Thursday, 5 December 2019

This General Election Is in Danger of Ending With a Whimper, Not a Bang


Exactly a week from now the polls will be open and the British people will have their opportunity to vote for a candidate who stands for Britain, and British independence, or any number of candidates who prefer it that the country remains a province of Brussels. The country should be in a state of flux as people argue the case for or against Brussels and its status quo with the candidates and each other.

Except that is not happening. Nothing seems to be happening ever since YouGov produced a major poll for the Times of the type that had correctly predicted the last general election in 2017. Last week's poll put the Tories on target to win 369 seats, Labour to get 211 and the Lib-Dems 13. Even with the SNP grabbing 45 seats there would be no way on those figures for the opposition to cobble together and anti-Brexit chaotic coalition as Boris would be home, dry and with a good majority.

Labour realised that it was in grave danger of losing seats in its Northern and Midlands heartlands as Brexit voters switched to the Conservatives, not The Brexit Party, which Labour had fondly imagined would happen. So Labour adopted a defensive strategy and threw resources into defending the seats that it already held rather than taking them for granted and trying to win new ones. The Lib-Dems did the same, with even more urgency as they woke up to realise that they could lose Jo Swinson's seat in Scotland. Losing a couple of backbenchers is one thing, but seeing your leader go down the electoral pan is quite another.

The Tories then seemed to have decided that they will concentrate on their target seats and accept a smallish majority. This is a high-risk game as Labour lead the Tories by quite a large margin in London where the Tories have 21 seats at stake. If Tory gains in the rest of the country are not as good as the party expects and if Labour makes inroads in London then we could be back to a tiny majority for Boris or even no majority at all.

For the Brexiteers this is not actually as bad as it sounds. The law is clear that we leave the EU on 31st January 2020 unless the government pleads for another extension. If Boris has no majority to speak of but can hold his nerve, then we can crash out at the end of January and he can blame any disruption on the opposition and demand that they then start to support his emergency summits with EU leaders to calm down the troubled waters. 

Once we are out, we are out and there is no going back other than to apply to Brussels to join as a new member. That is a long and complicated process and one that no Tory government would even consider. If Labour did then they would certainly run the risk of losing seats in the Brexit supporting parts of the country and the Lid-Dems are probably going to have to elect a new leader for what remains of their party.

That said, I would prefer it that we left with the withdrawal agreement that Boris negotiated just a few weeks ago and had a period of rest and relaxation as the government negotiates a final settlement with the EU. For that to happen, Boris needs to be returned with at least 330 seats and the closer it gets to 350 the happier and more relaxed I will be. If we are unhappy with the final agreement then a government with a small majority can be easily voted out at the next general election, so let's hope that Boris gets around the 330-350 mark.

For that to happen, the Tories need to up their game in the final week of campaigning to enthuse the Brexiteers to turn out mob-handed to ensure that we leave the EU, with minimal disruption, next month.

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