Here we are – at the end of what I’ve found to be a depressing and disheartening general election campaign. Part of this has been watching the Left suddenly psyche themselves up about the prospect of taking power, all off the back of opinion polls that only a few weeks back they were deriding as nonsense. I remain convinced that we are heading for a large Tory majority, with Labour putting in a result that is the worst of all possible results: a slight increase in overall vote share which allows Corbyn a convenient excuse to hang on as leader (he would have done anyway, but this makes it much easier for him) while losing a lot of seats to the Conservative Party in former Labour heartlands like the North East.
The Lib Dems are headed for a very bad result as well. At the start of the campaign, I thought they’d double their parliamentary share, ending up in the high teens in terms of MPs. I now look at each of the relevant races and wonder how anyone hangs on: Norman Lamb is trying to fight against the party’s one main line in order to cling on in a very Leave constituency; one of the few gains Labour can realistically make tomorrow is in Sheffield Hallam; Farron is by no means clear, with many Tories figuring Westmorland is “in the bag”. It is not inconceivable that in two days time, the entire Lib Dem parliamentary party could be in Scottish seats.
I stick to the prediction I made a few weeks ago: Con 434, Lab 146, LD 6, SNP 42. I’ll stick to it because I haven’t seen enough to make me seriously reconsider it. If pushed, I suppose I could imagine a slightly lower Tory number, but not much lower – I think they’ll crack 400, even in a worst case scenario. And I think there is no way Labour will end up with more than 200 seats. As for the Lib Dems – my 6 figure is looking a little high now.
I can only hope I’m wrong. The Lib Dems putting in a surprise result because of decent ground campaigning and the dementia tax really having the effect the pollsters seem to think it has resulting in a hung parliament would be great fun (if a little terrifying for the future of the country! John McDonnell as chancellor of the exchequer….I just got a chill down my spine).
What makes me think I’m right is that everyone in Labour and in the Conservative Party on the ground seems to be telling the same exact same story: outside of London and the centre of cities like Manchester and Liverpool, the canvassing results for Labour are terrible, and correspondingly good for the Tories. If there is a surge outside of London and already uber-safe Labour areas, no one is picking it up on the ground. No one.
If it comes to pass as I predict, this will mean the polling industry comes under even more fire afterwards, and even people like me who have defended them in the past will find it hard to do so this time if the result really is as off as it feels like it will be.