It is only the morning after the night before but the results in so far for the council and regional elections make fascinating reading.
Nick Clegg became the whipping boy for the electorate for broken promises and the policies of austerity. The loss of faith of the electorate in Nick Clegg is a stark contrast from a year ago.
It appears from the results so far that the LibDem share of the vote has reduced to 15% from around 24% ayear ago, whereas the Tory vote has only dropped 2% from a year ago to 35%. While Labour may get as much as 37% up 7% from a year ago.
On the face of it you could argue a bad night for the coalition and a good night for Labour, but this is not the overall national picture, it varies wildly from region to region.
In Wales the Labour vote has shot up at the expense of all the other parties and may have overall control which would be a historic moment. In Scotland on the other hand the SNP are looking to get 70 seats with an overall majority with the Labour vote shrinking massively. This again will be a historic moment showing just how popular and how the Scottish public trust Alec Salmond. This is likely to be the end of the Iain Gray as a leader in Scottish politics.
The story throughout England see’s the Liberal Democrats taking much of the blame of the electorate for the coalition policies. What is interesting though is that the Conservative vote has held up well only losing about 303 seats from a high watershed mark of support a year ago.
Labour really should have done better, and made a bigger dent in the Conservative support if it wants power. The Labour support has shrunk from the support shown in the opinion polls before the election along with an absolute plummet of support in their Scottish support, an election they were going to easily win according to the polls just a few weeks ago.
One theory on the way the Tories have performed is that people expect the Tories to have done what they have in government. They expect people to suffer and for a reduction in public services, whereas LibDem supporters did not expect the way they have capitulated to a Tory agenda.
The results will put political pressure on the coalition, especially the way the NO to AV campaign was handled by the Conservative party. scandalously lampooning Nick Clegg personally telling lies that even some of their supporters like David Blunkett have now admitted. The depths to which the Conservative sank in this election will leave a bitter taste in the mouth of LibDems.
Paddy Ashdown has written an interesting article here confirming just how angry the LibDems are about the Tory rhetoric.
It is clear that today will only get worse for the Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg and their core support may well be all they can hope for in support over the next few years. If they wish to be a force in British politics in 4 years time they have to show without doubt that they are influencing coalition policy.
The good news for Labour is that they have made gains without having any policies; without any presence from the leader Ed Miliband; and without any major coherent strategy. This bodes well in the future if they can actually come up with policies ovre the next 2 years. But a strategy to just wait for the government to lose the election may well play in to Tory hands.
To my mind, the political cycle is working in favour of the Conservative Party. They have dipped in support but not by much. Their core support is holding up as well as some they have gained from labour. They have 4 years to wait for the economic cycle to catch up, and with the boundary changes and reduction in MP’s the Conservative party will be able to get an overall majority a lot easier in the future.