Every general election produces an iconic character in TV street interviews, normally a woman no longer in the springtime of her life who succinctly gets to the heart of the matter.
This time it was straight-talking 86-year-old Molly Bennett from Meon Valley near Southampton. Asked how she would vote, she replied: “Well, I know who I’m not voting for. The red man (Corbyn). He doesn’t like the Jewish people and I don’t agree with that. I normally vote Conservative, but I can’t bear the buffoon.”
Well, the buffoon won, and by a relative landslide. Jeremy Corbyn was just about the only Labour Leader in living history who could not beat Boris after nine years of austerity-driven Conservative government.
Molly wasn’t that much impressed by the Lib Dems either, and that party’s leader, Jo Swinson, lost her seat.
Swathes of traditional Labour seats in Brexit-backing areas of the North and Midlands fell to the Tories, showing the effectiveness of Boris’s “Get Brexit Done” slogan.
The prime minister had gambled that he could win an election with support from towns and communities where voting Conservative was unheard-of. He was proved right.
His 80-strong majority will ensure that Britain will leave the European Union at the end of January, but 2020 will be dominated by at least 11 months of transitional wrangling over the new trading relationship with our former partners.
Like any divorce, it will be messy and rancorous. Boris will inevitably give ground on the details of transitional arrangements sector by sector, which will infuriate hard-line Brexiteers. The size of his majority means that opposition within the party by those elements who want a No-Deal exit can be side-lined. But the wrangling could continue for years.
At the same time Boris will have to deliver on the promises he made to win votes in previous Labour heartlands – a better deal for the poor, disadvantaged areas, the elderly and infirm – and that will see a fundamental shift in the appeal or otherwise of the Tory party. His conversion to “One Nation” Conservatism seems to show he understands that, but to deliver he will have to spend, spend, spend.
For Labour, Jeremy Corbyn’s departure is just a matter of timing, but it is hard to see how the election post-mortem on his Leadership will not turn into a bitter civil war given the shattering scale of the party’s defeat.
Even some of his hard-line supporters are leaving the Corbyn fan club, acknowledging that his toing-and-froing over Brexit, his failure to tackle antisemitism, his history of sharing platforms with terrorists, and the bullying of his cronies were all factors in the Labour massacre.
But Labour’s future direction is already a matter of bitter dispute. Many of their policies on railways, power companies and fat cat bankers were potential vote-winners, but – Brexit aside – it boiled down to that fact that the electorate didn’t believe they could all be delivered.
The Lib Dems suffered a massive disappointment too – losing their own leader and failing to increase their tally of MPs, while the Scottish National Party had a good night.