Thursday, 20 April 2017

Oh, an election, is it? Some random thinks.

So ...

  • Theresa "I won't call a snap election" May calls a snap election.
  • The CPS has indicated up to 30 individuals (including MPs) may be charged with breaches of election expenses laws.

Could these two things be at all related?

Because otherwise May's decision makes no sense to me. She has a majority. She is doing well in the polls and popular. There was an election just two years ago, and a referendum. The boundary changes have not yet gone through.

An early election only makes sense if she is anticipating a major crisis - either substantial charges being laid around the 2015 election, or some massive economic upheaval. Because the annihilation of Labour in 2017 will probably mean the end of Corbyn and his replacement with someone who might (big might, given the talent pool) appeal more to floating voters.

And 2022 is a long way away, and if the parliament elected in 2017 runs its course, the Conservatives will have been in power for 12 years. So even if she manages to see off Labour in 2017, she may have brought forward Labour's return to power closer by a term or two.

But, feck me, these Tories are cynical. Theresa May has been adamant about not calling an early election (inspite of ticking off Gordon Brown back in the day for being un unelected PM). then she decides she needs to have one after all. Because she needs a mandate to be able to give the country "Strong and stable leadership" - a banal phrase she used about 5000 times in her first attempt at an electioneering speech.

Talk is cheap; actions speak louder than words. The soundbite of the nascent Tory campaign may be "Strong and stable leadership." But how does "No election until 2020 ... oops, I've changed my mind" equate to stability?  Or a chancellor who abandon's a key part of his budget about five minutes after he's finished his speech? And how can a leader forced to go to the country three years early, because she can't manage her MPs, claim to be strong?

Someone needs to give Theresa May a dictionary so she can look up what the words she is saying mean.

With regards to the outcome, the problem with FPTP is that there is very little correlation between votes cast and seats won at a national level.  Majorities of seats are won on pluralities of the vote.

It's hard to see the Conservatives losing, but maybe Corbyn has authentic video footage of Theresa May beheading kittens or something. Equally, I can't envisage the Tories winning a majority of a hundred, in spite of what the polls say. They just don't feel right to me. It's entirely gut based but I suspect the pollsters have over compensated for 2015's screw up.

I think Labour will hang on to a lot more than people realise. Remember, Labour DOOM was predicted at the local elections last year, and failed to materialise. It might, but I think they will hold onto about 220 seats.

It is also important to remember that the result in 1983 was distorted by a split in the left vote - Labour + SDP/Liberal Alliance polled more than the Conservatives, but as they were often stealing votes from each other, they were both thrashed. There isn't that factor as the Blairites have (thankfully) not gone nuclear and split. So the Tories will need a much bigger swing to produce anything like a 1983 result.

I think the Lib Dems will enjoy a bit of a renaissance. They had 50+ seats up until the 2015 election and will be eyeing them again. As the official anti-Brexit party, they can expect to draw a lot of support from Remainers of all sides.

Scotland will more or less stay the same. The SNP may lose a couple of seats and the the Tories and Lib Dems pick up a couple there.

The problem for the Tories is that for every seat the Lib Dems win back (assuming they win any back!), the Tories need to take one somewhere else.

If Labour is a bit more robust than expected, suddenly increasing May's majority becomes very difficult. If Labour cling on to 220 seats, and the Lib Dems reach 20, suddenly May may even be looking at a REDUCED majority.

I can't imagine that happening, but unless Labour go into a meltdown and the Lib Dems don't surge, it is hard to see how she can make significant gains.

So, some predictions (Bearing in mind I got the 2015 election completely, utterly wrong):

  • Conservative - 345 ... Well done, Tessa, you put us through that, for a few extra seats. LOSER.
  • Labour 215 - This leaves Corbyn in a precarious position. He's avoided the apocalypse, but has lost a lot of seats. He'll hold on to get the leadership election changes passed at conference, and then step down in 2018, which was pretty much the plan all along. WINNER, surprisingly.
  • Lib Dems - 20. Just enough to stoke talk of a revival, but not enough to actually be one. SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WINNERS AND LOSERS, appropriately.
  • SNP - 50. They maintain ther stranglehold on Scotland, but the support for independence is clearly ebbing. PHRRYIC VICTORS, again appropriately. Us Scots don't do outright victory.
  • Ireland and others - 20.

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