This would have been it…we should have preparing ourselves for the great leap. Instead, no ditch was worried by Boris Johnson but rather we are all getting ready for an election. In many ways this is something of a relief as it does mean that at least we won’t have so many people trying to claim that they are doing the will of the people. Come Friday 13th of December, you couldn’t make this up, we should have a good idea whether this was a good idea for Boris Johnson.
My suspicion is that it won’t have been because I don’t believe he will win a majority and if that is the case then it will be curtains for Boris Johnson as it is unlikely, you should never say never, that any other party will want to work with the Conservatives to form a majority government. This assumes that the Brexit Party doesn’t win any seats and again never say never…but this is unlikely. Instead they could make things very difficult for the Conservative Party in many of their target seats and so we might face the ultimate Brexit irony that the one person who has done more to champion Brexit, Nigel Farage, might bring about its downfall. Perhaps perhap perhaps.
So what to look out for during the next few weeks? The first indicator will be the heated debate over TV debates. Will there be any and who will be on them? For their own reasons I suspect neither Johnson or Corbyn wish to hold them. I doubt that this will hold and could well become a theme of the of the election – the leaders of the two main parties frightened of the scrutiny. So they may well agree to debate one another but then who else should be allowed to debate with them? They will be have to be dragged screaming a shouting to appear with Jo Swinson and Nigel Farage. In the end they may well have no choice.
But what of Scotland? I suspect the SNP are only too willing to try and make this a Scotland v the UK election and so would be only too willing to hold a Scotland only leaders debate – this might pit Nicola Sturgeon against Jo Swinson, a Scottish MP as well as the Liberal Democrats leader. However, of course, Nicola Sturgeon is not standing for election to the House of Commons so should it be Ian Blackford? Who should represent the Tories north of the border – this is far from clear.
So which seats are those to watch? The most important battle is the battle for Scotland as so many of the constituencies are marginals. If the 2017 results is any guide to what might happen in 2019 then it looks likely that the Conservatives would do well to get more than 3 seats in Scotland – mostly in the Scottish borders. What happens to the the deserting Conservative voters is critical to the outcome of so many seats in Scotland. The only viable unionist home for these voters would appear to be the Lib Dems. If this is the case and the Lib Dems have good election then, based on the the 2017 results, the SNP could be in trouble in a number of seats to a resurgent Liberal Democratic party. These are all big ifs but were I the MP for North East Fife I would really start to think about life outside politics as the SNP holds the seat by 2 votes!
Beyond Scotland which results should you look for? Well the first interesting result would be Jeremy Corbyn’s own seat. I don’t believe for one second he will loose but it is worth pointing out that in the European Election in June the Labour party were only the second largest party after the Lib Dems. The result may well show the strength of the Lib Dems in other London seats. However, if the Greens and the Lib Dems come to some sort of pact then perhaps things might be different. But I doubt it.
However, the three London seats that are really well worth watching are the the three in Barnet: Finchley and Golders Green (1657 maj.), Chipping Barnet (353 maj.) and Hendon (1072 maj.). All three are Conservative marginals with Labour as the second party. However, these three seats will be a good barometer of how the anti semitism row has affected Labour’s chances (they all have a large number of Jewish voters). Again does this help the Lib Dems or does it just mean that the Conservative vote holds true and any surge to the Lib Dems only harms the chances of Labour taking these seats thus increasing the sitting MP’s majorities?
Beyond these specific seats it is clear that the big question will be just how much this is a Brexit election? Of course it should be all about Brexit as the outcome of the election will affect Britain’s relationship with its closest neighbours and biggest trading partners. However, this being a General Election then nothing can be taken for granted and things that look trivial now could suddenly blow up into something really big- an example could be Jennifer’s Ear or perhaps the Despatches TV documentary about secret trade negotiations between Britain and America involving access to the NHS and drug costs. At this stage all that can be said is that for all the money spent on an election these things can blow up very quickly and can engulf a campaign – especially as we now live in a combustible social media world.
Perhaps that is the best lesson to take into the general Election. Nobody really knows until the votes are counted. Many people will claim some inner knowledge and some may be better informed than others but in the end it is all just guesswork so with that in mind my guess for how the election will turn out is:
- The Conservatives will be the largest party but nowhere near an overall majority
- Labour has a bad election and loses some seats but perhaps not too many votes
- The Lib Dems do well and so do the SNP.
What will happen after that is anyone’s guess.
Not sure whether this is how Boris Johnson thought things would work out back in the sunny uplands of July…100 Days ago.
I will leave you with one final thought. A Mr H. Rifkind (SW1) recently pointed out that as a result of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act from now on the General Elections in the UK will now take place just before Christmas….now if that doesn’t depress you I don’t know what will!