Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Final Lingering Thoughts

So now, the end is near in this strangest of election campaigns.  Called six weeks ago but with the air of being conducted in a mad dash – thanks in no small part to the two acts of mass murder by idiot flat earthers.  But before voting commences we have the now traditional last thoughts post.
The shock aftermath of the first post war June election sees Ted Heath win a
30 seat majority, 19 June 1970.  Will we see a similar shock tomorrow?

The Worst Conservative Campaign...  Ever:  Before the campaign started all of the punderatti were confidently predicting 100+ majorities for May & the Tories.  Not anymore as the Tories manifesto pledges went down witht he electorate like a bucket of cold sick.  In truth the polls started moving before the manifesto launch, with voters not liking the repeated catchphrase of “Strong and Stable”.  A phrase we’ve not really heard that much since May junked her flagship policy.

The so called Dementia Tax – the proposal for people to have to sell their homes to fund long term care – caused an immediate reaction among voters and saw the first sudden drop in Conservative support.  May’s unprecedented (and it is – David Butler, the doyen of television psephology said this is the first time he has seen a Prime Minister seeking re-election scrap such a high profile policy) review coupled with May’s car crash interview (yet another unprecedented moment, even if Neil was in second gear) has combined to give the Tories the worst start to an election campaign since...  well Major in 1997 was never this bad.

Since then the haemorrhaging of percentage points has been slow and stable.  The Tories might still win by a landslide, but it won’t be the big stonking majority envisaged by May during her Easter walking trip in Wales.   

Corbyn Has Revived Labour:  In sharp contrast Corbyn’s campaign has not been the unmitigated disaster the Labour ‘moderates’ feared (or secretly hoped for).  He has outperformed May during the Neil Interviews, the Paxman thing and turned up at last week’s BBC debate – besting May’s stand in, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd.  His Manifesto has been better received than many thought and overall his ‘zen’ approach has won over (some) sceptics.

But yet, I don’t expect Corbyn to be kissing hands at some point on Friday.  I rather suspect the damage has been done with voters, in no small thanks to the Progress wingers.  I also think that Scottish Labour’s campaign, of ‘standing up to the SNP’ is embarrassing and will do them more harm than good.  If Scottish voters do start to vote for Labour again and Corbyn somehow finds himself in power, it will be entertaining to see the likes of Murray sit on the backbenches having to suck it up.

UKIP Are History: Last year, we voted in the EU Referendum and voted to leave the EU.  UKIP clearly see themselves as the keeper of the Brexit flame and are marketing themselves as the party to keep Westminster’s “feet to the fire”, to openly steal a line from the aftermath of another referendum.  The voters clearly disagree as polling suggests their vote has tanked.  They might be good for by-elections...  err, maybe not since they haven’t won 1 with their own candidates...  but in election terms, they’re toast.  Where those 4m voters from 2 years ago goes....  hmmm.

Andrew Neil's interview with Prime Minister May, on 22 May, is seen
as the turning point of this election.
Peak ‘Nat’ is Well & Truly Over: I’d said this in the aftermath of the Scottish local elections about 5 weeks ago and this election campaign has provided further proof of this as the SNP have endured their toughest election campaign in some time.

Partly this is down to people beginning to judge the SNP’s performance in Holyrood and shadow project onto Westminster, but I think this is as well a consequence of the SNP’s tactical blunder in the aftermath of the EU Referendum.  A blunder I’ve discussed ad nauseam, but to refresh your memory the claim that the result of the EU referendum is a ‘material change’ to trigger a second Independence referendum has not gone down well polling wise.  This appears to be feeding into this election.

The other reason for this is, I think, because the SNP have not run a particularly great campaign.  Granted, we’ve not seen the fruits of having 56 SNP MP’s at Westminster, however the SNP’s campaign focuses too much on stopping the Tories rather than what the SNP can do.  I also think that having the First Minister as a very visible figurehead at every media event doesn’t really do anything for the public image of the SNP’s MP’s.  There are some very good SNP MP’s, there are some who are iconic, but there are some who are anonymous and they all could do with a lot more public awareness.  My own sitting MP for example, I can’t remember the last time I saw Black being interviewed on television.

The good news for the SNP is that we’re three years (I think) away from the next bloc of elections.  Plenty of time for them to regain their grip on the task of government and to rethink their next steps.  Not to rush into a second referendum having learned no lessons from 2014.  That way lies defeat and First Minister Ruth Davidson...   

Tomorrow then, what will happen?  The polls show that the Tories still lead, but by varying amounts.  I think that Theresa May will still be Prime Minister on Friday, with an overall majority of about 30-40 seats.  This is slightly down on what I thought in mid April.  I give it until lunchtime Friday before we see ‘Dripping Poison’ calling for Corbyn to go.  You’ll maybe see something about this Progressive Alliance party next week. I think the Lib Dem’s will lose seats in England, but will pick up seats here in Scotland & I think the SNP will not lose more than 9 seats.

See you on the other side then.

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