The Conservative Party has gained 97 seats, our best result for years*, but we weren't quite able to win an overall majority. So what should happen next?
I think David Cameron was right to make what he called a big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats. The country desperately needs a strong, stable government that can tackle the debt crisis, get Britain working again, fix our broken society and restore faith in our politics. Of course all Conservatives would rather we had a majority Conservative Government but the public haven't given us that. They have however made it clear that they want a change from Labour and they will be looking to both us and the Liberal Democrats to behave responsibly and put the national interest first. There are many areas where we agree and on other issues we are both going to have to compromise. No-one likes compromising but it is better than either of the alternatives - a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition or a minority Conservative Government unable to make some of the changes the country needs.
* These gains were only possible because under David Cameron's leadership the Conservative Party has changed. As a result, unlike in 2005 or 2001, people who wanted change felt able to vote Conservative (between 2005 and 2010, Labour's vote fell by nearly a million while our vote increased by nearly 2 million; between 2005 and 2001, Labour's vote fell by more than a million but our vote increased by only just over 400,000).
Nevertheless, we need to face the fact that there are still many people who have Conservative values and/or support Conservative policies who cannot bring themselves to vote Conservative. Far from being finished, the job of changing perceptions of the Conservative Party - among the bme community, the less well-off, in Scotland for example - has only just started.
I have avoided using the word modernisation because within the Conservative Party that is loaded with connotations. I am certainly not saying that we need to apologise for what we believe in or stop talking about important issues like immigration (I am a strong believer in the "politics of and" as espoused by Conservative Home's Tim Montgomerie). All I am saying is that there are still lots of people who won't consider voting for us despite agreeing with us on many issues and if we have any sense we will seek to do something about it.