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Coffee House General Election 2017

This election proves it: every vote counts

9 June 2017

8:16 AM

9 June 2017

8:16 AM

Well, fabulous day for democracy, no? Not the outcome exactly – the Tories lost, but Labour didn’t win – so much as the sense that for once, every vote matters. Or, in the case of North East Fife, every two votes. In Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith has won by 45 votes – more or less the size of his extended family.

And Kensington – Kensington! – seems have gone Labour, with fewer than 35 votes in the outcome and another recount to come at 6pm. I still can’t get my head round it. (It would, come to think of it, be a handy seat, if available, for former cabinet ministers living and working in the constituency, and seeking re-election.)  

The other evening, I took part in a pre-election discussion at Farm Street Church in central London where I commiserated with a lady from that constituency: obviously, I said, given the scale of the Tory majority, she may as well stay at home if she wanted to vote for anyone but Victoria Borwick. But by way of consolation, she should remember that the pundits take into account – eventually – the overall national vote for the parties, in which she would play her little part. How wrong, how preposterously wrong I was. The day when there was a quadruple recount in Kensington (ex-Michael Portillo, Malcolm Rifkind, Alan Clarke) is the day you can say without lying that every vote does count. And that, for me, is brilliant.

Just a couple of other things. Obviously for many people, the important thing about the election is what it does for women. And I have so far sought in vain for obvious feminist grief at the possibility of losing, sometime soon, just the second female prime minister, which is funny, when you think how they reacted to Hillary’s defeat.  But all is still not lost for women (if we can get over the Women’s Equality Party getting fewer votes than the Raving Loonies): besides the girl-on-girl stuff in Scotland, we now know that Arlene Foster, DUP leader, will be calling the shots in a hung parliament, what with their ten seats and Sinn Fein’s no-show. Happy Days!

PS Actually, I may not have been entirely idiotic in telling the lady in Farm Street that the national share of the vote counts: looking at it, I see that Mrs May has got 42.4 per cent of the vote to David Cameron’s 37 per cent in 2015, with Labour on 40.1 per cent. Even allowing for the collapse of Ukip, that’s not quite the take we’re getting on the whole thing.

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