Having now been asked to go down to our local school/library/porta cabin and, in my case, working men’s club three times in 24 months, us Brits – and especially Brenda from Bristol – are suffering from a bit of election fatigue

So much has changed in that time. Two years ago, a smiling (almost smug) David Cameron stood at the lectern outside Number 10 to thank the country for voting him in again.

This time we, the people – in our democratic wisdom – had officially nominated Cameron with a clear mandate to lead us for another five years. Fast forward to 2017, he’s been gone for nearly a year, having not been able to quell internal rumblings within his own party. Cameron arrogantly gambled that we would silence his critics on his behalf.  As it turned out, he was way off the mark. The people (well, 51.9% of those who voted) agreed with his critics and Cameron was left with no choice but to fall on his sword, or run away with his tail between his legs. Whichever analogy you prefer. 

The subsequent leadership election (another one) had its highs and lows, as well as an unexplained pink Union Jack. Five hopefuls were whittled down to one, and the last woman standing was Home Secretary Theresa May.  Since then, we’ve heard the same statements read dispassionately. However, on one issue, she has been firm, clear and unequivocal: there would be no snap election.

Why would she voluntarily face the public when she had another three years left in the meter?

Then, calmly one Tuesday morning, rumours circulated on Twitter that the PM would be making a statement at 11am, either she was about to quit, a Royal had died or she was about to call a general election. It was the latter. The date was set for Thursday June 8, 2017, and the reason was to give Britain “certainty, stability and strong leadership” to start the negotiations to extrapolate ourselves from the other 27 EU states.  Her change of heart, she said, was down to a five-day walking holiday in North Wales. If it brings about such a turnaround, remind me to avoid going there at all costs.

At the start of their campaign, the Conservatives had a 20-point lead in the polls. After the last two visits to my X in the box, I walked in confident of being in the majority and ‘winning’, only to be disappointed. So, I pretty much ignore polls. Campaigning had to be suspended twice in those seven short weeks as the U.K. suffered two horrendous terrorist attacks within quick succession. The country looked to the PM and her government for guidance and answers, and armed forces were deployed onto the streets. The former Home Secretary had overseen the reduction of armed police in her six years holding the post. The police were vocal in their criticism.

As the date drew nearer the points got smaller, 16, 11, 8 (single figures), 5, and finally 2 tantalising points. Considering a margin for error – that politics A-level has served me well over the last few years – this was going to be close.  I had my day all planned: work, shopping for snacks, home for a nap till around 11:30pm, then up and watch the whole spectacularly unique (a bit crap) BBC coverage. If they had retired the swing-o-meter I’d want my license fee back. I’d also booked the next day off work as this wasn’t my first rodeo.  I woke with a start at 12:30am – not a good omen. It turns out I’m as superstitious about politics as I am about football. I switched on the TV to find the Labour Party were 25 seats up. What a great start! As I went backwards and forwards to the kitchen, the gap remained 15+ to Labour.  Having been here on many election nights I know Labour voters get to the polls early. As the night wore on, I drifted off a few times and the new improved swing-o-meter was there. Around 3:30am the counter started to move quicker for the Conservatives, and by 4:00am the scores showed 220-220. My heart sank.

The night had already taken some big names: Nick Clegg was out. His face showed an air of inevitability and, in all honesty, I was surprised he’d survived in 2015 after an unforgivable U-turn over tuition fees.  Simon Danczuk didn’t even get his deposit back, George Galloway, who’d been targeting the recently vacant seat of Gorton, was trounced after taking a mere 5% of the votes. Up in Scotland, Alex Salmond came second, and equally embarrassed was Paul Nuttall who thought Boston & Skegness would be an easy win with the highest ‘Vote Leave’ percentage in the country (75%). But they said, “no thanks” to UKIP.  Ironically, Conservative Gavin Barwell the author of a book entitled How to Win a Marginal Seat watched helplessly as his Croydon seat went to Labour.

We saw the return of Liberal Democrats who had lost out in 2015 with Vince Cable, Simon Hughes and Jo Swinson, and even Zac Goldsmith managed to find his way back into the limelight. Special mention to Diane Abbott who took a step back earlier in the week due to ill health, but still saw her majority for my old manor of Hackney North and Finsbury Park increased to 35,000.  Also, my friend Jeff Smith who as a first time MP in 2015, unseated John Leech who had served Withington for ten years with a majority of nearly 15,000. This time, he beat Leech and increased that majority to 29,000. At the other end of the scale, current Home Secretary Amber Rudd nervously asked for a third recount which eventually gave her a slim win of just 300 votes.

At the time of writing, Kensington were still to declare after three recounts, but the Conservatives cannot now form a majority government seeing their seat tally reduced from 330 in 2015 to just 317. The snap election, and subsequent negative campaign, had cost May’s colleagues their seats. In her first short interview during the afternoon, she looked genuinely sorry. The election wasn’t needed or due, but she and her team had gambled on the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn to galvanise their position. They were wrong and had exposed themselves to yet another coalition, this time with the less palatable Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). What a difference seven weeks makes. 

Even though he hadn’t won, Corbyn and team had increased Labour’s seats by 30, which can only be a positive considering the onslaught of tabloid headlines (one day the Daily Mail dedicated its first 13 pages to discrediting him. Yes, that’s right. Thirteen pages) and having just seven weeks to turnaround a 20-point deficit in the polls.

In attempting to appear strong and stable, Teresa May had shown herself and her party to be neither, and it remains to be seen if she will last long. After all, those who circled around Cameron last year are still waiting in the wings for their chance to pounce.

By Michelle Nicholson