Is this true? Can Jeremy Corbyn actually improve Labour’s performance so much that it leads to a hung Parliament and he an unlikely Prime Minister leading a coalition government? Well if you believe this headline then yes is the answer. However, if you take the time to read the article you will see that what pollsters have actually said is that this result is at one end of a possible range of results the other is that the Conservatives have around 370 seats. In other words the headline is screaming about a statistical outlier. You have to wonder why this was the lead headline? It is very easy to suggest that this serves a purpose of scaring potential Conservative voters so much as they will get out and vote to ensure that Jeremy Corbyn is not the next Prime Minister. After All The Times is a Murdoch paper.
At the start of the election I mentioned a number of things to look out for and the first two were: The size of the UKIP collapse and the size of the Liberal Democrat revival. With this morning’s headline in mind I think it might just be worth while looking at the top ten marginals for Labour and Conservative:
There are three things to note: Firstly, all the Conservative marginals have Labour in second place – so in principle any swing from Conservative to Labour at a national level would suggest that most of these would go to Labour; Secondly, the Labour marginals are mostly straight Conservative/Labour fights with the exception of Ealing and Hampstead where any swing to the Liberal Democrats would affect the outcome. So beyond these two seats any swing to the Conservatives would see them gain the seats in question and finally the 3rd marginal on the Conservative list is missing from the list – this is because it is fight between the SNP and the Scottish Conservative and so doesn’t help this analysis.
When you look at the figures the one thing that stands out more than anything else is that there are a large number of UKIP votes up for grabs as the UKIP seem to be in freefall. It may well be that some or most of these seats won’t even have a UKIP candidate as they are not fielding candidates in all of the seats. Indeed if I was UKIP I wouldn’t field a candidate in most of these seats (Thurrock being the exception) if money was tight. If this is the case where will the UKIP voters go?
The first answer of course is nowhere – they may just stay at home. However, if we assume they are going to vote where will they go to? To try and answer this you have to look at what Labour and the Conservative have said about issues that UKIP voters may well be interested in: Brexit, Immigration and Jeremy Corbyn. If these are the three questions that the UKIP voters are considering then you would have to suggest that they will move more likely to the Conservatives than Labour as they are the bedrock of their campaign. On top of this if there is anything like a Lib Dem revival it may well take the votes from the Labour party than the Conservatives although the Brexit vote also have a factor. Just to reinforce the importance being placed on immigration control this is the headline in today’s Daily Telegraph. It doesn’t take too much imagination to suggest who this might be wanting to influence.
In short it would seem an electoral mountain for Labour to climb to take any of the most marginal Conservative seats. Equally, if the UKIP vote does move to the Conservatives then many of their most marginal seats will also swing to the Conservative. Of course no one can really tell how things will work out on election day – perhaps Labour can win many of the most marginal Conservative seats and allow them be the largest party in a coalition government. However, looking at the voting patterns last time you still have to say that is less likely than likely.