The Brexit countdown has been replaced by the election ticker! While still to clear the House of Lords today, last night MPs voted for an early general election, an attempt by the prime minister to unblock the Brexit impasse in the Commons. Now after two years of Westminster/Brussels Brexit, it and a few other issues are going to be back in the hands of the UK electorate. The most defining election in modern politics will take place on Thursday 12 December.
The nature of this election will be further analysed, we expect manifestos from the main parties in the next week or two, when the campaign officially starts. This is the first December election since 1923, the risk of hard weather dialling up vulnerability in the NHS, or even disrupting the election itself is a great gamble. Expect the most digital election ever, not just because of the winter months but all parties have sharpened their online capabilities. As we have seen in recent elections, fewer voters are committed along party lines, the degree to which we can trust national polling and look to greater value of more targeted opinion survey. This election will be hard-fought seat by seat, perhaps with the emergence of more independent candidates or voters aligning with issues.
Yes, Brexit will be a central issue, but Labour will hope that its ‘radical’ manifesto for public services will resonate, not least because the party’s Brexit position remains hard to explain. The Liberal Democrats hope that a clear remain position will starve Labour and the Conservatives of urban seats in the south of England and put them in the race for the Scottish Tory seats against an embedded Scottish National Party. The Conservatives have been preparing for a general election since the summer, with manifesto writing already happening, successful fundraising in full swing, and a disciplined approach to candidate selection. The key campaign strategist will also be looking to not repeat the mistakes of 2017, with the leader being absent from the public eye and a lack of clear domestic policies.
The H+K Political + Public Affairs team are here to navigate the general election, what it means for this next defining period of British politics and the opportunity for us all to shape the debate.