The general election result has created a huge amount of uncertainty over the future and it’s fair to say that nothing like this has ever happened in British politics before. At NCFE, we’re committed to keeping our customers updated on changes and developments in the sector, so here’s a critical look at the numbers to help us illustrate just how close the result was, and how difficult it could be to navigate through this vital period of our country’s history.
328 seats, 13,943,216 votes - Conservatives + DUP
309 seats, 16,203,269 votes – Labour + SNP + Liberal Democrats
Keeping it simple, 322 seats are required to have a majority in the commons. The Conservatives fell short with 318 seats. An alliance with the DUP means they have the required number to form a government – just. Between them, the Conservatives and DUP won 13,943,216 votes.
Compare this to the 16,203,269 votes won between Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrats combined, and the mandate looks weak. However, the current system means that it’s only the number of seats that matter, and all these votes translate into only 309 seats.
287 votes from Conservative majority
2,227 votes from a Labour Prime Minister
The Conservatives needed only 4 more for a working majority, and with many closely contested seats, this translates into only 287 votes.
However, had they won 7 fewer seats, Jeremy Corbyn may well have found himself in10 Downing Street, as The Conservatives and DUP between them would still not have a majority. These 7 seats were separated by only 2,227 votes.
It really was that close.
49% of people think Theresa May should quit
38% think she should remain in post (Survation poll, Mail on Sunday)
The result is unhelpful for anyone with an interest in education and skills. The education policies in the Conservative manifesto hang in the balance. Around half of the British public (and some of her own ministers) believe that Theresa May should quit. Uncertainty over the long-term future of the Prime Minister casts doubt on manifesto pledges and prevents the government from remaining focused on implementing their policies.
Policies such as selective schooling are likely to be dropped because the slim majority increases the chance of the government being defeated in the commons. The implementation of the Post-16 Skills Plan is already severely behind schedule and Apprenticeship reform is continuing along a bumpy road with many issues still to address. Impending Brexit negotiations will be prioritised over all other government business.
We also face the prospect of working with yet another new Minister for Skills, after Rob Halfon was removed from the post. There have been 4 different people fill the role in the last 3 years. This has deprived the sector of much-needed stability during a period of intense change. The new incumbent, Anne Milton is a former nurse and has a background in health, so it’s likely to take her some time to get familiar with the education brief.
I fear that education and skills will be starved of the attention it so desperately deserves. We must never forget that people’s lives and futures are at the mercy of policy reform, and we owe it to them to get it right.