peterbirks: (Default)
[personal profile] peterbirks
 What is becoming increasingly clear is that Labour is having the best of the General Election campaign, but that this is at the expense of UKIP and the LibDems. The Conservative vote is holding up. This could have two paradoxical effects:
1) It won't make a great deal of difference to Labour seats if they get 28% or 31%. The Conservative majority could vary from, say, 60 to 110, while Labour seats would shift from, say, 160 to 185.
2) But that 30% barrier is important in another way. because if Labour gets 31% this time, Corbyn supporters can say that he performed better than Ed Miliband did in 2015.  Far from leading Labour to political destruction, Corbyn and his backers could argue, with some validity, that his view is more popular than was Miliband's.
There is a paradox here, because it could be argued with equal possible validity that the strength of the Labour vote is down to two possible explanations:
a) National: The Labour manifesto is having an effect; the Corbyn campaign is getting through
b) Local: People are voting for Labour candidates who are telling voters that "look, there's no chance of Corbyn forming the next government. But vote for me and I'll be one of the ones getting rid of him"
c) the true position almost certainly being a combination of the two.
That could lead to the farcical situation whereby a person who votes for an anti-Corbyn Labour MP achieves the aim of electing that person, only for that vote also to be taken on a "national' percentage scale as a support for Corbyn's Labour, making it far harder to unseat Corbyn. Anti-Corbyn Labour MPs want to win themselves, but want a national disaster that makes a Corbyn leadership untenable. And many Labour voters probably find themselves in the same boat.

Andy Ward this morning referred to Theresa May as "an empty shirt", and I don't think that's an inaccurate analysis. Home Secretaries are rarely "top tier" (the last before May to become PM was Callaghan, while the last one to become a good PM was Asquith, who was HS from 1892 to 1895) and, let's face it, her coming to the leadership was like something out of Lemony Snicket.

As such the Conservatives are adopting the best strategy -- keep everything tightly under control and reduce the number of even controlled media appearances as much as possible. Northern Ireland was a great place for her to campaign. A good excuse for high security and not a Conservative or Labour Party supporter in sight. I wouldn't be surprised if she popped up next in Gibraltar or the Shetlands. That this is infuriating Labour supporters is just more evidence that this is the right tactic.
As ever, Labour party supporters think that it's about winning the argument, whereas in fact it's about winning the election. Elections in the era of The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, Eurovision and "Cash In The Attic" are not the same as elections when Nye Bevan could windbag to 50,000 people and no-one would notice the lack of substance in the (unrecorded) speech.

But Labour can't try to beat the Conservatives at this game. As such, they are probably right to focus on "issues" -- especially ones that appeal to people who don't understand the hard facts of economics. If the Conservatives are the mum and dad saying "it's tough out there, the world is full of enemies, but we must hang together and hunker down as a family", then Labour is saying that the street outside is a wonderful place and let's all go to the sweet shop every day -- that bloke who lives in the rich house on the hill can pay. If a kid points out that there are 500 streets out there and the rich bloke at the top of the hill is unlikely to want to pay for all of them -- and might indeed fuck off to a Caribbean island if we try to make him, well, we can always wheel out Diane Abbott to say that the total cost would only be 6/6d.

For the LibDems, well, a disaster at the moment. No traction. It looks like 80% of the population have shrugged their shoulders over Brexit and said "we might as well get on with it". The UKIP supporters are drifting to Labour or Conservative (even if they came from LibDem in the first place) and the UKIP voters that arrived from Labour appear to be drifting to the Conservatives -- a fundamental shift that probably would not have taken place had UKIP not existed. If the LibDems start shuffling along at 8% and UKIP drops back to 5% (greens on, say, 2%) then we will be close to one of the most binary elections since 1959.

That, however, ignores Scotland which, much as some of would like to, we cannot. The SNP single-party state looks slightly vulnerable to a resurgent and individualistic Scottish Conservative Party. Just as there is a Labour Party in England that is surreptitiously (sometimes not so surreptitiously) anti-Corbyn, it seems plain that the Conservatives in Scotland are campaigning on a distinctly Scottish front. And it is working. On the downside for the SNP there could be a drop to 43 seats or so. More likely, I think, is 49-50 seats, with LibDems taking one and Conservatives taking five or six.

Current prediction is Con 374, Labour 187, LibDem 16, SNP 49, PC 4, Green 1, Speaker 1, NI 18. 

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