David Cameron has won a majority. The only seats left to call are ones he will certainly win. It’s a remarkable achievement, but one which actually makes his internal enemies in the Tory party much more powerful than they were before.
Cameron will be extremely happy this morning and yet he is the victim of a horrible irony: by being so successful, he has reduced his majority. The big, reliable cushion he enjoyed in coalition with the Lib Dems died along with the party, which has been reduced to a handful of MPs.
He is now much more vulnerable to rebellions. The right-wing Tory MPs who made his administration so chaotic in its first few years will be massively strengthened. They will be able to hold him hostage over every bill.
Remember the ‘alternate Queen’s Speech’ of 2013, when Tory MPs like Peter Bone, Philip Hollobone and Christopher Chope put forward a radical right wing agenda in the 'culture war’ mode? There were some remarkable ideas in there, like a ban on the burka, the reintroduction of capital punishment, the privatisation of the BBC and the renaming of the August bank holiday as Margaret Thatcher Day. Voters may need to get used to that sort of demand.
The types of Tory MPs who proposed those measures will become, for all intents and purposes, the day-to-day kingmakers. The only way for Cameron to get his legislative programme through is to give in to at least some of their demands. There is little reason for them to stop threatening him. They always had the will and now they have the way.
These MPs will also be galvanised by the election result. For a governing party to increase its share of the vote is almost unheard of. This will be treated as a vindication of the last government – not just in terms of its austerity programme, but also of a broader right-wing world view. And indeed, that is largely what it was.
The election didn’t just keep the Conservatives in power and strip the Lib Dems of influence over them. It also significantly strengthened the most right-wing elements of the party. Britain is now likely to experience a substantial shift to the right.