Both Ukip and the Green party emerged from the general election with one MP each: an outcome that has temporarily united them in support for a reform of the voting system.
While the result was no surprise as far as the Greens are concerned, I thought Ukip would do a tiny bit better and end up with at least two MPs. Instead the party went backwards, holding Clacton but losing Rochester & Strood (and doing so by a margin of 13.6 percentage points).
There is not going to be electoral reform any time soon – maybe not for a generation – so both Ukip and the Greens are going to have to find a different way of working the system to their favour.
Clacton aside, Ukip managed to poll more than a third of the vote in just one other seat: Boston & Skegness. It scored more than 30% in a total of eight seats, four of which were won by the Conservatives and three by Labour.
Of the seats listed in this graph, Ukip came first in one, second in 15 and third in four.
The party tended to perform best against the Conservatives in south-east England and best against Labour in north-east England and Yorkshire & Humberside.
But it got under 10% of the vote in almost every London constituency and in every Scottish seat (although it only fielded candidates in around half of Scotland’s 59 seats).
I don’t think any of Ukip’s achievements in parliamentary elections so far can be called significant. What would be significant would be a victory in a seat by someone who had not previously defected from another party. I’ll be fascinated to see how the party fares in the first by-election of this parliament.
The Greens came second in two seats: Bristol West and Sheffield Central. They also came within 0.1 percentage points of coming second in Hackney North & Stoke Newington.
On current boundaries, the party needs a swing of 4.4% to take Bristol West from Labour. This has to be their best chance of gaining a second MP in 2020, especially if the party can frame the contest as solely one between the mainstream and a plausible alternative.
But five years is an awfully long way away and it’s hard to imagine precisely what the political climate could be like in 2020. A United Kingdom outside the European Union, or in the EU but minus Scotland? A Conservative government fighting for re-election under the leadership of Theresa May or Boris Johnson? A Labour party trying to win from the centre ground in England and an entirely separate breakaway Scottish Labour party taking on the SNP in Scotland? A Liberal Democrat resurgence in south-west England?
It’s almost impossible to predict. But given what happened at this election, I wouldn’t want to try.