View from the Margins

Politics from a 'Marginal Constituency’ by Andy Reed

With just a week to go it is still difficult to call this election. On the surface it looks as though the Tory lead has remained quite solid and small majority is on the cards.

There has been little movement for either of the main parties once they all settled down in the low 40%s and low 30%. This will of course steady the nerves for the Tories and in equal measure worry Labour that the 2017 ‘surge’ isn’t materialising this time.

This Savanta- ComRes Poll shows the 10% lead largely remains (within the margin of error)

So if things stayed the same we might see a smallish Tory majority. But why this last week is important is simply because at this level of support we are within the margin of error of being in hung parliament territory again! because of the vagaries of the FPTP system the Tories probably need to be 6%+ ahead in the polls to be in majority territory.

Of course there are the usual caveats about Polls and reading too much into them. But when they reflect the conversations you are having daily they do reflect a mood. I know a series of readers who instantly dismiss them (unless of course a rogue one confirms their own bias) and they should only be used as part of the context. But they are one tool used to look at the campaigns, backed up by focus groups and good old fashioned door knocking.

When you strip out the party faithful and solid voters for both Labour and the Tories you end up in the same worrying conversation with those in the centre and centre left. They are people really uncertain what to do for the first time in their voting lives.

There is a general consensus that the country is broken. They don’t like or trust Boris and want to do what they can to prevent a Tory majority government. In the past the answer was simple. Vote Labour. But the worrying part about the second part of the conversation is – oh but I can’t vote for Corbyn either. And as we have seen the appeal of the Lib Dems has slipped during the campaign. ‘Others’ have swept up some voters from this malaise, but I suspect there are still many in the Don’t Know who are really genuine this time. That’s why it’s still hard to know what will happen in 7 days time. We used to assume Don’t Know were often against put too polite to say!

The new politics means people aren’t tied to parties by economics alone. Brexit and social attitudes have changed the dynamics and no major party has quite grasped what this means for their own coalition of members and voters. It does mean when you listen to those awful Vox Pops the news broadcasters insist on pumping out – you do hear those who would suffer economically under the Tories have this trumped by their views on Brexit and their social conservatism. It was so hard listening to a Food Bank user this week explaining they would vote Tory because they liked what Boris was saying.

There are still 7 days for something to change the dynamic of this rather lacklustre campaign. But nothing that can be predicted will materially alter the polling.

Of course the weather hasn’t played a major part in the campaigning yet on the ground (although the floods highlighted the debate around public expenditure on flood defences). But the Parties will be watching the weather forecast for the 12th carefully. It isn’t looking good at the moment!

Although of course with postal voters – many will have already cast their votes. The last week of the campaign is irrelevant for them – unless they get buyers remorse!

More of the same seems to be switching off voters not inspiring them. The general Election is rarely the lead story on the news and even I have become totally bored by the increasingly desperate claims from the main parties over the last week. My heart sinks as Labour generates fantasy figures and more giveaways. They all look individually appealing but combined they make them look desperate and flamboyant with the nations finances. Their figures worry me – so I can imagine what they do to a sensible floating voter. It may be ‘boring’ but in times of uncertainty most people want to be reassured. The 3’Rs’ of a campaign for the left remain true – Remind, Reassure and Reward.

The size of the problems facing the country do need a response as big as the ambitions set out by Labour. But I fear their ambitious and radical rhetoric will be scaring off the sort of voters they need to be winning over. It works for the party activists and party faithful but not those who pay little attention to politics. And I am afraid to say whilst the Corbyn fans will hear none of it – but Corbyn is the major factor in holding back the swithcher votes needed for a Labour government. In the end I suspect many of those wanting to prevent a Johnson Government will hold their nose and vote for the best candidate to beat the Tories locally, and this will boost the Labour polling and help the Lib Dems perform slightly better in seat numbers than their polling suggests.

In Loughborough the evidence is pretty clear. It is a straight Tory – Labour marginal. There wasn’t much left of the Lib Dem and Green vote to squeeze so this will all come down to the final week of the ‘air war’ backed up with the ground campaigns turning out their voters. Weather permitting.

It’s going to be a long week!

2 thoughts on “Have the Campaigns Run Out of Steam?

  1. Guru Singh says:

    Great analytical thoughts there Andy. Just to add to the many unknown factors – what is the weather going to do on the day? Forecast is dry, cold of 4C but high wind chill factor with strong winds. But it changes every time you look at it!

    In the final push it will all depend on getting the anti Tory vote out.

    1. Good spot. I was going to mention that and forgot! I will add a paragraph and the fact that postal votes will mean people have already voted!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: