Despite the Conservative party getting their election campaign off to what has by consensus been a rocky start, they are still around 10-12 points ahead of their nearest competitor, the Labour Party, in the polls. Some people are confused as to how this can be – and what can be done by opposition parties to bring the Tory lead down. Thankfully, I believe there are easy answers to these queries.
For a start, Labour cannot win this election and further, I find it very difficult to imagine a way to them even being the largest party. I don’t think they will do as badly as some Tories are fantasising about – I don’t think they’ll fall below 200 seats – but I think they are on course to do not very well at all. Perhaps Labour squeezes their possible vote as much as possible, but when one looks at some of the regional polling it is truly abysmal for Labour. They can try and squeeze the Lib Dem vote further, which they will do for two reasons: one, it is their quickest way to at least hanging onto some of their seats in this election and two, the Lib Dems doing badly in this GE is of paramount importance to the Labour leadership. If the Tories win, it’s not the end of the world; what is the end of the world for them is if the Lib Dems do well. If the likes of Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna retain seats in the House of Commons, despite leaving Labour. This will validate their decision to do so and will leave Labour open to more defections to the Lib Dems that could become a flood.
Given where Labour are, the election, as I have said many times already, hinges on how well the Lib Dems can do in southern England in Lib-Tory marginals. If they take 50 off of the Tories, I don’t see Johnson’s route to a majority; if they take 20, it will be close; if they take none, the Tories will win the election.
Boris Johnson’s plan for this election is to make it all about Brexit without his deal coming under any real scrutiny. He wants to present himself as the only party leader who can end uncertainty on Brexit and move the country on. He knows that the deal is weak and susceptible to massive attack.
The only party currently attacking the deal is the Brexit party. This is ineffective because one, Remainers don’t listen to the Brexit party for obvious reasons and two, by Farage deciding not to stand, the Brexit party have negated themselves as an electoral force at least capable of shifting results in several seats. They are slipping in the polls and without some magical intervention, will continue to slip.
Labour doesn’t want to attack the deal in any detail because they want to make the election about anything other than Brexit. The Lib Dems aren’t attacking the deal because…..answers on a postcard, please.
The whole election hinges on whether or not Boris can convince enough people in about 100, 150 key seats that if they vote for him, Brexit will “get done”. The Lib Dems need to convince people that this isn’t a wise use of their vote mainly because Boris won’t get Brexit done at all, and his deal simply opens us up to either a no deal Brexit in the near future or for the Brexit negotiations going on forever and ever. Perhaps the Lib Dems are getting this message out at local level effectively. Maybe enough Lib-Tory waverers will take the plunge and vote Lib Dem no matter how little the campaign does to convince them to do so. Maybe. Maybe not.
The Tories are so far ahead in the polls because we are having an election on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and he is being allowed to skim by because no opposition parties seem willing to directly attack his deal, apart from BXP who have made themselves not matter. Until his deal comes under fire, the Tories will probably remain comfortably ahead in the polls; if he makes it all the way to polling day like this, he probably gets himself a decent majority.
The Lib Dems aren’t attacking the deal because…..answers on a postcard, please.
Oh, I think I know this one. The Lib Dems can’t attack the deal on its specifics because they have pinned all their hopes on being the Remainiest of Remainers, the mirror ERG, the Brexit Party’s bête noire. For the Lib Dems, and for their target voters, any deal is a bad deal. Even if Boris Johnson had come back from Brussels riding a unicorn with a deal that said the UK would have total access to the EU’s markets but not have to abide by any EU rules, and the EU would pay us ten billion pounds a year, oh, and also Ireland would be reunited under British rule, the Lib Dems would be uty-bound to say it was a bad deal.
This has two effects. One, any criticism of the deal by the Lib Dems is ineffective because it falls under Mandy Rice-Davies, and (due to the strenuous efforts of the Lib Dems over the last few years to pump up their anti-Brexit credentials most especially their high-profile adopting of the mantle of the Revoke Party) everybody knows it. So swing voters who think we should probably Leave because the referendum said so, but who could be convinced that the deal is bad, won’t listen to the Lib Dems on the matter because the Lib Dems just don’t have credibility on this issue given they would say any deal was bad.
And second, it means that the Lib Dems can’t risk appearing in any way soft on Brexit lest they bleed off some of their hardcore Remainer support. Pick holes in the detail of the deal and people might start to wonder if there’s a different deal with different details that they might support. Admit that Boris’s deal is a bad way to leave the EU and you start to look like you think that maybe there are better and worse ways to leave the EU, and that’s anathema to the sorts of people for whom the EU has, over the past three years, become a sort of religion — the people for whom actually, eventually, leaving really is the end of their world. the people the Lib Dems are relying on to vote for them, in other words. To even admit that the idea of a UK outside the EU is to invite their fury.
Hence, if the Lib Dems start criticising the specifics of the dea, they risk losing the hard Remainers because they start to look soft, but they don’t gain any of the soft voters because they won’t listen because the party has previously established its hard credentials.
The Lib Dems have basically painted themselves into a corner where all they can do is shout ‘Bollocks to Brexit!’ louder and louder, and it’s going to do them in.
chris moore says
Pretty unconvincing, M.
Everyone already knows there are better and worse ways to Leave. That’s scarcely news. Lib Dems have been quite clear that a No-Deal Brexit is the worst of all ways to leave.
In fact, the Lib Dems have been quite vocal about how bad Johnson’s deal is; not least the limbo in which it leaves N. Ireland.
But sadly, that is not a vote-winner in the rest of the UK.
So the Lib Dems are laying out their positive vision, whilst still banging on about Brexit.
Scarcely unreasonable. And I can’t see that they’re painted into a corner at all.
What tis there to be upset about, anyway?
The Lib Dems are the clear pro-EU party. Get used to it.
Lib Dems have been quite clear that a No-Deal Brexit is the worst of all ways to leave.
Oh, yes, and that’s another problem for them: they’ve spent so long talking up the horror of a no-deal Brexit that when they switch to saying that leaving with a deal is also terrible, they really do just sound like it’s not the deal they object to, it’s the concept of leaving at all.
Which again makes it hard for them to connect with the people the article suggest they need to sway, those ‘people in about 100, 150 key seats’ who aren’t viscerally opposed to leaving the EU but who might be able to be convinced that leaving with this deal is bad. Any time the Lib Dems try to explain to them the real problems with Boris’s deal they just hear ‘Bollocks to Bexit!’ and switch off.
Lib Dems will do well to get 20 seats overall.
“The Lib Dems aren’t attacking the deal because…..answers on a postcard, please.”
I am hoping (optimistically) that the Liberal Democrats have a strategy for their timing of their campaign. I hope there will be strong attacks on Johnson’s deal, his record in his short time in office and on his mendacious character.
Attacks on Corbyn are OK at this stage, though need to be handled skillfully – there are two issues that somewhat contradict each other, his ineptness, his general incompetence, and his politics, including his political record. A competent Corbyn would be more of a liability than the actual incompetent Corbyn. In fact he is so inept that he is probably less of a liability than Johnson, so it is important that Johnson’s many shortcomings are exposed.
I hope there will be strong attacks on Johnson’s deal, his record in his short time in office and on his mendacious character
Is there anything that can be said about Johnson’s character or record that voters haven’t already priced in?