On Wednesday morning I set some benchmarks to judge last night’s results. Here is a back of the envelope look at those tests…
- Will Labour fall below 27%? Labour dropped to 26%;1% below Tony Blair’s 2004 performance. A grim result but not catastrophic. There have been no surprise calls for Tony Blair to go. The PM is now beginning a major overhaul of the Government. It looks like Straw is on the move and that Charles Clarke will go. Unbelievably John Reid appears to be playing musical chairs again, too. Choosing such a big overhaul of Government is not what you would expect from a Prime Minister planning to step down soon.
- Can Tories become the biggest party in London? Yes. Very good results for the Tories in the capital (Richmond excepted). Winning in Ealing was completely beyond Tory expectations.
- How will the Tories do in Manchester and Birmingham? Tories made progress in Manchester but failed to win that one elusive seat. Reports from the ground suggest that our organisation is being rebuilt there, however. Modest gains in Birmingham. Tories will stay in coalition with the LibDems.
- How will the Tories fare against the LibDems? No knockout blows against the LibDems but modest progress. Interestingly Francis Maude says that LibDems had worse night than Labour. CCHQ understands the importance of the LibDem threat. ConservativeHome will be focusing on the Tory-LibDem relationship throughout next week.
- What share of the vote will Tories get? 40%. A very good result and at the top end of expectations. Cameron enthusiasts will put this performance down to the party leader’s likeability and green image. Cameron sceptics will explain the 2% improvement on 2004 by pointing to Labour’s dreadful ten days and the recent Tory emphasis on crime. There is truth to the arguments of both camps. ConservativeHome believes that David Cameron will make big change announcements before the summer recess. He talked on the Today programme about "further and faster" change. It is important that he also keeps his fire focused on crime.
- How will the fringe parties and independent candidates do? Margaret Hodge’s intervention hugely to blame for the BNP’s Barking performance. Performance of other smaller parties looks unspectacular but more data is required.
More results to come but the ConservativeHome crowd’s prediction of 256 gains does look reasonably wise.