It’s fair to say, the results of the 2017 General Election didn’t exactly go the way it was expected. Nationwide, predictions saw Theresa May increasing the majority she currently held or losing a few seats while still retaining an overall majority.
However, support for the Labour party was stronger than expected and the election ended with neither party able to gain a majority, leading to a hung parliament.
Commenting on the result Adam Cave, Managing Director of Murray McIntosh said:
“It made perfect sense to call an election, the Labour party appeared to be weak, split and imploding. Taking this into account, from a Conservative perspective and given the political landscape, the campaign and result can only be classed as a complete and utter fuck up. The entire campaign was poor and totally mismanaged; the manifesto seemed badly researched and lacking in key detail; there was an obvious discomfort and lack of trust with senior members of the cabinet; Number 10 and its Policy Unit isolated themselves from the party and displayed an overreliance on unelected individuals. Poor appointments across the board have, in a variety of ways, come back to haunt May at a time when an increased majority should have been easily achieved.”
A hung parliament occurs when there is no overall majority in parliament and therefore no overall control. When this occurs the previous controlling government has a few options:
To form a government, one party must hold more than half of the parliamentary seats in the UK. While 326 is the usual number, the speaker and his three deputies are discounted as they do not vote. Sinn Féin MPs also don’t take their seats and this further reduces the amount needed for a working majority. This election the total needed for a working majority was 320.
Since the election Theresa May has created a deal with DUP to allow them to form a majority government. This deal included £1billion to ensure that the DUP back her policies, a decision which has already been met with many criticisms.
When discussing the deal between the two parties, Adam commented:
“It is unrealistic, in these circumstances, to hold different expectations of May and the Conservative party; the reality is that any other incumbent party would have explored ‘coalition’ options before the thought of stepping down was even considered. Corbyn and Labour would have had to form their own coalition, so some form of ‘trade’ would have taken place there too, it’s an easy topic to score political points and grandstand on when in opposition. The main issue here is not the election result, nor the concept of ‘coalition and cross-party support’ – after all, that is simply democracy working as intended – rather, it is who the ‘coalition’ is with and the perception of any associated detail within the ‘deal’. We are all aware that the DUP are questionable at best when it comes to their views, nonetheless, anyone in May’s position would have done the same to maintain their own position and, ultimately, career”
Prior to the deal being made, Theresa May decided to press ahead with the Queen’s speech on the 21st June, before a formal agreement had been made. The speech outlines the Conservative manifesto, and it was found that many unpopular policies such as the scrapping of school lunches and means-testing the winter fuel allowance were absent this year.
The Queen’s speech is given at every State Opening of Parliament ushering in a new government and parliamentary year. While the Queen recites the speech, it is typically written by the government and outlines all the laws from that party’s manifesto that the Prime Minister promises to honour throughout the next year. The annual speech is also used to announce a list of state visits the Queen will be making in that parliamentary year.
Adam Cave spoke about the Queen’s Speech saying:
“Much of the manifesto was missing from the Queen’s Speech, given the reaction to this throughout the campaign it would be fair to assume that over the next 12 months we will see a variety of these pledges and policies gradually dropped and buried. The Conservative’s need to focus on stabilising the party and regaining the country’s trust. Obviously, Brexit will continue to dominate the political stage for at least the next 20 months. However, ‘off-stage’ it goes without saying that, with a new head of policy being hired by May, the policy units will be full steam ahead in shaping policies that address the shortcomings of the previous manifesto, ultimately, placing them in a stronger position. If there is one thing I think we can all agree on, it’s that this parliament and government will not serve a full term.”
The General Election have placed Theresa May and the Conservative party in a considerably tougher position. A recent YouGov poll suggested that public opinion is leaning towards the resignation of May, with 48% thinking she should go compared to 38% who believe she should stay. Alongside this, Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin has suggested that a deal with the DUP would breach the Good Friday agreement.
Despite this, Theresa May has no intentions of standing down, with many within her party believing that doing so would delay and complicate Brexit negotiations that are already well behind schedule.
While May originally called the election under the pretence of increasing her majority in the House of Commons, ironically her strong and stable government showed signs that it wasn’t as popular as Conservatives believed.
With no party having a majority, there is no clear outcome what will happen until the Queen’s speech. The Conservative party could remain as the incumbent government with the most seats, or May could stand down prompting a new leadership election or General Election before the year is over.