UK election minus five weeks, US state elections and Spain

The Conservatives have a large lead in the UK polls, but there is still hope for Labour. Also: US state election results and Spain’s second election this year on Sunday. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at The University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

In polls taken since the House of Commons voted on October 29 for a December 12 election, the Conservatives have led Labour by seven to 16 points, and would be likely to win an election “held now” with a majority. The good news for Labour is that they are now a clear second, with the Liberal Democrats a distant third.

This will assist in the argument that if Remain voters want to stop Boris Johnson’s Brexit, they will need to vote Labour in the vast majority of English and Welsh seats. The Lib Dems are likely to be “squeezed”; in first-past-the-post, minor parties can lose votes to major parties to keep the other major party out. Labour’s Brexit policy is for a referendum between Remain and a Labour-negotiated deal, which many Remainers have campaigned for.

Even if Labour wins a large share of the Remain vote, they still need to grab votes directly from the Conservatives to be in an election-winning position.  Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing policies are unlikely to appeal as much as in 2017 owing to better economic conditions: 2.0% real wage growth now, versus -0.5% in May 2017.

In my opinion, Labour’s best chance to take votes from the Conservatives is a scare campaign against Johnson’s deal. The National Health Service (NHS), which Labour created in 1948, will be the focus of this campaign. In June, the US’s UK ambassador said the NHS would be “on the table” in a post-Brexit US/UK trade deal. US pharmaceutical companies would like access to the NHS. A hard Brexit would require the UK to negotiate its own trade deals, but other countries would be likely to extract as much as they could from the UK’s weakened position.

On October 31, Donald Trump said Johnson’s Brexit deal could rule out a US/UK trade deal. He also said Corbyn would be “so bad for your country”.  Trump denied wanting to grab the NHS, but he is somewhat untrustworthy. While British opinion is closely divided on Brexit, 67% have a negative view of Trump and just 19% a positive view. Trump’s negative endorsement could assist Corbyn.

On November 1, Nigel Farage said the Brexit Party would run candidates in all 650 Commons seats unless Johnson drops his Brexit deal, which he almost certainly won’t do. The Conservatives have already squeezed the Brexit Party down to around 10%, and at least some of the hold-outs will be people who won’t vote Conservative.

Democrats perform better than expected at US state elections

At US state elections held November 5, Democrats won the Kentucky governor race by 49.2-48.8. Kentucky is a very white, rural, Trumpian state. Republicans won the Mississippi governor by 52.1-46.6. In Virginia, Democrats gained control of both chambers of the state legislature, the House by 55-45 and the Senate by 21-19. Democrats easily held the New Jersey legislature. Also of note: a New York City referendum introduced Australian-style preferential voting by 73.5-26.5.

I wrote for The Conversation Wednesday that a Siena poll of battleground states implies that Trump could be re-elected despite losing the popular vote, as occurred in 2016. The US economy is still performing well. Joe Biden has retaken the Democratic primary lead from Elizabeth Warren.

Spain: left parties’ failure to form government gives right a chance at new election

I covered the April Spanish election here. The centre-left Socialists and far-left Podemos were short of a majority, but appeared to have the numbers to form government with left-wing separatists abstaining. But in July, as covered on my personal website, Podemos abstained from a confidence vote, and the vote was lost. No agreement was reached by the September 23 deadline, and so there will be a second 2019 Spanish election this Sunday.

Spain uses proportional representation by region, which assists bigger parties. Polling suggests that national right to far-right parties (People’s, Citizens and Vox) have a realistic chance of winning more votes and seats than national left-wing parties (Socialists, Podemos and the new Más País). It is unlikely either side will reach the 176 seats required for a majority, with separatists holding the balance of power. This new election is likely to put the Socialists in a worse position than after April.

54 comments on “UK election minus five weeks, US state elections and Spain”

Comments Page 1 of 2
1 2
  1. “His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.”


    FYI the links are missing from this sentence 🙂

  2. AB

    ‘This will assist in the argument that if Remain voters want to stop Boris Johnson’s Brexit, they will need to vote Labour in the vast majority of English and Welsh seats.’

    If Remain voters want to prioritize Remain they would have to vote Lib Dem or SNP.

    If Remain voters want to choose their Brexit poison as their first priority they can vote for the Tories or for Labour.

    Brexit is Brexit is Brexit.

  3. I believe that the Labour Party will profit a fair bit, from their campaign on the NHS, which has shades of the Mediscare campaign back in Australia’s 2016 election. Also the Labour Party have a literal army of hundreds of thousands, who will be out in the general community actively campaigning for the party.

    I have noticed in Britain, the press lives in what is termed the ‘Westminster Bubble’, which is like our media existing in the ‘Canberra Model’. That is why our media did not anticipate the Coalition geting re-elected and increasing their number of seats. So I believe Labour are going to do much better at the General election than those living in the ‘Westminster Bubble’.

  4. Firefox, thanks, and I’ve fixed that.

    Another YouGov poll (are they daily now?) has the Tories down two, though still with an 11 pt lead.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 36% (-2)
    LAB: 25 (-)
    LDEM: 17% (+1)
    BREX: 11% (-)

    via @YouGov, 05 – 06 Nov
    Chgs. w/ 04 Nov

  5. Seat polls in two Lib Dem targets have the LDs surging and the Tories well down.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Wokingham, constituency voting intention:

    CON: 42% (-15)
    LDEM: 38% (+22)
    LAB: 12% (-13)
    BREX: 5% (+5)
    GRN: 3% (+1)

    via @Survation, 01 – 04 Nov
    Chgs. w/ GE2017 result

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    South Cambridgeshire, constituency voting intention:

    LDEM: 40% (+21)
    CON: 36% (-16)
    LAB: 12% (-15)
    BREX: 7% (+7)
    GRN: 4% (+2)

    via @Survation, 04 – 05 Nov
    Chgs. w/ GE2017 result

  6. @Watson Watch

    Nope, it was an ALP one and a very effective one as well, I argue it help considerably winning them seats such as Dobell, Lindsay, Longman, Bass, Braddon, Burt, Herbert, Macarthur, and considerable swings to Labor in similar seats did not win.

    Therefore; I reckon the British Labour Party’s campaign on a Tory Brexit wrecking the NHS, will help to shore up the vote in seats in the Midlands and the North which voted strongly Leave in 2016. Especially that Labour is promising to firstly negotiate a deal with the EU and then putting it to a referendum. Therefore; these people are going to choose Labour’s proposed Brexit deal over that of Boris Johnson’s, that they will see will wreck the NHS.

    Although in the South in strongly Remain voting seats, Labour could face a substantial challenge from the Liberal Democrats, which opinion polls published in constituencies in these regions is showing. However the Tories are facing a challenge from the Liberal Democrats as well.

    Combine these dynamics with Labour’s massive grassroots campaign with hundreds of thousands. I am entertaining an another hung parliament, with Labour maybe ending up as the largest party.

  7. Those seat-level polls create a dilemma for any strategic voters wanting to defeat the Tories. Do they vote for the non-Conservative party which was clearly best placed last time, or do they trust the opinion polls and go with the one that seems to be in front now?

  8. Tristo,
    Thanks for the reply – it is much appreciated.

    Are you able to provide me with a link to an ALP Mediscare policy document or speech or advertisement?

    I followed the ALP campaign fairly closely in 2016. I don’t recall seeing or hearing or reading about any ALP Mediscare policy.

  9. Tristosays:
    Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 11:24 am

    So you support both Labor and Labour telling complete lies in order to get elected?

  10. Watson Watchsays:
    Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 11:57 am

    You either weren’t paying close attention or you are being deliberately obtuse: :

    “Election 2016: ‘Mediscare’ and other tactics from the Labor campaign handbook”

    “The final 72 hours of the election campaign were crucial for Labor.

    When the party released its costings showing a growing deficit, many wrote it off.

    Perhaps to counter that, Labor ramped up its Medicare messaging and hit the key battlegrounds once more.

    Former NSW Liberal leader Peter Collins lives in the crucial seat of Lindsay in Sydney’s west. The Liberal party won the seat in 2013 but lost it to Labor this time around.

    “It’s all about perception and what Labor aimed to do and I think did successfully in Lindsay at least and I suspect in other marginal seats was to take a broad national issue — the Medicare scare — and to localise it and say this affects your local hospital,” he said.

    “They got the scare going and they were successful in localising in marginal seats like Lindsay.”

    Despite the Coalition’s continued rejection of the Medicare rumours, Labor’s message was unrelenting.”

  11. Ante Meridian,

    Thanks for the explanation.
    I get it now. Mediscare was the Liberal Party’s Medicare Co-payment scheme.

    Hardly an ALP scare campaign. It was announced in a Liberal Party budget speech to Parliament, was included in the budget papers, and the legislation was presented to Parliament. The policy was widely covered in the media for two years prior to the 2016 election.

  12. Bucephalus,
    I get it. All Liberal Party policies that are announced, or introduced to parliament as legislation without being previously announced, are called ALP scare campaigns.

    BTW – this is a UK thread, so any further comments I make about Australian Politics or Liberal Party Fiction will be in the other thread.

  13. So, getting back on topic…

    Although Brexit should be sorted out one way or the other in the next few months (we hope), the voters of the UK will be stuck with whatever government they elect for the next five years. A lot of damage can be done in five years.

    That could prove to be a real dilemma for some people who are passionate about their Brexit opinion but equally passionate about not giving half a decade of power to people they hate.

  14. AM, might be a bit technical, but the next term of govt will be until May 2024, so more like 4.5 years than five. An early election resets the FTPA so it assumes the previous parliament started in May 2019.

  15. Mediscare was in response to the coalition setting up a taskforce to investigate the outsourcing of the medicare call centre. Labor’s campaign was a ‘slippery slope’ argument – today the call centre, tomorrow the whole of medicare.

    Anyway, back on topic…

    BC: “So you support both Labor and Labour telling complete lies in order to get elected?”

    I saw a recent poll in which something like 16% of Brits thought that the NHS would be safe under the tories. So I reckon a labour scare campaign on the NHS would have some legs.

    But in fact labour’s warning about the NHS are absolutely on solid ground. That the US want to negotiate on drug subsidies and so forth, is not mere speculative scaremongering – it is a matter of public record. Boris can promise until he is blue in the face that the NHS is non-negotiable – but it won’t change the fact that the US want it on the table. And guess who is the bigger, more powerful economy – and therefore has the most bargaining power? Blind Freddy can see that the NHS will be in grave danger during post-brexit US-UK free trade negotiations. About the only thing UK government could do to save their hide is to give the inevitable attack on the NHS another name and pretend its something else.

  16. Labour achieving more seats than the Tories is incredibly fanciful. Labour losing 80 seats to the Tories i hope is equally fanciful.

    Tories start -20 or so just on losses to SNP and Lib Dems. They need to net gain 30 seats off Labour to form a majority… this is the battle.

    I don’t care how many seats transfer between LD, SNP and Labour. The only thing that matters is a Tory majority or not…

    Couple of encouraging seat polls showing Lib Dems able to perhaps win a few more Tory seats but i havent seen any marginal Labour / Tory seat polling. So we’re flying totally blind… the national polling does suggest a number of Tory pickups though.

  17. Labour’s Deputy Leader has resigned and another Labour MP has resigned and urged a vote for Boris.
    Can it get any worse for UK Labour.

  18. There are 650 seats in the Commons. It’s reasonable to suppose the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Northern Ireland seats, the Lib-Dems and a few Independent voices will win about 100 seats….all hard-core Remainers, fortified by electoral support. This will mean the Tories will have to win at least 325 of 550 seats to win a majority, which they will certainly need if they are to secure Brexit. Labour could win no more than about 225. Farage’s Party is running all over the country. The Tories will need to increase their representation compared with the current Parliament. They are likely to be able to do this, though it’s not a foregone conclusion.

    Labour have 242 members of the Commons at present. The Tories have 298. There would appear to be no chance whatsoever that Labour could take enough seats from the Tories to get themselves into an election-winning position, even with the support of the SNP. This would require a significant swing to Labour, something that is not consistent with any recent polling, and in particular that conflicts with Corbyn’s negative net-sat scores. The Tories hill is smaller. They need to take enough seats from Labour to overcome their existing minority and to cover any losses in Scotland and to the Lib-Dems. Maybe they will need to win about 50 seats from Labour. The odds have to favour the Tories……

    Voters are not only choosing whether or not to ratify Brexit. They are choosing a Government. They will be able to do both by voting Tory. There must be a very high likelihood this will happen and that Labour will be buried under a Tory landslide. The UK electorate – especially the England and Wales electorate – will rally to the Right at a time of upheaval, deadlock and uncertainty. The Right will then fuck the place up entirely.

  19. From The Australian:

    A former Labour minister and two other senior Labour figures have urged voters to back Boris Johnson, hours after the party’s deputy leader resigned and stood down as an MP.

    Former minister Ian Austin told Labour supporters: “I’m not a Tory” but said “decent, traditional voters” should back Mr Johnson’s party because “Jeremy Corbyn is totally unfit to lead this country.”

    He added that Labour’s economic policies “would leave the country worse off.”

    The shock intervention by Mr Austin, the former Minister for the West Midlands was followed by two other former Labour MPs who said they would be “happier” with a Boris Johnson government.

    John Woodcock, who announced he would not stand in the general election, said: “The choice to keep Jeremy Corbyn away from Downing Street, to stop him getting his hands on the levers of national security and defence has to be to vote Conservative in this election and that’s what I’ll be doing as well.”

    Former Labour shadow minister Tom Harris said: “Like Ian Austin I will be far happier with a Boris Johnson government.”

    Britain’s biggest Jewish newspaper also pleaded with the public not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of having “allied with an supported antisemites.”

    In a front-page editorial, the Jewish Chronicle highlighted a poll which found that nearly half of the Jewish community said they would seriously consider emigrating if Mr Corbyn became prime minister.

  20. I suspect the anti-semitism “scandal” is just another London bubble non-issue that will have about zero impact on the election result.

  21. The best result for the UK is for Labour to lose enough seats to force Corbyn from the leadership, but not in such a way that a Tory majority happens. That combination is unlikely unless the Lib Dems have an amazing election picking up a bunch of Tory seats (this is unlikely unless Lab stand aside).

    A minority Tory govt with zero opposition support is prob less harmful a combo than some Corbyn-SNP deal.

    Corbyn makes Hilary look like an outstanding leadership candidate. But if he has any brains he would be working a non-compete deal with the Lib Dems across key seats. Swinson also strikes me as pretty daft, its a really poor triumverate at the helm… but all favours Boris.

  22. Yougov has released Regional UK regional voting intentions.

    Fieldwork from 17 October- 4 November.

    Showing the two major parties down everywhere on 2017 election figures with the Labour Party particularly hit hard.

  23. YouGov expresses the results as Conservative lead over Labour of 10%.

    It also shows a SNP lead over Conservative of 20% and over Labour by 30%.

  24. Despite all the bad news for Labour over the last few days, their vote is up 1% in Panelbase. I don’t think most voters care about what Ian Austin and John Woodcock say – they left Labour long before the election. And for those complaining about Corbyn’s hopelessness, he got 40% of the popular vote in 2017.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 40% (-)
    LAB: 30% (+1)
    LDEM: 15% (+1)
    BREX: 8% (-1)
    GRN: 3% (-)

    via @Panelbase, 06 – 08 Nov
    Chgs. w/ 31 Oct

  25. A couple of seat polls, including one Labour-Tory contest. That suggests both parties have fallen, but Labour leads by 5 in a seat they won by 9 in 2017.

    Britain Elects@britainelects
    8 Nov
    Gedling, constituency voting intention:

    LAB: 42% (-10)
    CON: 37% (-6)
    BREX: 13% (+13)
    LDEM: 6% (+4)
    GRN: 1% (-)

    via @Survation, 04 Nov
    Chgs. w/ GE2017 result

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    7 Nov
    Esher & Walton, constituency voting intention:

    CON: 45% (-14)
    LDEM: 36% (+19)
    LAB: 11% (-9)
    BREX: 4% (+4)
    GRN: 3% (+1)

    via @Survation, 30 Oct – 04 Nov
    Chgs. w/ GE2017 result

  26. Two UK polls out so far today; more perhaps by 11am (midnight their time). Both polls give the Tories a 12-pt lead, but note the collapse in Brexit party support. That means Tories plus Brexit down from 51% to 47% in both polls.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 41% (+1)
    LAB: 29% (+1)
    LDEM: 16% (+2)
    BREX: 6% (-5)

    via @DeltapollUK
    Chgs. w/ 02 Nov

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 41% (-1)
    LAB: 29% (+3)
    LDEM: 15% (-1)
    BREX: 6% (-3)
    GRN: 2% (-)

    via @OpiniumResearch, 06 – 08 Nov
    Chgs. w/ 01 Nov

  27. YouGov nearly always has the worst Labour vote share.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 39% (+3)
    LAB: 26% (+1)
    LDEM: 17% (-)
    BREX: 10% (-1)

    via @YouGov, 07 – 08 Nov
    Chgs. w/ 06 Nov

  28. ive never worked out exactly how polling in non-compulsory democracies work, in terms of accounting for the people who won’t be voting. Do they filter out the non-voters first, or is there a separate column in the results denoting those who answered ‘i wont be voting’, or alternatively do they simply ask everyone ‘if hypothetically you will vote…’?

  29. Spain result is 158 left seats to 149 right, both well short of the 176 needed for a majority. Can the Socialists and Podemos work together this time? Write-up here by tomorrow along with the UK latest polls.

  30. In Bolivia, the left-wing president, who has held that office since 2005, resigned after serious irregularities were found in an October 20 vote that supposedly had him winning by over 10%, enough to avoid a runoff. See my personal website for more.

  31. Morales was often portrayed as one of the good guys of the socialist mob in South America. A genuine man of the people, not cynical and divisive like Chavez. He was famous for living in a very common and modest house. Im not sure what happened with this election “irregularity”, but corruption isnt consistent with his character (or at least the one that was prominent in the media)

Comments Page 1 of 2
1 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *