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Just a little bit of history repeating?

October 20th, 2019

Why I’m not betting on a Tory landslide at the next election.

In recent weeks it seems we get regular polling, like the tweet atop this article, on leadership ratings and preferred Prime Minister that shows a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour party are going to experience a comprehensive electoral defeat at the next general election.

Yet my mind goes back to early 2017 when Jeremy Corbyn trailed Theresa May by even larger margins as we see in the chart below, taken from a thread I wrote back in February 2017 where I said the leadership figures ‘tend[ed] to presage an absolute shellacking for a Corbyn led Labour party at a general election, to use a popular culture reference, at the next general election a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour party is set to play the role of Anastasia Steele to the electorate’s Christian Grey.’ My prediction turned out be spectacularly wrong.

Boris Johnson doesn’t lead Corbyn as much Theresa May did, in fact he trails with those who voted Remain in 2016 whereas Theresa May comfortably led with that demographic back in early 2017.

Other pollsters have found that Boris Johnson and the government has become unpopular in days and weeks when it took years for other Prime Ministers and government to achieve such poor ratings. So Boris Johnson starts from a much lower position than Theresa May before you factor in Boris Johnson starts with far fewer Tory MPs than Mrs May did when she lost David Cameron’s majority.

So if Corbyn can repeat his performance from the last election then Boris Johnson can see the Tories being forced from office, with Boris Johnson betraying the DUP and his previous assurances about a border in the Irish Sea then he is unlikely to have any friends in a future hung Parliament.

It is possible for Boris Johnson to lose his leads if events happen, from the economy, and or Brexit, going sub-optimal. He could also perform badly during the campaign, after all he dodged many debates during the Tory leadership election, something he might repeat during a general election campaign.

There’s also the potential for scandal around Boris Johnson that could engulf him during an election campaign. It isn’t difficult to imagine how the Jennifer Arcuri story dominates said campaign. Given how awfully the police handled the VIP paedophile case a case involving the sitting Prime Minister of the United Kingdom being investigated by the police might turn out bad for Boris Johnson even if he’s innocent.

One of the most expensive sentences in the English language is ‘Next time it will be different’ and that is something that is influencing my betting outlook on the next general election because Corbyn likes campaigning in a way no other current party leader seems to enjoy. A former political strategist pointed out to me whilst Corbyn might be unpopular his policies, such as rail nationalisation and higher taxes for the wealthy, are not. So that’s why I’m not writing off Labour at the next election.

There’s a danger that I’m fighting the last war but if you’re not sure then wisest cause of action is not to bet which is what I will do for the time being. The election could take place later on this year or in 2022 only makes predicting the outcome even more difficult.

TSE