May. 6th, 2017

peterbirks: (Default)
Week Two of the campaign.

A day's silence did Labour and the LibDems no favours -- the quieter the campaign, the better it is for the Conservatives.
Whether or not the Diane Abbott error on LBC will harm the Labour campaign remains to be seen. But I don't think I am going out on a limb when I say that it is unlikely to have converted many to Labour from Don't Know.
The local elections seem to me to have advanced our knowledge of the way this campaign is going in six ways:
  1. Labour will hold up better in Wales than the opinion polls predict.
  2. The Conservatives will do well in Scotland, now being seen as the default anti-SNP vote in many once-solid-Labour seats. May has also adopted a deliberate "one-nation" campaign that doesn't just include Wales and Scotland, but embraces them. The Thatcher Conservative Party was quite simply Middle England and Basildon Man. It was the equivalent of Nixon and Reagan's "Sunshine Belt" strategy and Trump's "Rust Belt" strategy.
  3. May's campaign harks back to the Conservative campaigns in 1955 and, specifically, 1959. The main difference in Scotland of course is that the opposing side is now the SNP rather than Labour.
  4. UKIP is imploding and the Conservatives are the main beneficiaries.
  5. The LibDems haven't achieved a national "all remainers support us" breakthrough. But they don't need to, or even want to. UKIP in 2015 was quite specifically the only "Leave" party, but it did them no good. What the LibDems need to do is focus on heavily Remain seats that were LibDem up to 2015. That might, just might, get them into the 30s.
  6. My current (very tentative, because we've had no opinion polls for a few days and I haven't seriously broken down the council voting) gives Cons an overall majority of 66, Labour on 192 seats, LibDems on 31 and SNP on 45.

Later:
I've been through all the council results in Wales, Scotland and England, and some odd regional differences have appeared.
My conclusion from the regional breakdown is that it doesn't look great for the LibDems in England, and it looks slightly less bad for Labour. Indeed it looked to me that in England the Conservatives would in the main be accumulating votes where they didn't need them.
However, there's a physical band in "middle England", geographically rather than demographically, running from Derbyshire in the East Midlands down through Warwickshire and Birmingham, and into Worcestershire, that seems to be reflecting a particular Lab-to-Con shift. This permeates out slightly to Staffs, bits of Yorkshire and Lancashire. I may adjust my spreadsheet to give Cons a "skew" in this geography, while giving Labour a relative benefit (still an absolute decline, but a relative benefit) elsewhere in England.
Scotland looks better for the LibDems and okayish for the Conservatives.
Wales is looking better than expected for Labour. Plaid Cymru doing better, but probably not enough to pick up any extra seats.
Of course, general elections are very different beasts, and LibDems, as I say above, might well outperform in the right constituencies on the day -- but in past elections this has usually manifested itself in a couple of gains and just as many, if not more, disappointments at targets missed.
Conclusion. I'd mark down LibDems a bit from 31, push Labour up a fraction to 195, Cons flat at 358. But I'll put the geographical loading into the spreadsheet ( a slow job, I fear) to see what difference that makes.

Labour Party campaign addition and a bit of editorializing:
Robert Peston quoted one Labour candidate as follows:
"When I knock on doors I tell people they can vote for me if they like me and not have any fear of Jeremy becoming prime minister - because there is absolutely no chance of that" .
Corbyn was in Manchester tonight to celebrate the victory of Andy Burnham, but of Burnham himself there was no sight.
I received my campaign letter from Heidi Alexander today. She is the Labour candidate for Lewisham East, a staunch Remainer last year and a strong anti-Corbynite. Of the current leader there is no mention in her campaign letter. None.
Peston claims that Labour candidates see Corbyn as "toxic" and that they are adopting an almost LibDem strategy -- fighting as individuals who will represent their constituents locally as individuals.
The Heidi Alexander letter is almost unique in that in the body of the letter she not only omits to mention Corbyn, but she omits to mention the Labour Party. She signs it "Labour Candidate for Lewisham East", and the footer has "Vote Labour".
I don't think I am wrong in saying that all of this is, to say the least, unusual.
Perhaps Peston is wrong; perhaps Heidi Alexander is making a mistake and there's a mass of people out there waiting to sweep Corbyn and socialism to power. But my feeling is that what there is really is a small homogeneous block of mainly white middle-class people, working in academia, teaching, for charities, local government or the NHS, who are mistaking their own wishes and dreams for a national feeling. That small group could be responsible for leading Labour to a horrible defeat.

Conclusion:
All that said, Labour doesn't look to me as if it will melt down as far as some are predicting, and this could be spun into a Corbyn 'victory' of sorts. But any Labour candidates who are looking to win seem to want him nowhere near them. So we have the farce of Corbyn himself being shuttled into campaigning in either unwinnable seats or unlosable ones.
Last time round Labour made the "Echo Chamber" mistake. They aren't repeating that, thank goodness. It's more a matter of an "it isn't fair" campaign, It isn't fair that people picked up on Diane Abbott's incompetence. It isn't fair that the electorate don't get to see how wonderful Jeremy Corbyn really is. It isn't fair that the campaign is focusing on issues different from those which Corbyn supporters consider "important".
This is possibly true (in part). It isn't fair. But to go on about it begins to sound rather like whinging.

August 2017

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