The people of Britain have spoken. It's just that we don't know what they said.
- Lord Paddy Ashdown, 7th May 2010.
Seven years ago, the Great British people returned a hung parliament in which it was nominally impossible to guess who would be forming government. This time around, after a period of coalition, then the Brexit referendum, Prime Minister Theresa May called for an election which nobody wanted, which produced a result which few predicted. It far more easy to guess who will form the next government but as at four days after the election, that still is not definite.
As election night wore on, it was increasingly apparent that the British public had delivered a message that it wasn't exactly happy with the direction that the country was headed in but also not sufficiently annoyed enough to kick out the government.
The final state of play is thus:
Lib Dems 12
The political pundits at the BBC, ITV and at Sky, all came to the conclusion that Teresa May's gamble had gone horribly wrong and I have heard everything from a suggestion that she should resign from parliament immediately, to negotiating with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland and forming a coalition of sorts on matters of supply and confidence.
On the other side of the political divide, nobody expected for Labour to do this well, and Jeremy Corbyn is being hailed as hero in some quarters. This result will have sent a message to the ex-Blairite and ex-Brownite portions of the parliamentary Labour Party that he can deliver a result. Again, there have been calls for a massive Coalition Of Chaos with no brakes, picking up everyone and anyone who isn't a Tory, to depose the current resident of Number Ten and install a new one.
Although the SNP have suffered a loss of 21 seats and have fallen from 56 to 35, they have polled more votes than the other parties in Scotland combined and so Nicola Sturgeon was claiming that as a victory.
Although there are some people saying that Ms May making deals with the DUP is a bad idea, since government is made of a majority of members on the floor of the House Of Commons, she doesn't really have a choice in the matter. Actually, if Jeremy Corbyn wanted to form a coalition of chaos in a grand "everyone but the Tories" coalition, without the DUP they'd still only have 322 seats; which is four seats short of being able to form government, and such a beast would also include Sinn Fein who don't normally send their members to parliament.
Already the DUP have made murmurs that amidst their list of demands in return for their support on the floor of the House Of Commons is a return to the days when Orange marches were allowed. Even Blind Paddy Maguire can see that this is an absolutely terrible idea and that if this was allowed to go on, then the tenuous peace in Northern Ireland could be in very real and present danger; the scary thing is that the press had the temerity to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of wanting to take Britain back to the 1970s but this policy would dump Britain back in the middle of the dark days of The Troubles all over again.
At this exact moment in time, it will more than likely be Teresa May in the capacity of the office of the Prime Minister who will be answering when the Queen gives her speech in the next State Opening of Parliament but don't count on it. From now until then, there will be meetings up and down Whitehall between all sorts of people.
All we know at this point in time is that we don't know what the heck is going on. At this point there is no real masterplan and apart from the lesson of history from 2010, 1974 and Australia in 2010, we've might as well just throw all the balls in the air and see where they land.
At the moment the DUP haven't made any rumblings that anything solid has been put forward and they will probably want to negotiate for a lot of money to be poured into the Northern Irish economy. Rumour has it that the chief government whip flew to Belfast for a series of talks but as yet there isn't any formal agreement about those two most basic and crucial of things, confidence and supply. If that confidence and supply is not secured then with only 318 seats on the floor then if you remove Sinn Fein from the calculations then there's potentially 322 seats to pass a motion of no confidence. If that happens then just like 1974, this could be a year of two elections and given that Labour has already made massive ingrounds on Tory votes, Ms May's decision to roll the dice and call an election which nobody expected nor wanted might very well just come up snake eyes. If that happens then we will definitely know what the British public have said.