UK election minus three weeks

The Conservatives extend their large poll lead — and do the Liberal Democrats want to stop Brexit, or stop Corbyn? Also featured: Spain, Israel, Louisiana and Sri Lanka. 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.

There were six UK national polls released last weekend. Four gave the Conservatives 13 to 17 point leads over Labour, with a Conservative vote in the mid 40s and a Conservative-plus-Brexit Party vote at 48-51%. The remaining two polls were better for Labour, but still had the Conservatives eight points ahead. It’s looking like a Conservative landslide on December 12.

My opinion of what has gone wrong for Labour is that the average voter doesn’t like politics, but there has been far too much front-page politics in the last year, which has been blamed on the 2017 election’s hung parliament – see this Guardian article by a BritainThinks founding partner.

Kevin Bonham has discussed the Tasmanian “bandwagon” effect, in which undecided voters go to the major party most likely to win a majority to keep the Greens from holding the balance of power. So UK voters may be moving to the Conservatives to prevent another hung parliament. Also, Labour’s left-wing proposals are exciting when most voters want politics to return to being boring.

On November 14, Labour announced a policy to make broadband free, paid for by a greater tax on tech giants. It would involve part-nationalisation. I think this is an attempt by Labour to increase youth turnout and win back voters who have turned to the Lib Dems over dislike for Labour’s Brexit policies.

There will be several TV debates, with the first one on Tuesday at 8pm UK time (Wednesday 7am AEDT). This debate will feature Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn head to head. The main risk for Johnson is that Corbyn can use this debate to consolidate the votes of those opposed to Johnson’s deal behind Labour.

Lib Dems: do they want to stop Brexit or stop Corbyn?

On November 12, Liberal Democrat candidate Tim Walker withdrew from Canterbury. In 2017, pro-Remain Labour candidate Rosie Duffield won Canterbury by just a 45.0% to 44.7% margin over the Conservatives, with 8.0% for the Lib Dems. However, the Liberal Democrats nominated a replacement candidate by the November 14 close of nominations. On November 5, party leader Jo Swinson said she was “absolutely categorically ruling out” Corbyn becoming PM via Lib Dem votes.

Commentator Stephen Bush says the Lib Dems are attempting to appeal to affluent voters in the south, who dislike both Brexit and Labour. I have two issues with this strategy. First, better-educated voters globally are more likely to swing to the left, so Labour may not be such a negative with these voters. If the Lib Dems won’t assist Corbyn, what is their plan to stop Brexit given they will win far fewer seats than Labour?

My second issue is that there are still some natural Labour voters in the southern seats the Lib Dems are targeting. The Lib Dems need these Labour supporters to tactically vote Lib Dem. But if Labour voters see it as a contest between “Blue Tories” and “Yellow Tories”, will they move to the Lib Dems?

Election updates: Spain, Israel, Louisiana and Sri Lanka

On November 12 – two days after the second 2019 Spanish election – the leaders of the centre-left Socialists and far-left Podemos reached a tentative deal to form a government. The two parties have 155 of the 350 lower house seats. A small leftist party would bring the left total to 158, but the stability of the government will depend on mostly leftist regional parties, which won 42 seats. Right-wing parties combined won 150 seats.

In Isreal, left-leaning Blue & White leader Benny Gantz has until Wednesday to form a government. If he fails, Israel likely faces its third election in a year.

At Saturday’s US Louisiana state election, the Democrats held the governorship by a 51.3-48.7 margin. Louisiana is normally a strong Republican state. Democrats won the highest office in four of five state elections this November.

At Saturday’s Sri Lankan presidential election, the right-wing Gotabaya Rajapaksa defeated his liberal opponent by a 52.3-42.0 margin. Rajapaksa is the brother of a former authoritarian president.

66 comments on “UK election minus three weeks”

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  1. Finally, here’s a seat model (like YouGov did in 2017) that predicts a Tory majority of 48. The Lib Dems won 12 seats at the last election on 7.4%; they’re only seen as winning 14 despite a vote share about 15%.

    Britain Elects Retweeted
    Tim Shipman @ShippersUnbound
    BREAKING: First big election model seat projection predicts Tory majority of 48

    Con 349
    Lab 213
    LD 14
    SNP 49
    Plaid 5
    Green 1
    Speaker 1

    Datapraxis ran 270,000 YouGov interviews through their own predictive MRP model (like the ones that predicted the last election)

  2. First Scottish poll from Panelbase.

    Scottish voting intentions for UK general election (Panelbase):

    SNP 40% (+1)
    Conservatives 28% (+7)
    Labour 20% (+1)
    Liberal Democrats 11% (-2)

    “The fieldwork took place after Tuesday, so we don’t have to put a question mark over the results due to the rigged debate on ITV.”

    Panelbase generally records a 2%-3% lower figure for the SNP than does YouGov.

  3. Although it assumes a uniform swing (unlikely) the Panelbase figures would result in:

    SNP net gain of 6 seats
    Fibdems gain 1 seat
    blue tories lose 1 seat
    red tories lose 6 seats


  4. The Scottish subsample of the YouGov poll Adrian Beaumont posted above had:

    SNP 43%
    Con 25 %
    Lab 16 %
    LD 15 %
    Oth 2%

    It allocates 49 seats to the SNP, assume 1 Labour and 4 LibDem, that would leave only 5 Conservative seats …. a loss of 8!!

    May it be so. 🙂

  5. labour are on a hiding to nothing in Scotland, since the SNP is the centre left/progressive party of choice. Worst case they can just prop up a minority labour govt in Westminster.

    Tories are presumably far more stable up there, since there will always be a pretty stable population of heartless, rich reactionaries who want to eat the workers – wherever you are. And they dont seem to have any competition that could steal that constituency away from them.

  6. There has been a significant drop off in all the Lefties telling everyone Labour came from a long way behind last election.

    Yes, we all know they did but May and her crew aren’t in charge this time.

  7. Average of 8 latest polls, taken 14-22 Nov (incl today’s BMG, Opinium, Panelbase, YouGov):
    Con 43%
    Lab 29%
    Lib Dem 15%
    Brexit Party 4%
    Green 3%
    Projected Con majority 94
    (All polls take account of Brexit Party standing down; Scotland projected from Panelbase & YouGov, 9-25 Oct)

    Now keep telling me how useless and terrible Boris is.

  8. Big A Adrian says:
    Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 6:34 pm
    I suspect that Scotland might be the one place where tories might be unduly advantaged by proportional representation.
    Do you mean at Scottish Parliamentary elections? That, and EU elections, are the only ones using a form of proportional representation.

  9. swamprat, i meant if the uk changed their system. Everyones saying how fptp unfairly advantages the tories and pr would put them back in their place. I suspect the situation in Scotland is the opposite.

  10. Big A Adrian

    “ Tories are presumably far more stable up there,”

    That seems to be true. The Conservative and Unionist Party seems to get a consistent core vote in the range of 20% to 25% in Scotland.

    Most former Labour members and voters have migrated to the SNP. The decline of the once great Labour Party in Scotland is quite a phenomenon given the founding roles of the Party by three Scotsmen: Kier Hardie (the first Leader), Ramsay MacDonald (the first PM) and Arthur Henderson.

    Thatcherism and Blairism were significant factors but also pretty appalling uselessness of many self-serving Labour politicians.

  11. Big A Adrian

    Ok, I understand.

    On FPTP. The Tory Government before last had a comfortable majority with 37% of the vote!!

    A travesty of democracy.

    Fancy getting 5 years when 63% voted against them!

    The UK is barely a democracy with its unelected House of Lords, appalling electoral system, long terms of Parliament. No written Constitution.

  12. A Survation poll wasn’t supposed to be released until Monday UK time, but got leaked on Twitter by a journo. Tory lead down from 14 to 11.

    Europe Elects @EuropeElects
    UK, Survation poll:

    CON-ECR: 41% (-1)
    LAB-S&D: 30% (+2)
    LDEM-RE: 15% (+2)
    BREXIT-NI: 5%
    GREENS-G/EFA: 3%

    Fieldwork: 20-23 November 2019
    Sample size: N/A

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