South West view of the General Election

God only knows what Brenda from Bristol will make of it all.

Back in April, she voiced the frustrations and annoyance of many when she was asked on national TV about Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election.

In her distinctive West Country tones, she gave full vent to her exasperation at the prospect of six weeks of politicians spouting their views on the streets and on the airwaves. Her rant became an overnight hit on social media and she unwittingly had her 15 minutes of fame.

No doubt Brenda will be even angrier if we have to go through the whole process again in the autumn.

The reality is that the results from Thursday’s General Election have raised more questions than answers and the ‘strong and stable’ mantra is starting to sound very hollow.

In the West Country, there was a smattering of shocks here and there, but the big story was the lack of any fightback from the Liberal Democrats.

Areas such as Somerset and Cornwall have long been considered the heartlands of the Liberal Democrat party.

Heavyweights such as Paddy Ashdown and David Laws had their power base in the region and other notable figures from the region include former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb and Nigel Jones – who held Cheltenham for more than 20 years.

The Lib Dems threw all they had at the campaign in the region, but the electoral map of the South West tells the whole story about the abject failure of the much-vaunted fightback.

There is just one small spot of yellow in the whole of the region. Wera Hobhouse took Bath from the sitting Conservative MP from Ben Howlett, it was a single consolation seat for the Lib Dems in the South West.

Meanwhile, it was a good night for Labour, particularly in the Bristol area.

The city is very much a Remain stronghold but there have been big divisions in the party over the issue of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The biggest scalp was Darren Jones’s victory over Conservative Charlotte Leslie in Bristol North West. Ms Leslie was a cautious supporter of Brexit but the issue appears to have been her undoing.

The other major story in the area came in Bristol West which was seen as a major target for the Green Party.

The sitting Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire has had a very difficult couple of years. As well as having to battle against serious illness she has also had to cope with an atmosphere that has been described as poisonous in her local party. Ms Debbonaire has been upfront about her concerns over Jeremy Corbyn which has not endeared her to Momentum and its supporters.

Presumably, her whopping majority of 37,336, one of the biggest in the country, will be a source of a great deal of personal pride and satisfaction.

Meanwhile, just up the road in Stroud David Drew took the seat back from the Conservatives with the slimmest of majorities.

So very little has changed in the South West and it feels like the whole exercise changed very little in the West Country.

And if Brenda’s worse fears come true and we are back at the polling stations later this year, who knows is things will change that much in the West for the Lib Dems.

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