Filed under: Election 2005
It seems that post-election ennui has well and truly set in.
For the most part, its all quiet on the blogosphere front since Friday as people, especially those who were liveblogging the big day, try to recover from their exertions and mull over what, if anything, there is to be learned from this General Election.
Within the upper echelons of the newly returned Labour government, Blair et al will be slowly coming to terms with their new found vulnerability, courtesy of a sharply reduced majority, and busily doing the numbers to see which of the bills carried over from the last Parliament are likely to fall prey to rebellion within their own ranks - ID cards and Control Orders, when these next come around, are the obvious favorites. Meanwhile, the knives are already out amongst the ranks of the Parliamentary ‘awkward squad’ who’re eagerly awaiting their first shot at putting the PM’s diminshed authority to the test.
The Tories will be reflecting on a election which won them a good few seats off the back of own goals by Blair, lost them another party leader and saw their share of the vote going nowhere particularly fast. Worse still, for them, its now time for them to reflect ruefully on an upcoming leadership content in which the party that once saw itself as the natural party of government finds itself, once again, as shorn of credible heavyweight contenders as the sport of professional boxing. When the ante-post favourite for the Tory leadership, David Davis, is the same man who came fourth behind the non-entity that was Ian Duncan Smith in a previous leadership contest then you just know, deep down, that the Tories have a serious credibility problem to overcome.
Even the Lib Dems can’t be entirely happy. They may have had their best showing for getting on for a century and hauled themselves up into far more second places than at any time since Labour first broke through as a major electoral force but behind it all must surely be the recognition that much of their limited success, like that of the Tories, is a product of the personal unpopularity of Tony Blair and not their own credibility as a potential party of government. If the Lib Dems have achieved anything at this election then its that for the first time they’ve been able to carry the kind of protest vote they’ve been getting fairly regularly in by-elections for some considerable time into a general election. Its a modest success but still a long, long way from a real breakthrough or the advent of real three-party politics.
As a consequence anyone expecting the next few parliamentary weeks, heading in to the summer recess, to be anything other than dull and uneventful is going to be roundly disappointed. PMQs on Wednesdays will no doubt yeald its full measure of political knockabout, particularly from Michael Howard who, as an outgoing Tory leader will have little else to concern himself with on the parliamentary stage other than getting in a good few solid parting shots in Blair’s direction. It’s also here that Charles Kennedy’s obvious limitations as a Parliamentary performer will be most apparent - I think its fair to say that many Lib Dems would much prefer to see Menzies Campbell wading into the fray at PMQs on their party’s behalf rather than Kennedy who tends to punch well below his weight. And of course, we may see some fireworks from the newly elected member for Baghdad Central - assuming he turns up that is - although its best to play it cagey and see how his attendance record shapes up before calling Paddy Power for odds on the date of his first Commons suspension.
Beyond that the next few weeks promise to be amongst the dullest we’ve seen for a long time. With a posse of potential Labour rebels queueing up to deal Blair the kind of Commons defeat which would call his reported plans to stay on until 2008 into serious question, it seems almost certain that only the most anodyne and least controversial bills carried over from the last session will get an airing before the next Queen’s speech - precious little, in fact, for the nascent British Blogosphere to be getting its teeth into until the autumn.
Dull times ahead, methinks.