What happened last night is more than the eclipse of Labour. The Conservatives won on a populist platform: representing the will of the people in opposition to a venal political class. The core problem with that formulation is that the Conservatives are simultaneously seeking to appeal to both of those factions at once.
This could lead in the long term to a new political alignment, as a class of people with no obvious political home look for different ways to have a voice. Our political system militates against that. It is more likely that the vote will change the Conservatives. In the course of the next two or three years, they will be trying to appeal to their new electorate, and recruiting new members, very different from the rural and suburban heartlands they have made their own.
In the course of the next five years, then, I think we can expect to see the redefinition of coalitions of interest into two rather different main parties, looking rather more like the parties in the US. On the right, there will be something more like the US Republican party: mixed, angry, uncertain whether it’s more in favour of free markets or the pork barrel. On the left, there will be something like the US Democrats: an uneasy combination of liberals and conservatives, with a marginalised left wing. Neither of these combinations leaves much room for social democrats, trades unions, traditional Tories or the old political centre.