I should have listened to Ian:-
I've got the #electionfear.
— Ian Jones (@metro_land) May 7, 2015
He was worried about “shy Tories”. I tried to stay calm and confident. Thursday evening the polls were neck and neck and it looked as though Labour, even if it wasn’t the biggest party, had enough votes to lock the Tories out.
And yet… I had a nagging feeling that all wasn’t well.
Then the exit poll came out, and hope dissipated:-
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) May 7, 2015
Labour figures were duly wheeled on screen to tell Andrew Neil that the exit poll didn’t square with their experience in constituencies across the UK. However, once the results started to come in, it became clear that, if anything, the Tory vote had been underestimated.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I was looking forward to the wrangling of a hung Parliament and the promised “anti-Tory bloc”. I had little meme GIFs ready to go.
I continued tweeting out the odd daft joke, fuelled by an unholy combination of coffee and Pepsi Max. I finally gave up just after Sheffield Hallam declared, with Nick Clegg just hanging on to his seat. A few crumbs came in the form of Esther McVey and George Galloway losing their seats, and Nigel Farage failing to take Thanet South. Really though, Thursday night can’t be viewed as anything other than a disaster.
Through it all, I felt numb. It was only this morning when Ed Miliband announced his resignation, that it finally hit home what had happened. The Tories, now with a majority, and the freedom to push through all their crazy ideas.
Say goodbye to the Human Rights Act, the European Union and the NHS. Say hello to the Snoopers Charter and (probably) water cannon on the streets. Savage cuts to welfare, council services and the BBC are all in the pipeline. All the progress made during Labour’s 13 years in government – gone.
Perhaps the worst thing is that this represents a victory for the old establishment. Rupert Murdoch, Paul Dacre, the Barclay Brothers – this is the result they wanted.
I don’t mind admitting that I cried a little bit. I’m genuinely scared for the future. The next five years are going to be difficult for anyone on the left. The best we can hope for is that Labour regroups quickly, as it did after 1992. Meanwhile, I’m considering moving to Scotland… or Berlin (subject to EU free movement rules of course).