Just had a look at the latest results of the local elections. If there is a story, a big story, it is not Nick Clegg. Clegg, along with his party, is a side-show. All I will say on that is that Cameron should now support Clegg to the hilt and do everything he can to strengthen the position of his deputy. It goes along with the old rule about being nice to people on the way up because you will certainly need them on the way down.
Tories on the way up?
Yes. Latest figures show they have actually made a net gain in the number of councillors and one council. This is astounding. The "others", the parties of the loony left and right have made massive losses, many, I suspect, have had voters migrate to the main parties. Except the Lib Dems, that is. Labour has not done as well as it may seem. They are clearly benefiting from an anti-Lib Dem vote.
No, the astonishing thing about yesterday's election is that the Conservatives have not only remained resistant to everything we have been fed about them, the people have given them what at least is a partial thumbs up to the way they are running the country. A majority of voters support the need for economies. You have to be deluded to be in favour of continuing the profligacy of the last government. Finally, people are catching on to this and the vote last night proves it.
The AV vote has yet to come in, but see my post below about that. Nobody wants weird changes to the system in times of stress. It is sad news for those who want voting reform because it will be a long time before there is a political will to do this again.
Scotland has its own story. My local MSP Iain Gray, scraped in with 150 votes. Gray of course is the leader of Labour in Scotland so his personal result is nothing short of a near disaster. Alex Salmond must be more than his usual oleaginous self this morning. Don't get me wrong, I voted for him, but he does have a way of looking far too pleased with himself.
The fact is, in Scotland, the result has little to do with Labour. Politics works in Scotland. The SNP have managed a rare balancing act of being old fashioned socialists and at the same time have mostly avoided becoming obessed with providing free translation services for Lithuanian Lesbians.
Some of us remember that it was the SNP who assisted the fishing industry during the fuel crisis a few years ago when Gordon Brown absolutely refused to help. This kind of thing gets remembered. Labour has been just about crap at everything, having never really torn itself away from the Westminster government. Your man in the street sees potholes being repaired, gets free prescriptions and a mood of fairness about austerity. Nicola Sturgeon's dumping of PFI, almost the day the SNP formed a government, was far-sighted and showed clear blue water between the SNP and Labour. All these things are easy to see and they are real.
So, really, this is not about politics - I mean the result - it is about the voters' reaction to the times we live in and we either dismiss that which we do not understand (AV) or cleave to what we know (The Conservatives and the SNP)
All the rhetoric in the world cannot stand against our basic emotion to hunker down, stay calm and wait.