London View of #GE2017: Quick thoughts on the latest polls and manifestos…

The poll trends remain good for May and Labour. The Tory strategy to liquidise UKIP and neutralise the Lib Dems could hardly have gone better. They have an average 17 point lead over Labour in all the polls in May.

The perception which has concreted is that they will not just win but do so by a landslide. That still seems the most likely outcome. However their colossal leads have precipitated two unexpected events; a bolder than expected Tory manifesto and a small, but not insignificant, surge for Corbyn.

May’s decision to pull the triple lock on pensions and the tax lock was expected and factored in. Her decision to, in effect, impose a resolution to the social care costs issue is brave and it could still backfire. But her clean Brexit approach provides a clue to her mindset.

She could easily have committed to a social care cost review after the election and no one would have batted an eyelid, just as she could last summer have equivocated on her approach to Brexit.

Two things we now know about this rather taciturn Prime Minister are these; she is uncomfortable with ambiguity and once she makes her mind up on something she sees things through.

This might cost her votes but it will also in all likelihood burnish her reputation for taking hard decisions. The Tory campaign will know this was a risk but feel they have the political space to take it.

Labour threw the kitchen sink at their manifesto. A smorgasbord of renationalising, promises of taxes on the rich to pay for popular new spending pledges: populist leftism, if you like.

Their media launch was shambolic, they didn’t so much as commit a penny to the cost of nationalising power, water and the railways but so far it doesn’t seem to have done them any real harm.

So to the polls

The last few have been particularly good for Corbyn and disastrous for UKIP and the Lib Dems. Corbyn is polling a few points ahead of Brown (2010) and Miliband (2015) but it likely that they are piling up votes where he doesn’t need them and losing them where Labour has majorities of less than 10,000.

The numbers in the West Midlands and the North East are particularly bad for Labour right now. 

But they haven’t imploded and Labour voters, for all their concerns about Corbyn, may well be responding to the independent local Labour campaigns being run by incumbents and a fear of a Tory landslide.

Corbyn is relishing this campaign and he is attracting new voters as he promised he would. But his vote remains soft compared to the Tories and his numbers right now are likely to be inflated by 18-24 year-olds who are the most likely not to turn out on 8 June.

The Tories will for the remainder of this campaign focus on their key strengths. They have historically unprecedented leads on leadership and the economy and will, particularly in the context of Brexit, leverage them relentlessly.

The final weeks of this campaign will mostly be about who will lead the negotiations with the EU. An indicator of how surreal and one-sided the election has been that no one has really asked Corbyn whether he would pay the divorce bill or pressed him much on his immigration policy.

Expect that to change

May has skilfully used this opportunity to jettison the fiscal and philosophical constraints of Cameron/Osborne’s 2015 manifesto, to produce some red meat policies for working class Leavers on immigration and to convey a renewed ‘One Nation’ Toryism but this is still the Brexit election.

The easiest way of envisaging the trajectory of the next few weeks is to imagine Corbyn not May at the helm of our Brexit negotiations. The Tory campaign will want nobody to have that on their minds three weeks from now.

Everything still points to a seminal Tory landslide, the return of two-party politics and, once more, Labour Party summer civil war

  • chrisjones2

    Ashcroft is due to publish a very detailed constituency forecast today. It should be harrowing for theShadow Cabinet and interesting for the rest of us

  • Skibo

    The thing I cannot understand with the electioneering so far is the small crowds that are seen for the Theresa May public appearances and the massive crowds that follow Corbyn.
    So far Theresa has managed to empty factories for visits and bus in her placard waving members. Se was caught out in one particular visit where the news showed a massive crowd standing at the side of the bus for her speech but a bystander took a wider photo that showed it was probably a maximum of 30 people there if that!
    Will the electorate continue to be hoodwinked and why are the TV news programmes allowing for this obvious bending of the truth?

  • hgreen

    It’s quite easy to understand the small crowds for Teasy. Her daily mail handlers know she doesn’t have the skills or personality to think on her feet so she’s kept in secure environments.

  • You tend to find that activism is a much more popular pastime if you are left wing. It has always been the case that the labour party turns out these big rallies and it has no correlation to the voting intentions of the public. It is also the case that left wing activists can descend on a tory party event in a public space very quickly.

    By contrast, most people who vote tory turn up and do it on election day, and then go home again. They don’t go to rallies and protest marches. So I would infer the grand sum of zero from how the campaign visits are attended.

    The Scottish independence referendum was a very good lesson on this point. There were yes placards in half the windows in the country, and street stalls on every street corner. You would have got the impression that it was going to be a landslide yes vote, and that never materialised. Again, the left wing, politically active people jumped behind that cause, and the so called “silent majority” just went about their daily business.

  • chrisjones2

    Lord Ashcroft has published revised and detailed Constituency by Constituency polls on opinions and a forecast of outturn

    Forecast is

    Conservatives to have between 406 and 415 seats with an overall Majority of between 162 and 180

    Labour to have between 152 and 164 seats ie less seats than the Tories have as an overall majority!

    Lib Dems to have 10 to 14 ie a few more than 2015

    Nats to have 45 to 48 a significant drop and resurgence of the Conservatives

    This will leave Labour utterly paralysed with Corbyn clinging on claiming it wasn’t as bad as it might have been. The infighting will then begin

  • Zorin001
  • Abucs

    If those projections hold up, it will be interesting to see which new direction the Labour Party might follow after the election. Or perhaps the strategy will be to hope people tire of the Tories at some point.

  • chrisjones2

    Well Labour currently have 232 seats and are forecast to lose say 70 of those (about 1/3 of all their seats). That is an utter disaster for them so I am not sure how Steve sees this as positive for them