Tuesday 12 November 2019

A Month to Go: How Goes It?

I thought the initial General Election launch was good for Labour: straight out of the traps with policy announcements. The Tories were a bit of a mess in comparison, and then the Liberal Democrats somewhat disappeared in the national media.

Since then, Labour was slightly derailed by some of its past personnel, and the Tories continued to have accidents. The Liberal Democrats emerged with its revoke position and a few policies, such as mental health. At this point Labour had more to vote for, because it painted the broader brush. The Tories were incredulous regarding their offerings, and we'd sort of heard them before.

The press thus did its duty, putting out Tory HQ propaganda, e.g. on Labour's spending cost. I increasingly object to television 'reviewing' the press, because the press is simply biased from top to bottom. Broadcasters have a duty of balance, and the Sky Press Preview, for example, treats stories as something worth talking about when they are propaganda and misinformation.

So we had accidents and skirmishes, but the big event at the end of the beginning was The Grand Old Duke of York, Nigel Farage, deflating the tyres of his own lacklustre troops and marching them down again. In this one-man party, he decides - or rather he and President Donald Trump of the United States. He won't stand in 317 Conservative held seats, unilaterally (we are told). This has a number of interesting effects, and why the Tory press has come out with the fed message to stand down in them all.

This is a General Election to be fought constituency by constituency. Farage's intention is for Labour voters to (more likely) vote Brexit Party than Conservative, and thus undermine Labour seats. But it means the Conservatives less likely to win such seats, even if Brexit can focus more on Labour.

And then some Labour voters, who saw Brexit as an alternative party from the Conservatives, might regard Brexit as (obvious to the rest of us) a right wing party. So the resistance to vote Tory might translate to Brexit, with its Trump association and its likely impact on the United Kingdom. However, militant brexiteers won't be affected: they'll vote Brexit or Tory.

It doesn't affect the Liberal Democrats: in fact it improves their position. This is because Conservative 'soft remain' voters will realise that the party is now compatible with the Brexit Party. They are likely to take behaviour from MPs who left the Conservatives for the Liberal Democrats.

It does not follow, even with Farage's help, that the Conservatives can maintain their 317 seats. The Liberal Democrats can chip away at some of those votes, either to their own advantage or to let Labour in. This is why the Tory right and press want Farage to stand down: because the impact of his action to make Trump happy is more limited than people may think.

Liberal Democrats = unaffected, may even benefit
Labour = will be squeezed, but Brexit becomes Conservative associated. It means even more Labour should promote a broad agenda for this electorate.

The Remain Alliance is a formal version of redirecting votes prior to Farage's climbdown, but the Alliance is likely to have minimal effect I'd think, even if it does cover sixty seats. The Remain Alliance may help the Liberal Democrats if there is a Green-leaning Climate Emergency vote: Labour is making a big effort on that as part of its headlines of broader concerns.

Johnson's reputation is failing. The MPs Russia report was frozen, probably because the Tory party is funded by rich Russians, these of Russians who killed in Britain. Johnson looked a comparative mess at the Cenotaph, but of course he wasn't Michael Foot. He's had to follow, not lead, over the flooding in Yorkshire. His reputation as a political liar is growing. He actually shields Corbyn in this: and, indeed, Corbyn has never made any racist statements in his life but Johnson has. How much this matters we don't know. Many Labour voters will withhold their votes with Corbyn as leader, but a lot of that is the drip drip of the press and the nature of the more right wing Labour voter, the one that surfaced as a result of the European Union membership referendum.

Also some people think that Parliament wasn't working before - the fact that it kept holding the Government to account seems to be lost in this. It was Government that was continually crass in how it approached matters through the May and Johnson years.

Furthermore, Scotland is another country and Wales is beginning the think differently, such that Wales is more of a mystery now.

There is a month to go from today's date to polling - four weeks and two days. It must be a possibility that the Brexit Party will stand down from more seats as its vote diminishes. Its decision so far, and any further, will also sharpen the minds of the other sides, whether Labour or the clearer Remain parties. There'll be much less complacency that the other side will split its vote. It is too early to predict trends, but Labour are campaigning better than the Conservatives and could pick up support, and we still do not yet know whether the Liberal Democrats will make real inroads using its database and constituencies focus or get squeezed again as the campaign pans out. If it is a 'Brexit' General Election then the Liberal Democrats should do well, but it may be otherwise.

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