Within an hour of Theresa May’s announcement that she is seeking to call a General Election on 8th June this year, I had received an email from Patrick McLoughlin – the Chairman of the Conservative Party. His message was clear and reflected May’s statement. And, I quote: “We need this election now to secure the strong and stable leadership the country.” Voting for the Conservatives “will strengthen Britain’s hand in the Brexit negotiations.” Voting for the Conservatives will give us a stronger Britain, a secure feature and a “strong and stable leadership in the national interest.”
This email is the email of a Party who is confident they will win. And, they probably will. The polls are massively in their favour. The latest YouGov poll gives the Conservative Party a 21 point lead over Labour, who have slumped to their lowest poll ratings since 2009.
Of course, polls have been wrong in the past. We have seen hubris work its charm in the American Presidential election. But to be honest, the Conservatives’ are in a pretty good position and their confidence reflects this. They wouldn’t have called this election, at a time of political uncertainty, unless they were pretty certain they are going to win.
Seat projection on latest polls estimate that the Conservatives would win a majority of 150. This is +69 seats. Labour would lose 70 seats. UKIP, Lib Dems, Green, SNP are currently predicted to remain at a similar (ish) amount.
If I were a betting woman, I’d put money on the Conservatives to win an increased majority. However, I wouldn’t be willing to put my money on the numbers outlined above. They don’t paint a full picture of the political reality and the subtleties of the electorate across the country.
- The Conservative Party will likely gain a lot of seats off Labour. But, the Lib Dem Fight Back should not be sneered at. In 2015, the Conservatives won a lot of seats that would traditionally be Liberal Democrat seats. There will be some very nervous Conservative MPs in seats across Cornwall, Bath, Great London (e.g. Twickenham) and others right now. They have a very real fight on their hands. The Lib Dems have an impressive grassroots operation – as demonstrated in the by-election in David Cameron’s old constituency of Whitney where they increased their vote share by +23.5%. Or when they booted Zac Goldsmith out of Richmond (though granted, that was a very special set of circumstances). The Lib Dems are the only party really talking the talk about the importance of the EU; something which is lost on other parties and which some of the electorate are desperate to hear more of.
- The Conservative Party is still split whether there should be a hard or soft Brexit. There will likely always be this divide in the party but, they have to be careful at this election not to draw attention to it. If you’re campaigning with a key message of strong a stable leadership, the last thing you want is dissent in the ranks.
- The Labour Party faces a real challenge from UKIP. The Labour Party is generally in a mess. My colleague has written about what this election means for Labour. However, top line summary… Corbyn is not taken seriously as a Leader of the Party; let alone the country. Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop was first to say he will not be standing for re-election. There will likely be others who, frankly, won’t want to spend the next two months fighting for something they no longer believe in and don’t think they will win. It’s just utter chaos and, this is clear to pretty much anyone engaged in politics – even those outside of the Westminster bubble. Of course, not all Labour votes will transfer to the Conservatives. But UKIP is waiting in the wings and has a serious chance of pulling in some seats in the North of England. This is of course if UKIP can stop its own in-fighting!
- The Conservatives potentially have some ground to gain in Scotland. Yes, the SNP are going strong in Scotland. However, the Conservatives came second in the Scottish Elections in 2016 and we shouldn’t underestimate the increasing popularity of Ruth Davidson, Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party