General Election 2017 Results


An astonishing election, the outcome reflecting that of February 1974 when the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, in the midst of conflict with the National Union of Miners, called the election, asking “Who governs Britain?”.  The resounding answer was “Not you mate!”


Key points:


  • Across the UK, no party has won an overall majority. With two seats left to declare, the Conservatives are expected to get 318 seats and Labour 262.
  • The Conservatives lost 12 seats while Labour gained 29.
  • Theresa May is facing pressure to resign from many in her party, arguing that she is fatally wounded and is not well placed to lead Brexit negotiations.
  • The Conservatives are expected to come to an accommodation with the DUP and lead a minority government. However Conservative plans for a hard Brexit are likely to be significantly watered down.
  • The SNP has returned the most seats in Scotland, but has suffered heavy losses, including of Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson. With their share of vote falling below 40%, a second independence referendum will be put on the back burner, at least in the short term.


The result reflected trends elsewhere in the west. Candidates who are outside of the political mainstream, whether it be Trump in the USA or Macron in France, benefited from the electorate’s cynicism towards the political elite, combined with its desire to start afresh.

Corbyn’s style was ’anti-politician’ and his refusal to talk in soundbites contrasted markedly with Theresa May’s endless repetition of tired clichés and, on occasion, personal abuse.

And Corbyn sensed that, after a decade of austerity, the country wished to look at an alternative approach. Labour’s Manifesto was a successful attempt to be inclusive towards other sections of the Labour Party and struck a chord with the public, particularly younger voters, while contrasting positively with a lacklustre and often poorly thought through Conservative offering.

The Conservative election campaign is widely regarded as the worst by any party in living memory, certainly since Labour’s 1983 “longest suicide note in history” prospectus. The election saw a return to two party politics south of the border.

The results

The results this morning continue to show a divided UK.  A resurgence of support for Unionist parties in Scotland, particularly for the Conservative party, was overshadowed by Theresa May’s failure to win an outright majority across the UK. And, given the criticisms of how she has handled the campaign, it is likely her time in office is limited. The Conservatives will undoubtedly form the next government but, given the challenges over the next five years, this could be looked on as a ‘good election to lose’ for Labour.

As for Scotland, it was expected that the election would deliver losses for the SNP as no party would be expected to win 56/59 seats second time round. Indeed the election was increasingly presented as binary choice: left v right, red v blue. But those caveats aside, the drop in the share of vote to 37%, and the loss of 21 seats, will be a huge concern for the SNP and likely to pause its independence drive. Questions will be asked about the First Minister’s strategy of linking Brexit to a second referendum, as the party only just held on to a number of seats with wafer thin majorities – which will be a  challenge to retain at the next election. However, she is undoubtedly safe in her position in the short term, helped by the lack of an obvious successor.

In Scotland there remains a multi-party system but there are signs that, with the drop in support for the SNP, future elections could become contests focussed on Conservative and Labour offerings, with the SNP playing a lesser role.

Returning to the 1974 analogy, the outcome may well result in a further general election within a year. Such a scenario cannot be ruled out particularly if Theresa May were to resign and her successor sought a fresh mandate from the electorate.

Independence and Brexit

The First Minister promised to reflect on the outcome and the likelihood is that any further independence referendum will not take place before the next Scottish Parliament elections in 2021. However, we can expect the SNP to demand concession in the Brexit negotiations as a price for this delay. A second independence referendum is still on the cards, at some point; support for independence now scores higher than support for the SNP at around 45%. But, as the dominant nationalist party, if it hopes to rebuild support, the SNP will have to show some humility on independence and demonstrate to the Scottish electorate it is focused on domestic issues.

As for leaving the EU, the Prime Minister’s gamble has failed and her government has no mandate for a Hard Brexit. Remain supporting Conservative MPs will now be emboldened to challenge the government’s approach of agreeing a free trade deal with the EU outside the Single Market, the Customs Union and ending the free movement of workers. The challenge is now for the opposition parties and Remain-minded Tories to collectively agree a set of priorities to put pressure on the government to acquiesce. There of course remains the risk that having a weak government in the UK will hamper negotiations and lead to a poor deal. Instead of providing a “strong and stable” government, the Prime Minister has undermined her negotiations with Europe before they have even started.

Far from being “strong and stable”, Theresa May must be the first Prime Minister to become a “lame duck”, even before Parliament has sat.




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