Are Boris Johnson’s Conservatives on course for a big majority or could something unexpected by on the cards? Harry Mottram has been predicting elections since 1974 and believes he has the answer (or does he?)
The opinion polls show the Conservatives are comfortably ahead with the prediction that they will have an overall majority on December 13 once counting is complete.
That’s the received wisdom. However the electoral system in this country doesn’t work like that. In 1974 Ted Heath’s Tories recieved more votes but fewer MPs that Labour’s Harold Wilson. The first past the post system has many advantages but it can lead to a very unrepresentative result. The Lib Dems can pile up millions of votes but only have a handful of seats while the Scottish Nationalist Party with a much smaller amount of votes have a large number of MPs.
The latest odds from bookmakers William Hill show a Conservative Majority most likely at 4/9, with a No Overall Majority at 7/4, followed by a Labour majority at 25/1. Bookmakers put their money where their mouth is in general but they also like to tempt punters to place bets on favourites knowing full well that favourites don’t always win.
For the Conservatives to win the election they need to win more seats or contituencies and to not lose any. To get 20 or more will see them back in power but as they look around the UK it is hard to see where those new Tory MPs will come from.
Turning votes into seats
They could well win some of the seats lost to defectors to the Independents and the Lib Dems, but they could also lose some to the Lib Dems as well and also some in Scotland after the popular Conservative Ruth Davidson stood down due to her frustration with Boris Johnson’s policies and a desire for a quieter life.
They’ve kicked out several MPs from the party and have lost the support ot the DUP which means they need to win a score of seats from Labour.
And that’s where the problems lies. The Brexit Party is standing in those Labour seats which will take some of those votes. The Brexit Party won’t win any seats but they will take votes off the Tories. The Conservatives will do well to take a small number of seats from the Labour Party but it is quite possible the Labour Party will cause a surprise and take some marginal Conservative seats. Essentially they will cancel each other out.
In Scotland the only loser will be the Conservatives with the SNP and the Labour Party cleaning up leaving the question: where are these extra Tory MPs? Their vote will go up in many areas, but the first past the post system doesn’t mean you get more seats. Ask the Lib Dems, UKIP and the Green Party.
And so based on these factors it would seem possible that Labour could end up gaining seats and the Tories losing a small number leaving the Labour Party in a position to form the next Government. It’s a bit like 1974 all over again when Labour stunned the pollsters.
We are unreliable human beings
Take this example. You need to pick up some milk on the way home. You go into a shop but come away with everything but milk once you see all the special offers. As humans we constantly say what we are going to do but then do the opposite. Give up smoking, lose weight, change career to give some examples. And it’s the same with voting. We go into that booth to put our cross against a name but strangely we either can’t be bothered to vote or we vote for a different candidate thinking it won’t make a difference.
How wrong can we all be?
In general people vote for what’s in their own interest and in particular what’s best for their financial being. They may rave about the Europena superstate, the loony left or the alt right wingers. But in private they will look at the promises of the two main parties. More houses, lower rents, no tuition fees, more NHS nurses given bursaries, jobs for the police and for teaching – and all those jobs in the privatised utilites. All on good salaries compared to the scandal of zero wage contracts and minimal wages. You can see my drift.
Jobs not Brexit
Back in 2017, Theresa May’s Strong and stable mantra became a joke and the voters turned against her. In 2019 Boris Johnson’s mantra is Let’s Get Brexit Done. It’s already sounding overdone. People are asking about jobs, pay rates and pensions rather than more wrangling over Brexit. And that’s Boris Johnson’s problem. If the election was back in July he would have won it. The longer it goes on the less chance he has as Labour have outbid his promises on the election trail.
And so here you go with my predictions:
Now 12 Dec
Conservatives: 298 284
Labour: 243 285
Scottish National Party: 35 43
Independent: 24 8
Liberal Democrats: 20 22
Democratic Unionist Party 10 9
Sinn Féin: 7 7
SDLP 0 1
Independent Group: 5 1
Plaid Cymru: 4 5
Green Party: 1 1
Speaker: 1 1
Vacant: 2 0
Total: 650 650
If you were going with the odds and the pollsters then the Conservatives would have around 340 and Labour back on somewhere like 205. That would lead to Brexit happening on around January 31 and Labour electing a new leader in 2020. All is possible but we must wait and see.
John Major confounded the pollsters in the early 90s, as did Ted Heath in 1970 and famously Jeremy Corbyn in 2017 – although he lost. Could it be second time lucky?
This is not a wish or a desire to see Labour back in power because as things stand based on this scenario they would have to work with the other parties to get things done. So many of those election promises would be shelved and of course Brexit would not happen on January 31, 2020. It would mean the possibility of a second referendum if everyone could agree on the question and wait for it: another general election next year.
For more visit www.harrymottram.co.uk
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