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Analysis

We have a fight on our hands but the battle is not lost

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 01.12.2019

YouGov’s massive “MRP” model called the result of the 2017 election roughly correctly. The 2019 edition puts Boris Johnson on course for 359 seats, and a big majority of 68. This certainly means that pro-Europeans have a fight on our hands. It does not mean the battle is lost. 

If we are going to stop the Tories, everybody else needs to work together. The detailed breakdown shows the Conservatives winning eight seats from Labour by 1% or less. In two of these seats, they need a 21-point swing. The Conservatives are on course to win in these places because the anti-Brexit vote is divided. 

It’s a similar story in seats like Derby North, Kensington, Watford, and Rushcliffe, where the Conservatives are forecast to win despite a larger combined Labour and Liberal Democrat vote. If anti-Tory voters could unite behind a common candidate, Johnson’s hopes of winning this election would be toast. 

A sensible deal would benefit both parties. The Lib Dems could back off in Tory seats which Labour has a chance of winning as well as Labour-held ones. Meanwhile, Labour could back off in seats which the Lib Dems could gain from the Conservatives. 

The top targets should be Johnson and Dominic Raab. That’s why InFacts has launched two petitions – one calling on the Lib Dems to back off in Uxbridge so that Labour gets a free run against the Prime Minister; the other asking Labour to back off in Esher so the Lib Dems get a clean shot against the foreign secretary. 

In each case, the YouGov poll shows there’s a chance of a mega upset. In Esher, there’s extra evidence from today’s Deltapoll. It shows Raab on 46% with the Lib Dems on 41% and Labour on 9%. If voters believed it was a two-horse race between the Tories and Lib Dems, they would be neck and neck on 48%.

Jo Swinson and Jeremy Corbyn must decide what matters more: stopping Johnson from getting a majority, or fighting for the crumbs from his table. 

The Lib Dems in particular should consider the consequences of their decisions. They’ve spent the last three years positioning themselves as The Stop Brexit Party. How do they think voters will react if they get caught up in their egos and enable a Johnson Brexit?

What on earth are they doing fighting against David Gauke, the former Conservative Lord Chancellor who had the guts to quit the party because he opposed the Prime Minister and is now fighting for a new referendum? Today’s Deltapoll for his South West Hertfordshire constituency shows him languishing on 16%, with the Lib Dems on 13%. Together they’d be a long way off the Tory but it’s still crazy for Swinson to be fighting somebody who is an ally.

Pulling back 34 seats in 11 days, as required under the YouGov model, is achievable – particularly with the late surge in voter registration and potential for higher than expected young voter turnout. But unless we work together and vote tactically, Johnson will win. 

So, Corbyn and Swinson, stop being tribal and put the national interest first.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

5 Responses to “We have a fight on our hands but the battle is not lost”

  • It is depressing seeing passionate anti Brexit candidates standing against one another. This is just handing it to Johnson on a plate.

    Labour Lib Dems and Greens all have to take the blame for this. Why the Lib Dems selected a new candidate in Canterbury when their first candidate stood down to help a strong pro EU Labour candidate is beyond me. Similarly, there is a real chance of the doctrinaire Brexit fanatics, Dominic Raab and John Redwood being defeated by Lib Dems in Esher and Walton and Wokingham, but no sign of Labour standing down. In Beaconsfield and elsewhere there are Greens standing, which will weaken the chances of the excellent Dominic Grieve being elected, a man whose legal expertise may again be needed to help prevent a Government steamrollering its narrow agenda through.
    Obviously the final deed falls to the voters as to where they put their cross, and I will probably reluctantly vote for the Labour candidate, because he seems to be ahead of the Lib Dem in being able to defeat the hardline Pro WTO Tory fanatic.

    However, it would make our choice alot easier, if the anti Brexit candidates themselves were better at working together. No doubt, if Johnson and the Tories win, there will be plenty of post mortem blame games amongst the other parties,
    but by then it will just be academic anyway.

  • They all put their own self interested and narrow motives first. It’s either personal aspiration or fear of being accused of upsetting some of the diehards in their parties. Swinson would’ not work with Corbyn and Corbyn won’t work with Lib Dem’s or anyone else it would seem. He does not want to ruin his chances of becoming PM. Oh, no.
    There are umpteen anti Brexit pressure groups all paddling their own canoe asking us via a deluge of emails to ‘chip in’. No one has been able to gel all these groups together because they, too, are putting self interest first. They tell politicians to put the country first when they, themselves, are not prepared to do likewise. They call it hypocrisy.

  • This all reflects our dysfunctional politics – too many politicians are simply incompetent. There is no way Labour & the Lib-Dems should have agreed to the election – the ‘right way round’ was to get a 2nd EU referendum (deal vs remain) agreed first. And, in the aftermath of that, to have the general election.

    As events are now unfolding Brexit will be decided by the election result. And Johnson can get a workable majority on maybe just 35% of the vote. So that would be Brexit pushed through by a 35% result. A shambles alright