UK election minus three days

The lower-educated appear likely to sink Labour in Thursday’s UK election. Also featured: a guide to how the results will come in on Friday (our time).

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.

Seven UK national polls were released last week, with the Conservatives leading by eight to 11 points in five and by 14% to 15% in Survation and Opinium. There was little change since last week in most polls, but the Conservative lead was up five points in Survation.

Donald Trump was in the UK from December 2-4, and there was a head-to-head debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn on December 6. Polls listed above were taken after the Trump visit, and Johnson won the leaders’ debate by 52-48 in a YouGov “insta poll”.

In the latest YouGov poll, the Conservatives hold leads of 39-34 with the ABC1 social grade (upper to middle class), but by 48-31 with C2DE (working class). Sky’s Lewis Goodall has qualitative research into Labour’s problems with lower-educated voters. Facebook ads have damaged Corbyn’s popularity with these voters. The Conservative message that Labour has blocked Brexit is cutting through.

While Corbyn has a problem with the lower educated, he’s far from unique. Centre-left parties had unexpectedly dismal results in the UK (2015), US (2016) and Australia (2019), owing to swings towards conservative parties among the lower educated.

There are probably two ways for the global left to start winning elections consistently again. One is via a deep economic recession. The other way is via demographic change. Since 1940, educational attainment among those aged 25-29 in the US has surged. As the population becomes better-educated, the left is likely to do better – but not for a long time.

A hope for UK Labour is that Johnson’s ratings in an Ipsos poll slumped 22 net points to -20 since November, while Corbyn was up 16 to -44. Something could go wrong for the Conservatives with Johnson that unpopular. In YouGov, Johnson’s net approval was down nine points since last fortnight to -13, Corbyn down five to -47 and the Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson down 18 to -36.

As I wrote previously, there are three ways Labour could defy the polls. A fourth can be added: late deciders. While the Conservatives lead by 43-33 in YouGov, they only lead by 33-26 including “won’t vote” (8%), “don’t know” (13%) and “refused” (3%). If late deciders break to Labour, it will be closer than current polls suggest.

At the UK’s May European elections, pollsters tended to overstate support for the Brexit party, Conservatives and Labour, and understate support for the Lib Dems and Greens. The Brexit party was the clear choice for Leavers at that election. In general, the performance of UK pollsters has been poor.

A guide to election results day (Friday)

UK polls are open from 7am to 10pm Thursday local time. Unlike Australia, where small booths report quickly, the UK has no counting by booth. Instead, votes from all booths within a seat are transported to a central counting centre, and counted there. Postal votes must arrive by election day. Barring a recount, seats are declared once the vote count finishes. It takes far longer to get a good idea of the result than in Australia.

To follow their elections, the British need to pull an all-nighter. In Australia it’s easier, with polls closing at 9am Friday Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT). Here is my guide to the events in Australia; all times are Friday AEDT.

9am: Polls close and The Exit Poll is released (intentional capitalisation). In the last three elections, The Exit Poll has given seat results which greatly disagreed with pre-election polls and expectations. In all three cases, The Exit Poll was far closer to the mark than pre-election polls. Only seat counts are given, not vote shares.

11am: According to this article about the 2017 election, only three of 650 declarations are expected by this time.

1pm-3pm: These two hours should be the heaviest for declarations.  Initial results will be biased to Labour as the Conservative heartland regional seats take longer to gather their votes. The key is to watch the changes in vote share, and whether seats are being gained or lost.

6pm: Only a few seats will not be declared by this time. Very close seats can take longer to declare owing to recounts. If there’s snow on the roads, results will be delayed.

From the editor

Below is an update of the poll tracker I published on Friday, with nine new polls added. It maintains a trend of steady improvement for Labour at the expense of the Liberal Democrats, while the Conservatives hold steady. The latest trend result is Conservatives 42.7% (up 0.3% on 2017), Labour 33.7% (down 6.3%), Liberal Democrats 12.3% (up 4.9%) and Brexit Party 3.4%.

106 comments on “UK election minus three days”

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  1. Hello Bucephalus. There is already a “death tax” in NSW, implemented by the LNP state government. Here’s how it works:
    -the Public Trustee promotes the provision of Last Wills and Testaments to the community, prepared by the Public Trustee at no charge! How good is that! They will ensure the will they prepare for you is legally watertight, and that your wishes for passing on your possessions are just as you wish.
    -this Will they have prepared will also contain clauses appointing themselves, the Public Trustee, as the executor of the will
    -when the will comes into force, the Public Trustee will perform their duty as an executor, which for most estates will be a pretty simple set of actions which could be done by a family member, or would be a small job for a suburban solicitor. Applying for probate, paying bills, disconnecting utilities, that kind of thing.
    -for the privilege of doing this, the Public Trustee takes a cut of the assets of the deceased. If the deceased owned an average value Sydney house, this will be about $30,000.
    -they will even get a valuation done on the house, which the estate will be charged for. Mysteriously, this valuation will be well above the real market value of the house.

    I’d imagine that other states have similar practices, although I only know the facts in NSW through family experience. What are you thoughts on this-you’d be pretty appalled that LNP government would have such a “death tax”, would you not?

  2. Parramatta

    That’s not a Death Tax.

    Nice try.

    If you want to play that game then Capital Gains Tax and Superannuation Taxes are more your thing.

  3. I would like to second Oakshott Country’s motion. This thread used to be a haven of informed discussion away from the internecine sniping of the main thread. Let’s get back to that, please.

  4. I will just make the point that it was Mr Beaumont who raised the issue of Death Taxes and that it required a response. I’ve said what needed to be said.

    I’m still expecting a solid Conservative Victory.

    “England expects that every man will do his duty”

  5. The LDP. Grubs:

    “ Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson says “nobody’s talking about coalitions and, particularly given the leadership of the Labour Party, that’s absolutely not on the cards.””

  6. AE, no one could reasonably blame her for saying that. Completely standard script for any political leader on the eve of an election.

  7. It is possible that the current UK Parliament will be more or less returned!

    What will they do then? A Parliament that will NOT deliver Brexit.

    Another election in February?

    While the former Labour voter who is voting Tory to “get brexit done” seems to be the media cliche of the English voter, what about the more moderate Tory EU remain voter and the Doctor’s wife worried about the NHS? Where does she go? Presumably to the LDP. Enough of them could eat into Tory majorities in a FPTP voting system.

  8. some hillarious memes going around on fridgegate – wish I knew how to post images

    Corbyn was nicely squeezing in a ‘I’m not hiding in a fridge’ line in his rally speech yesterday.

  9. Swamprat,

    Enough of them in the right places could eat into the Tory majority. If they’re in safe seats, they won’t make a jot of difference. That’s a problem with single-seat electorates, FPTP or not.

  10. Swamprat

    I have been thinking this for some time; that we may end up with very similar seat numbers to 2017, with the Conservatives narrowly short of a majority. In that scenario, Boris Johnson may be forced to again negotiate with the DUP. The inevitable outcome of this would of course be that his terrible Brexit deal with a border down the Irish Sea is binned. It would then be up to Parliament and ultimately the EU whether the deadlock continues.

  11. Matt31

    I think Brexit could run for quite a few years yet.

    Don’t forget the last three years has been about the Withdrawal Agreement, not the actual Brexit process, that is yet to come!

    It is going to be a long running soapie 🙂

  12. Matt31

    “ The inevitable outcome of this would of course be that his terrible Brexit deal with a border down the Irish Sea is binned. ”

    Haha the SNP would love that “terrible Brexit deal” with the border at Hadrian’s Wall.

  13. I wonder if there is a not-insignificant amount of voters who would normally never vote for someone like Boris – but will do on this occassion purely to avoid the very deadlock that swamprat described. Could conceivably include some remainers too.

  14. @Big A

    You can post images by copy and pasting the direct link to the image into your comment. For example, if you put the following link in a comment without the spaces either side of the full stop, it will display an image.×2-940×627 . jpg

    Remove the spaces and it becomes…

    You can also use HTML tags to post images.

    <img src=”×2-940×627 . jpg” height=”50″ width=”200″>

    Note, I have used & lt; and & gt; (without spaces) to display the less than and greater than signs. Use the normal ones on your keyboard and it will read it as HTML code. By using HTML you have more control over how the image appears. I have used the tag above to change the size of the image…

  15. Big A, when the polls were showing big Tory leads earlier, that’s what I suspected was happening.

    Anyway, full results of all today’s polls so far. They’re either unchanged or have Labour gaining ground, except the Number Cruncher Politics poll, which was last done in May. I’ve only included polls with fieldwork in the last 2-3 days.

    Europe Elects @EuropeElects
    UK (GB), Deltapoll poll:

    CON-ECR: 45% (+1)
    LAB-S&D: 35% (+2)
    LDEM-RE: 10% (-1)
    SNP-G/EFA: 4%
    GREENS-G/EFA: 3% (+1)
    BREXIT-NI: 3%

    +/- vs. 5-7 December 2019

    Fieldwork: 9-11 December 2019

    UK (GB), Kantar poll:

    CON-ECR: 44%
    LAB-S&D: 32%
    LDEM-RE: 13% (-2)
    SNP-G/EFA: 4% (+1)
    GREENS-G/EFA: 3%
    BREXIT-NI: 3% (+1)

    +/- vs. 28 November – 2 December 2019

    Fieldwork: 10-11 December 2019
    Sample size: 2,815

    UK (GB), Panelbase poll:

    CON-ECR: 43%
    LAB-S&D: 34%
    LDEM-RE: 11% (-2)
    BREXIT-NI: 4% (+1)
    GREENS-G/EFA: 3% (+1)

    +/- vs. 4-6 Dec

    Fieldwork: 10-11 December 2019
    Sample size: 3,174

    UK (GB), Savanta ComRes poll:

    CON-ECR: 41%
    LAB-S&D: 36% (+3)
    LDEM-RE: 12%
    SNP-G/EFA: 4%
    BREXIT-NI: 3%
    GREENS-G/EFA: 2%

    +/- vs. 4-5 Dec

    Fieldwork: 9-10 December 2019
    Sample size: 2,051

    UK (GB), Number Cruncher UK poll:

    CON-ECR: 43% (+16)
    LAB-S&D: 33% (+2)
    LDEM-RE: 12% (-3)
    SNP-G/EFA: 4% (-1)
    GREENS-G/EFA: 3% (-1)
    BREXIT-NI: 3% (-11)
    PC-G/EFA: 1%

    +/- vs. 18–21 May

    Fieldwork: 9-10 December 2019
    Sample size: 1,009

    UK (GB), Opinium poll:

    CON-ECR: 45% (-1)
    LAB-S&D: 33% (+2)
    LDEM-RE: 12% (-1)
    GREENS-G/EFA: 2% (-1)
    BREXIT-NI: 2%

    +/- vs. 4-6 Dec

    Fieldwork: 10-11 December 2019
    Sample size: N/A

  16. Ok scrap that. William seems to have disabled HTML img tags.

    Other HTML tags such as bold <b> bold </b> work.

    Now im on a mission to test what HTML tags work lol

  17. My predictions –
    Tory majority of 50 – 100
    Corbyn has to go but Labour is a mess
    Lib Dem have a very modest election with maybe 25 seats.
    SNP will do well but won’t gain a lot of seats (being that they hold the majority of seats in Scotland.)

    NI will be an interesting sideshow. I suspect that SDLP will a make a return to Westminster with 2 seats as SF absenteeism has left the catholic communities without a vote on Brexit .

    Brexit will happen at the end of Jan 2020 without a deal. Boris will be able to get parliament to approve leaving but a trade deal that is acceptable to his backbenchers and the other EU nations is beyond his magically ability.

    The UK then goes into a decline and becomes… the Japan of the North Atlantic.

  18. The five-point drop in Boris’ approval rating in Opinium (to 33%) should worry the Tories. In the same poll, Boris had a weak 36-23 lead over Corbyn as better PM, which dropped to 30-21 with Swinson and Farage included.

    This suggests that Leave voters are not as enthusiastic about voting for Boris, while Remainers hate him. Even though Remainers dislike Corbyn, they’ll probably vote for him to prevent Boris winning outright. With election day weather wet and cold, the more highly motivated Remainers could drive Labour higher than expected.

    In WB’s post on the UK election, all polls assumed a higher Leave than Remain vote. If that’s wrong, and Remain exceeds Leave turnout by a big margin, it will be painful for the Tories.

    Remember also that the Tories are winning the working class, but they’re not reliable voters.

    UK (GB), Opinium poll:

    Approval Ratings for Party Leaders

    Johnson (CON-ECR): 33% (-5)
    Sturgeon (SNP-G/EFA): 26% (+2)
    Farage (BREXIT-NI): 24% (+2)
    Corbyn (LAB-S&D): 24%
    Swinson (LDEM-RE): 19% (-1)

    +/- vs. 27-29 Nov

    Fieldwork: 10-11 December 2019
    Sample size: 3,005

  19. With the exception of ComRes, is it reasonable to suspect the others are herding?

    Also I’ve been told that Kantar is the only pollster in that list that doesn’t ask respondents about turnout – but instead uses the 2015 and 2017 rates. And surprise surprise they have the (equal) largest gap. Yougov does the same.

  20. “Remember also that the Tories are winning the working class, but they’re not reliable voters.”

    There is some speculation about the possibility that the labour leavers who are threatening to send a message to labour for their brexit betrayal, will be happy to use bad weather as a good excuse for not having to take the plunge and vote tory (and instead stay home).

    Also, people tend to forget that young people actually exist in those critical ‘red wall’ seats too.

  21. HTML image tag still not working. Fairly sure William has disabled it. Another useful tag is italics (<i>italics</i>). Underline seems to be disabled tho.

  22. Survation ain’t gonna be the left’s favourite pollster this time. Maybe the Tories are stronger this time with phone polls than online.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 45% (-)
    LAB: 34% (+3)
    LDEM: 9% (-2)

    via @Survation, 10 – 11 Dec
    Chgs. w/ 07 Dec

  23. Tory leads in all polls

    ComRes: 5
    ICM: 6
    BMG: 9
    Panelbase: 9
    YouGov seat model: 9
    Number Cruncher poll: 10
    Survation: 11
    Kantar: 12
    Opinium: 12

    Still to come: a final Ipsos Mori poll. That’s published in the Evening Standard, so it won’t be out til at least evening our time.

  24. Very nice Survation poll for the SNP in Scotland.

    Britain Elects @britainelects
    Scotland, Westminster voting intention:

    SNP: 46% (+9)
    CON: 28% (-1)
    LAB: 15% (-12)
    LDEM: 10% (+3)
    GRN: 1% (+1)
    BREX: 1% (+1)

    via @Survation, 10 – 11 Dec
    Chgs. w/ GE2017

  25. Wow, a full scale Scottish Survation poll (not a sub sample)
    I was/am feeling quite flat about the Tory ascendency in the polls.

    Scottish voting intentions for the general election (Survation):

    SNP 46% (+5)
    Conservatives 27% (+3)
    Labour 15% (-7)
    Liberal Democrats 10% (+2)

    Seats projection (Electoral Calculus model):
    SNP 47 (+12),
    Conservatives 6 (-7),
    Liberal Democrats 4 (n/c),
    Labour 2 (-5)

    May it be so. The only black spot is it implies Swinson retains her seat. The LDP has been panicking a bit in it.

  26. In Scotland the Tories, LibDems, Labour should amalgamate.

    They can call the new party the Democratic Unionist Party.

    DUP has a nice ring to it. Don’t you agree? 🙂

  27. Looks like the weather is going to be pretty bleak right across the UK. What that will actually mean is hard to pick. Usually I’d imagine it would be good for the Conservatives; this time though, with a lot of working class and older leavers I’m not so sure.

  28. If Boris had a working majority, why on earth would the tories replace him after 1 year of achieving that? Besides, the tories have been purged of most if not all those pesky moderate Europhiles – the only people in his own party that might cause problems for him.

  29. Matt31

    I gather the Tories have a well oiled postal voting machine. Obviously postal votes are not so affected by weather having been dispatched well before the day.

  30. Just got this on twitter – BBC reporter saying Boris needs “the majority he so deserves”. Hasten to say I only just heard this and don’t know the context – but on the surface this is outrageous, and caps off a horror election campaign for the BBC…

    Not just #PostalVotes but the BBC today said Boris Johnson needs "the majority he so deserves" . They are off the scale right now.— Zippy (@YourFriendZippy) December 11, 2019

  31. The old people vote by post, but I’m thinking of Leavers of around 50-65. Will they trudge to the booth in bleak weather when they’re not that enthusiastic about Boris anymore if that Opinium approval poll is any guide?

  32. The only way that a Tory majority would not involve Boris being PM at the following election, barring unexpectable circumstances (death, a scandal so big that not even expert scandal escaper Boris falls, etc), would be if that Tory Majority did not include Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris`s seat, unusually marginal for a PM`s seat). Even if he looses his seat, there are options for him retaining the PMship: another Conservative (in a very, very safe seat) retiring, becoming a lord and governing from the Lords and being an extra-Parliamentary PM.

  33. That Scottish Survation poll above showed changes since the previous Survation poll in April 2019.

    The changes since the 2017 General Election would be as follows:

    SNP – 46% (+9)
    Con – 27% (-2)
    Lab – 15% (-12)
    LD – 10% (+3)

  34. SNP/LibDems to gain ~15 seats from the Tories.

    Lab to pick up ~0 seats from the Tories.

    Qn is if Lab can net lose no more than 20-25 seats to the Tories. Depending on what polling one believes, this is tracking more in the 40-70 range but we hold out hope for a surprise on the day a la 2017.

    Seat changes between non-Tory… doesnt really matter except any DUP losses/gains (hopefully max losses).

    Exit poll announced fri 9am sydney time?

  35. exit poll for 2017 was not accurate. seems Scotland will improve snp position but by how much…….also if remain means anything…… then conservatives will lose seats to snp? how many if 13 then the conservatives need to win 13 else where to just remain even

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