A 2019 General Election?
A recent ComRes poll indicated that only about half of those who voted Conservative in the General Election of 2017 are intending to vote that way in the next general election, which might come any time between Summer 2019 and early June 2022. I have been thinking and blogging etc for a year or so that 2019 might be the year. Mainstream commentators have recently been gravitating to the same view.
The Brexit chaos has highlighted the incompetence of the Theresa May and other Conservative Party governments stretching back to 2010: roads, rail, social security/”welfare”, the migration-invasion (mass immigration), crime etc.
As I have more than once blogged and (before I was banned in our “free” country, tweeted), the choice for many may be between a Labour Party government which may well prove to be incompetent, and a Conservative Party government which has already, time and again, proven its incompetence.
Labour, Conservative, UKIP, Brexit Party
Labour is now slightly ahead of the Conservatives in the opinion polls, probably because
- UKIP, though effectively washed-up as an electoral force, has managed, under its latest leader, Batten, to halt its downward slide;
- Brexit Party now exists and is taking votes mainly from the Conservatives;
- also, Theresa May is now finally seen almost universally as the disaster she is.
No-one expects UKIP to win seats in any general election this year; after all, 1 in 8 voters voted UKIP in 2015, but the rigged/unfair UK electoral system deprived it of its merited success. On strict PR voting, UKIP’s 12.6% popular vote would have given UKIP about 80 MPs. Indeed, had many not seen a vote for UKIP as a wasted vote, that number could have been doubled or even trebled. In Mrs. May’s now-famous screech, “nothing has changed!” as far as that is concerned.
UKIP will probably get a few percentage points of the vote in English and Welsh constituencies, maybe even 5%, but that will not win any seats. What it will do, though, is deprive the Conservatives (mainly) of those votes (nearly 600,000 in 2017). Many constituency seats are won and lost by less than a thousand votes.
Now we have Brexit Party, which I had thought would fight only the EU elections, but which, it seems (see Nigel Farage’s comments in Notes, below), now intends to fight the next UK general election.
My initial skepticism about Brexit Party has been proven wrong, at least in the opinion polls. Brexit Party is now running at anything up to 30% re. the EU elections, and, in initial polling, 14% in respect of Westminster elections. That latter polling may already have been superseded by events, but even 14%, at a general election, is huge, inasmuch as it means that Brexit Party and UKIP in aggregate may take away from (mainly) the Conservatives as much as 20% of the votes in any given English or Welsh constituency. In an average constituency with average GE turnout that works out at about 8,000 votes!
As usual, most of the Twitterati get it wrong. Look at the tweets below by one Tom Clarke, who seems to be a fairly typical Remain and anti-nationalist tweeter. He says, probably correctly, that 27% is not enough to “take power” but fails to see the side-effects in terms of depriving others of power…He also bleats about “mandate”. What about the 52% who voted Leave in 2016?
In fact, Twitter is a poor guide to elections and popular votes. The twitterati voted Remain in 2016 (losing side), thought that Trump had no chance of becoming US President (wrong again), and are (or often seem to be) almost all pro-immigration, virtue-signalling idiots etc…
The Labour core vote, though no more than 25% of eligible voters, is solid because it is composed of those unlikely to be enticed by other parties presently around, and particularly by the Conservative Party: almost all “blacks and browns” (and other ethnic minorities, except for Jews); almost all of the poorly-paid, unemployed, and disabled. Others, while not “core vote”, add up to possibly another 10% of the eligible electorate: those 18-24 (only 4% favour Conservative), voters under 35 (only 16% favour Conservative). Increasing numbers of persons in their 30s, 40s and older are victims of buy-to-let parasites and bully landlords, or are not getting much personal or social benefit from their work. Labour’s policies speak to them. The Conservatives have nothing to say to such people except “pay up or get out! And don’t complain about repairs!” and “poor pay? Get a different job!”
When one thinks “who today would vote Conservative?” the answer, in broad brush terms must be
- the wealthy
- the affluent
- buy to let parasites
- those who own their homes outright and are financially stable
- those elderly who are stick-in-the-mud creatures of frozen voting habits
That is the 25% or so core vote, to which must be added
- those who hate Labour or Corbyn enough to vote Conservative simply in order to keep Labour and/or a Labour candidate out.
Here is an important point: the Labour core vote may be and probably is growing; the Conservative core vote is shrinking.
The Brexit Party and UKIP strike both at the Conservative core vote and the potentially-Conservative non-core vote.
Would Boris Johnson make a difference?
Doubtful. I concede that I am as anti-Boris as almost anyone could be, but my antipathy is matched by many voters: Boris is apparently the choice for Con leader (and so, unless there is a general election, Prime Minister by default) of about 70% of Conservative Party members (if one can believe sources such as the Daily Express), but even if correct, that is 70% of (at most) 120,000 Con Party members, i.e. 84,000 voters out of at least 40 million (in 2017, about 32 million voted).
In polls of the wider public, Boris Johnson is only a few percentage points ahead of other possible Con leaders.
Since 2017, I have thought that the most likely result of the next UK general election is Labour to win most seats, but not enough to have an overall majority. Now, for the first time, I am questioning that and wondering whether a strong general election campaign by both Brexit Party and UKIP might weaken the Conservative vote to the point where, nationally, the Conservatives might get as little as 30% (could it drop even to 25%?) as compared to 42.4% in 2017 and 36.9% in 2015.
I am of course no psephologist, but using online tools etc, it seems not unlikely that, if the Conservative vote falls to 30% and Labour is five points ahead, Labour might end up with about 300 seats and the Conservatives about 250. Others, about 100. No overall majority.
If, though, the Con vote were 25% and the Lab vote five points ahead, the Conservatives would end up with perhaps 225 or fewer seats, while Labour might get about 320. Yet again no overall majority for Corbyn, but closer.
However, we are uncharted territory, and in the “glorious uncertainly” of the British electoral system, it is not impossible that, in dozens and perhaps hundreds of constituencies, the Conservatives might come in second rather than first, their vote sapped by voters voting for UKIP, Brexit Party and others.
The ComRes poll cited at the start of this article said that only just over half of 2017 Con voters were planning to vote Con next time. In 2017, about 13,600,000 or so voted Con. If that is reduced to about 7 million, then the Conservative Party is toast.
In that event, the parliamentary Conservative Party would be reduced to a half, even a quarter of its present strength, and Labour under Jeremy Corbyn might actually be elected with a considerable majority. After that, anything might happen.
Afterthoughts, 25 April 2019
In my concluding sentences, above, I explored what might happen if Brexit Party (and/or UKIP, but Brexit Party is plainly taking off in a way that UKIP now is not) were to take away a large number of votes from the Conservatives. I examined what would happen if, nationally, the Conservatives went from 35%-45% down to 30% or 25% (or even lower).
Nigel Farage has made comments indicating that Brexit Party might make inroads into the Labour vote too, especially in the North where Labour was once monolithic in its supremacy in most constituencies.
The polling percentages and national vote percentages can only take you so far. In 2017, Theresa May led the Conservatives to inconclusive victory-defeat and 317 MPs, despite getting 42.4% of the national vote, a level not achieved by any political leader since Mrs Thatcher in 1983. In 2015, David Cameron-Levita’s Conservatives only got 36.9% of the national vote, yet 330 MPs. Only in an electoral system as Alice in Wonderland as that of the UK could that make any sense.
In other words, predictions are tricky when it comes to exact or even inexact numbers.
However, in my view, Brexit Party (and what is left of UKIP support) will hit the Conservatives harder than Labour. Indeed, some voters in seats where Labour never wins may vote tactically to unseat Conservatives, even if the result is that a LibDem or other may get in as a result. One can easily imagine seats fought until now as effectively a two-way split which may now be fought as a three-way or even four-way split.
If Brexit Party can go up from its 14% polling (Westminster voting intention; in EU elections the figure may be as high as 30%) to 25%+, that raises the serious possibility of Brexit Party MPs being elected. If about half the 2017 Conservative voters are not going to vote Conservative (as ComRes reports), are they going to abstain or vote elsewhere? The fact that they bothered to vote before seems to suggest that they will vote again. That means that even in the handful of seats where the Conservatives won in 2017 with over 60% of the vote, the Conservative share of the vote might go from 60% or so to 40%. (the safest Conservative seat is North East Hampshire: 65.5% in 2017).
In the circumstances above, defending a 60% vote share and ending up with perhaps 40%, the Conservatives would still win in most cases, but that would not be the case in more typical constituencies, where the Conservative MP won in 2017 with 50%, 40% or an even lower percentage of the votes cast. A Con MP who got 40% in 2017 might end up getting 30% or even 20% next time.
If Brexit Party can maintain momentum, it (with UKIP’s effect added) will cripple the Conservatives, who will lose swathes of seats. For example, in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris Johnson received about 50% of the vote in 2017. Most of the rest (40%) went to Labour. Were half or even a quarter of the Conservative votes to be cast elsewhere, Labour would win (even if the votes “cast elsewhere” were not cast for Labour). In that example, Boris would end up with less than 40% and (if Labour’s 2017 40% vote were to hold up), the Labour candidate would win. That could be replicated in hundreds of seats, in theory. Most would fall to Labour, a few might go to or revert to LibDem, but it is also possible that some would fall to the Brexit Party. At present, unreal though it feels, it is not totally impossible to foresee Nigel Farage’s Frankenstein coming to life (energized by the Brexit hullabaloo itself) and actually ending up as a bloc of anywhere between a few MPs and as many as 50.
and Farage has now confirmed that Brexit Party will fight the next general election. The Conservatives are toast.
Update, 27 April 2019
Times columnist Iain Martin tweeted on 27 April 2019 that “Disintegrating Tories need a leader who can get the Brexit Party to shut up shop.” It is clear to him, quite evidently, that Brexit Party, even if only as a “super-protest”, has the ability to smash the Conservative Party forever by reducing a typical Conservative vote in a marginal or even hitherto “safe” constituency by anything up to 8,000 votes…
The corollary is —almost— equally true: if Brexit Party (and UKIP) either did not exist or were not popular, the Conservatives would be well ahead of Labour for the next general election.
27 April 2019
Interesting analysis from 2017: had Labour won 7 more seats (requiring only 2,227 votes!), Corbyn might now be Prime Minister!
and here is John Rentoul, writing in The Independent, saying outright part of what I have been saying (I think that he is the first msm commentator of importance to have done so), that is that the Conservative Party is a dead duck (he says “smoking ruin”!) and likely to run only third after Labour and Brexit Party at the next UK general election:
Not sure that Rentoul is right about Labour manifesto policy though: Corbyn might just continue to sit on the fence. It is working for him so far…
Meanwhile, Britain Elects tweets thus:
If that polling is right, the combined Brexit Party and UKIP vote at the possible/probable 2019 General Election is now running above 20%. Today 21%, tomorrow 25%, even 30%? Anything above 10% (as in 2015—UKIP got over 12% that year) is pretty bad for the Conservatives; anything above 20% will kill them stone dead. They would lose not even 100, but 200 MPs.
Update, 1 May 2019
With only 1 day to go before the UK local elections, I saw this tweet:
This is incredible! I am not a “supporter” of Farage or “Brexit Party”, but this is the sort of reception that few get! Reminiscent of the Fuhrer (though without the depth or substance, of course). Brexit Party is on a roll! Only three weeks to go before the moment of truth (EU elections).