If anyone had any doubts about whether or not constitutional and electoral reform was necessary in the UK, I offer last night as evidence that it is. This morning we wake up with Gordon Brown as prime minister, despite David Cameron winning more votes and more seats. Both he and David Cameron claim to have a legitimate claim to form a government. Bit of a mess really.
The biggest negative for me is that the entire Lib Dem surge evaporated when it came to actually voting. That’s disappointing, not because I’m a Lib Dem, but because I was hoping for an end to a two party system. And you’ve got to wonder at how fickle we turned out to be as voters. I was also hoping for at least one or two independents.
On the positive side, the overall message from the electorate can be taken as ‘none of the above’, or ‘a plague on both your houses’. No single party can claim the country’s blessing, and we have a hung parliament. Labour has lost dozens of seats, but after 13 years in opposition, the Conservatives couldn’t wrestle a majority out of the voters. The party leaders now have to work out a compromise, and this is healthy. It’s messy, but it means reform is unavoidable. Interestingly, a hung parliament is what the majority of people wanted, so in that sense the system has delivered.
Here in Luton, a wide open field meant that we had more candidates than any other constituency in the country. With 12 to choose from, including five independents, the situation had become somewhat farcical. There were always going to be a lot of losers in a field like that, but fortunately the BNP and the two celebrity candidates were among them. Which is to Luton’s credit, no doubt about it. The town remains an island of red in a ocean of middle England blue, and having met Gavin Shuker on a number of occasions, I’m sure we’ve got the best possible outcome for Luton.
Who knows what will happen in the next few hours. We’ve had an election, and we could still end up with either a Conservative or a Labour prime minister. A lot of things could happen today, but I’m hopeful.