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[personal profile] peterbirks
 Election thoughts: week four.

Last week's trends have continued. The Conservative manifesto was, well, odd. It seemed as if its main aim was to piss off the core Conservative demographic.
The thing that will really hurt the Conservatives from their manifesto is not so much the triple lock (of which,more later) but the new policy on paying for care.
It matters not that the current system is unsustainable and that something needs to be done -- the statement that anyone with more than £100k in assets *including their home* will have to pay for their care, to be claimed back from the sale of the home on death, strikes at the heart of middle-income conservative philosophy. And I'm not sure what planet the Conservative leadership is on, but more than £100k is not a penalty on London and the South-east; TBH, people like me are shrugging our shoulders already and accepting £50k a year care-home costs either for our parents or for ourselves.
But in the conservative rural heartlands, where properties come in at around £200k to £300k, this will be an entirely new cost.
Now, let's be real here, it is not a *tax*. The removal of benefits is never a tax. But it is a *cost*. And it's a cost which will hit those more naturally disposed to vote Conservative.
And, no, I can't work out the thinking either.
As for the removal of the 'triple lock', this is, if anything, even more stupid, although it is unlikely to cost as many votes. Why is it stupid? Because it gets a lot of negative publicity for virtually no likely gain. The remaining "double-lock" is likely, for the next decade, to result in pensions increasing at exactly the same rate as they would have under the triple-lock. (See graph from Institute of Fiscal Studies below).

On the Labour side; well, it doesn't matter if the numbers don't add up, provided you present them with a sense of sincerity and gravitas, rather than swivel-eyed mania. And McDonnell is good at this. He sounds reasonable and sympathetic. It's not the substance of what you say, it's the way in which you say it.

On the LibDem side, well, it just gets worse. The phrase "it's the economy, stupid", goes back a long way when it comes to fighting and winning elections. But one would have thought that, this time at least, the LibDems would have benefited from being a "single-issue" party -- that of Remain.
But it's failed, and looks to be failing very badly. The soft Remainers who now want to get on with making the best of Brexit are splitting roughly according to the opinion polls (proportionately a few more Labour and LibDem, a few less Con and UKIP,but nothing radical). Meanwhile the hardline Remainers (some 22% of the electorate) seem to be splitting two-thirds to Labour and one-third to LibDem (with a very few going to the Conservatives and one dementia sufferer in Norfolk going to UKIP). This is just dreadful for the LibDems, and their only hope now for a decent showing is to focus on those few seats that they might regain after losing them in 2015.

Now, what good news is there for the Conservatives? A little -- just as Labour can suffer a serious hit on their national popularity and still come out with 150 seats, so they can get a serious boost to their popularity without gaining a lot of seats. So, even with the most recent opinion polls (i.e., the ones in the newspapers tomorrow, Sunday) my prediction for the result still runs at a Con majority of about 60. See below.

Con 353: Lab 217, LibDem 10, SNP 46 PC 4, Green 1 Speaker 1 Northern Ireland 18.

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