10 Reasons to be Cheerful on Election Eve
W Stephen Gilbert
- In what they keep calling “the most unpredictable election of recent times”, the pundits report a continuing Tory lead in the opinion polls, indicating that Boris Johnson will have a majority in the House. Let’s just remember that, throughout this century, the polls have almost always been wrong.
- Labour has a fantastic ground operation to get the vote out, far superior to that of the Tories and better even than the legendary Liberal grassroots campaigns of the 1970s and ‘80s. Much of it is based on the immense activist base and the highly developed online skills of Momentum.
- Young and first-time voters break heavily for Labour and are strongly motivated to vote, especially on issues that directly affect them which are addressed fully and sympathetically in the Labour manifesto. Nearly 40% of Tory Party members are over 65 years old. Some of them will be deterred by the weather, complacency or seasonal duties.
- The Tory campaign has been narrow, cautious and accident-prone. The constantly hammered slogan “Let’s get Brexit done” will have paid diminishing returns with many voters who have other concerns. Remainers (half the electorate) have no motive to vote Tory.
- The election allows Labour roughly equal opportunities of exposure (unlike the government-favouring coverage during the rest of the political cycle) and many who don’t follow politics will have had their first real sight of Jeremy Corbyn and will have been able to measure him for themselves against the constant undermining by the mainstream media.
- Johnson and many of his MPs have often received a rowdy reception. Johnson has fled several events (especially hospital visits) because of the evidence of hostility. Though you don’t see much of it in the media, Corbyn routinely addresses huge crowds everywhere, and ticketed events are greatly oversubscribed.
- Johnson boasts that his candidates are united behind him. That suggests that those who don’t support the Tories will not be inclined to give Johnson the benefit of the doubt, while those who scorn Johnson will be equally repelled by his party. By contrast, the uneasy alliance of Corbynistas and intractable Blairites that is the Labour Party and its supporters is much more likely to be accepted as the lesser evil by those in each half of the alliance.
- The proportion of “undecided voters” found by opinion polls is still comparatively high. A lot of people make up their minds when they look at the ballot paper. Hesitancy may well be more about Labour’s huge ambition than Johnson’s known quantity. Perhaps the hesitant will be apt to break for us.
- After the local and European elections in the spring, pundits declared that two-party dominance was over and that smaller parties would greatly increase their representation in parliament at the next election. That election is here, and nothing suggests that the smaller parties will make much – if any – headway and will certainly not repeat their spring showings. This benefits both big parties, with a decline in Brexit Party support favouring the Tories but a similar slump in LibDem votes helping Labour. The LibDems, Greens and Nationalists made pacts in some seats in order to help the anti-Tory vote – in some seats that should stop Tories winning, in others perhaps Labour doing so. The Brexiteers stood down in all the Tory-held seats, which might stop Labour taking some Tory marginals, but their continuing to stand in Labour-held seats might equally prevent the Tories from taking Labour marginals.
- These may all be straws in the wind. Or it might be clutching at straws. No one knows what will happen on polling day, save that the election will be won and lost not in the campaign but on the day itself. We’re constantly told that the nation is divided, exhausted and fed up. This may he fertile for Johnson. The positive and hopeful vote will go to Labour. As long as sufficient supporters encourage people they know to vote positively, we can still win this.