Tuesday, June 06, 2017

With two days to go - what is happening?

The first thing which must be said about this election, again and again, is that


Do I think it likely that Jeremy Corbyn could be Prime Minister on 9th June? Absolutely not.

Do I think it possible that Jeremy Corbyn could be PM on 9th June? Absolutely yes.

As Stephen Bush explains in the New Statesman  here, Labour might be able to put together an administration with Lib/Dem, nationalist and Green support if they can manage a net gain of fifteen or more seats from the Conservatives.

That is well within the range which some polls suggest.

I personally believe that those polls suggesting the Conservatives still have a big enough lead for a reasonable majority (not a landslide) are more likely to be right - but to avoid a Sion Simon moment let me be absolutely clear that I don't think any party can take the support of the British people for granted on Thursday. Not should any wise person imagine they can be certain what the result will be.

Millions of people will vote Labour on Thursday not because they are at all happy with the idea of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister but because they don't want the Conservatives to get a landslide win.

More millions of people - probably a lot more - will vote Conservative on Thursday not because they like the Tories but because they utterly detest the idea of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, John McDonnell as Chancellor, Diane Abbott as Home Secretary and Emily Thornberry as Foreign Secretary.

And they're in good company - the majority of Labour MPs in the last parliament were far from happy with the idea of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, John McDonnell as Chancellor, Diane Abbott as Home Secretary and Emily Thornberry as Foreign Secretary.

That's why Labour MPs voted 172 to 40 in favour of a motion of "No Confidence" in Corbyn's leadership in the party.

I have yet to hear a single one of those MPs successfully reconcile their view that Jeremy Corbyn is not suitable to be leader of their party with asking their constituents to vote that he should be leader of our country. John Woodcock in Barrow at least had the courage to try when he suggested that if re-elected as MP for the area he would not vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, but his position is nonsense - if the electorate send a majority of Labour MPs to Westminster the Queen is constitutionally obliged to invite Jeremy Corbyn to form a government.

Other Labour candidates have been saying words to the effect of "Don't worry about Corbyn because he won't win anyway, just vote for me as your local MP.

Trouble is, Corbyn might just win if enough people fall for that argument.

It does not put Britain in a good place that so many people will be voting because they loathe or feat the party they want to stop rather than liking the party they end up voting for. This is something which needs to be addressed by whoever forms the next government.

But it will still happen.

And my impression based on many, many hours on the doorstep during the almost constant campaigning of the last six months is that the most powerful influence on voting behaviour in Britain today is the strong rejection of Jeremy Corbyn, ranging from a fear that his policies will not work to a visceral loathing, by most voters aged over 30 including many former solidly Labour voters.

Atul Hatwal has a very good analysis of what may be happening and why the polls may be wrong on the  Labour List website here in which he argues that despite Labour's recovery in the polls their canvassers outside London are experiencing a kind of "nuclear winter" on the doorstep.

If Labour canvassers outside London are finding anything like as high a proportion of voters, (including a good number who had previously been Labour voters) who just cannot vote Labour while JC is their leader, as Copeland Conservatives are, then Atul is right.

But none of us know for certain. We will find out on Thursday night!


Jim said...

Cant say i think much of the way this election is being handled, too much of a presitential type campaign. All the conservative leaflets are all about Theresa May, you pretty much have to read the small print to find any mention of the Conservative party.

Its fine by me if Theresa May wants to change the laws and constitution for directly elected PMs, after all its the 3rd demand of Harrogate. Though that should be a directly elected elected PM, who is not an MP.

Chris Whiteside said...

Just deleted a comment because it referred to an opposition candidate in gratuitously insulting terms. First time I've ever felt I had to do that but there's been too much avoidable nastiness in this year's campaigning and I do not want to associate myself with any more of it.

The actual point of the comment I just deleted was that Jeremy Corbyn is not standing in Copeland in this election, Gillian Troughton is, and the anonymous poster asked whether voters not understand that.

My impression was that they understand it perfectly, but also understand that a Labour vote is a vote to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister. We may not have a Presidential system in Britain, but we do have a system in which the constitution effectively means that after an election, if a party has gained a majority in the House of Commons, a PM from any other party has a duty to resign and the Queen has a duty to send for the leader of the majority party and invite him or her to form a government.

Which means that, however much Gillian Troughton or Sue Hayman might possibly wish to get away from this and John Woodcock has openly said that he does, a vote for any of them is a vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.

Chris Whiteside said...


At the time most of our election material went to press Theresa May had some of the best poll ratings of any PM in history and Jeremy Corbyn had some of the worst of any Labour leader in history. She still polls well ahead of him.

I personally prefer a more collegiate style of campaigning myself but party HQ would not have been doing their job had they passed up the opportunity to exploit TM's poll ratings.