The Conservatives campaign was uninspired, and the stars were the posters rather than the politicians. With the exception of Michael Gove, the shadow cabinet seemed invisible. The 'big society' thing was just too cerebral for the voting public; what they wanted was the promise of instant wealth through enterprise, another 'Sid', another Right To Buy. More than that, I don't think they trusted a party that avoided the three big issues of the economy, Europe and immigration.
But whether the Conservatives would have done much better if, as Norman Tebbit and Simon Heffer would have it, they campaigned on traditional Tory values rather than the soft centre ground I really don't know. Those are my policies, for sure, but I have the feeling they would have failed to connect with voters even more than the chosen course of action.
One of the things that has struck me is the extent to which local voters felt confident enough to make seemingly perverse choices, with local factors overcoming tribal party loyalties. This wasn't the triumph of the independents, but the character of individual candidates rather than their party affiliation seemed to matter for the first time. Jacqui Smith and Peter Robinson - bent bastards both - were thrown out. As was Ann Keen. Yet in other cases where an incumbent MP had proved a good constituency asset, popular locally, voters chose to overlook their expenses misbehaviour.
I'm opposed to PR generally because it breaks the local link between the MP and the constituency and gives power to the dead parties. Having said that, the AV system has just elected our Mayor here in Lewisham, a run-off between Labour and the LibDems; here's the figures
Labour: 47,861 1st choice + 4,670 2nd choice = 52,531
LibDems: 26,445 1st choice + 10,001 2nd choice = 36,446
Now this doesn't look too bad; I could accept simple AV in place of FPTP for Parliamentary elections. The local link remains, as does the character of the candidate. But no party top-up lists, no AV+, no national PR.
We also desperately need to equalise our constituencies in terms of the electoral quota. Millions of people have moved out of moribund Labour areas into prosperous Conservative ones, yet the number of MPs each area returns have remained unchanged. This offends any notion of fairness.
Postal voting on demand has been massively abused, largely by Asian immigrants in Labour areas. We need to rethink this alongside a one-off 'combing out' exercise to remove fictitious electors from the registers; the next registration round should be supported by either a birth certificate or passport, and have to be made in person. Once verified, and as long as a voter remains at the same address, no further check would be made. Only Commonwealth citizens with proof of immigration status should be permitted to register - with a 'stop' date coterminous with their visa expiry.
And returning officers need their arses kicked if they failed to make adequate provision for voting. This is an easy one; just ban the guilty ones from ever acting as an electoral officer again. This will hurt them badly, and frighten the rest into not repeating the mistake.
The Political Class
The election has dealt a major blow to the political class, though it hasn't been a catharsis; we still hate them. The public have gone into slow burn, and having got the bastards on the back foot are waiting and watching.