referendum, against Cameron’s wishes, but it is likely to end up as a biased exercise, loaded in favour of remaining in the EU. We still have our MEPs, led by Nigel, who can make a noise about this, and the media will have to give us share of exposure as this is a European issue, and we speak for Britain on the issue of Europe.
This election may have been a bit of a Dunkirk for us, but if we just keep the faith and carry on existing, we will eventually have our D-Day, which will eventually result in a VE Day for Britain. Then we can all give our livers some real exercise!