In calling the snap general election Theresa May rolled the dice and hoped (perhaps even expected) to emerge as a stronger leader with a more stable government on the morning of 9 June.
Instead, in the early hours of the morning it was becoming clear that the gamble had spectacularly backfired. The Conservatives is still the larget party, but they failed to achieve the 326 seats in the House of Commons needed to form a new government. Theresa May’s only hope to continue as PM, albeit one with significanlty reduced authority, is to do a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) who won 10 seats.
Even if a deal is done it will be much more difficult for Prime Minister May to get Bills through the Commons and would be increasingly attacked on two fronts. Her colleagues would no doubt start jockeying for a position to become the next new leader of the party and the opposition parties could thwart the PM’s ambitions that would be set out in a new Queen’s Speech.
Mrs May will be wondering how things could have gone so wrong. Unlike Gordon Brown, who hesitated at the time when he could have called a general election (and would more than likely have won), Theresa May took the plunge. The polls were with her and Labour was in apparent turmoil, but her campaign was mediocre. The Tory manifesto, unlike Labour’s, failed to spell-out any of their policies in detail and when they did, in the case of the so-called Dementia Tax, they were forced to make a policy U-turn.
The essence of the problem was that Team May had one mantra: “Stong and stable government” but as with promoting any brand, the hype has to be more than equalled by the product’s or service’s actual performance.
This morning the Tory brand is tarnished and Theresa May looks anything but strong or stable.