10.00pm GMT December 12th 2019
The Exit Poll
This is what will frame the entire election night. If the exit poll says more than 335 Conservative MP’s (Con maj 20+) then every single Conservative will say “It is only an exit poll, but given the accuracy of the past three exit polls, I think it is clear that our core message of “Get Brexit Done” has resonated with the British people and we can now enact the referendum result of June 2016″.
Between 321 and 335 Conservative MP’s (Con maj 2 – 20) then expect a little bit of contrition stating that “although every single Conservative MP has signed up to the deal, Britain has stated that it believes Brexit should be done, which we shall, but that cross party discussions on the future should be heeded”
Between 314 and 321 Conservative MP’s (Con majority dependent on DUP) then don’t expect any Conservative commentary until the first result is announced bar “This is just an exit poll, they have been accurate in the past but let us wait until we get some actual results”
Less than 313 and watch those Conservatives panic.
The great electoral battle is on. Newcastle Central vs Houghton and Sunderland South. Dethroned by Newcastle Central in 2017 by seven minutes, you can beat your bottom dollar Houghton will throw everything into getting back on top, but there’s a problem. It is a northern Labour LEAVE seat, a key Conservative target. Will an increase in turnout in such areas cause them to cede the title to Newcastle Central again or could North Swindon (fourth to declare in 2017) take the crown and bring it down south for the first time since Torbay’s run that ended in 1992?
If there is a massive rejection of Labour in these northern LEAVE towns then the Conservatives will already be cheering a gain in Sunderland Central (11.08% swing needed to gain) but more likely it will be steady as she goes with no gains having been reported so far.
“Workington Man” the mascot of this election will now have his moment to shine. Needing only a 4.71% swing, a constituency that last voted Conservative in 1935, is a classic example of the “red wall” the Conservatives are hoping to demolish and if they do then Darlington (12.53am) will surely be next.
Wrexham and Down North will now be in a battle royale of their own, both aiming for a piece of electoral history. In Wrexham’s case the first Conservative MP since 1886 (which would happen on a swing of 2.61%) and in the case of Down North the first non unionist MP ever as the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland believe they can manage what just a few short years ago would have seem impossible.
Rutherglen and Hamilton West needs only a 0.26% swing from Lab to the SNP to turn it back into the SNP livery that it gained in 2015 and thus start a second SNP mini landslide.
If Wrexham goes to the Conservatives, then all eyes will be on Clwyd South (5.81% swing to Con) which if that goes will pretty much seal the deal, in other words, Clwyd South will be the new Nuneaton, but it is what happens next that could really get people talking
Putney. Lab gain in 1997, Con gain in 2005, Lib Dem gain in 2019? Well, it matches the seats the Lib Dems are aiming for (having recorded a 73% REMAIN vote in the referendum) but can the Lib Dems really rack up a 16.24% swing in a seat where Labour only need a 1.66% swing to gain the seat? If so, then things are shaping up for a major electoral moment later on.
Hartlepool is another part of Labour’s red wall, however everyone wants a piece of it. The Conservatives want a piece of it needing a 9% swing to gain, but so do the Brexit Party (and with a 70% LEAVE vote can you blame them) but who will be victorious? If it’s a Con GAIN, first Con MP since 1935, if it’s a Brexit Party GAIN will Richard Tice vote FOR the deal that Boris has achieved or vote against?
There has been one party noticeable by its absence so far and that’s the Lib Dems, but with South Cambridgeshire about to declare will their “REVOKE BREXIT” campaign start to catch light. A 17% swing to gain sounds like a classic Liberal Democrat by-election performance but having gained control of the council in 2018, seen the Conservative MP defect to them (via Change UK) in 2019 could the remarkable happen?
“Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this son of Beaconsfield!”. Yes, the Gaukeward squad make their appearance led off by Dominic Grieve in Beaconsfield. Will John Major’s endorsement at the weekend help him (and the others of his ilk standing against the official party candidate) continue the long line of non official party candidates beating the official party candidate (Merthyr Tydfil, Lincoln, Blyth, Falkirk West, Blaenau Gwent)?
In 1997 the question of the age was “Were you up for Portillo?” as the then Defence Secretary lost Enfield, Southgate to Labour, in 2015 it was “Were you up for Balls?” when the Shadow Chancellor lost his seat to the Conservatives, but in 2019 could it be “Were you up for Raab?” as the Foreign Secretary in REMAIN heartland Esher and Walton (58% REMAIN 42% LEAVE) is facing a battle against the Liberal Democrats and potentially open up a new career as a railway spotter or the next Strictly superstar.
By now at least half the seats should have declared and as well as the great red wall crumbling under the Conservative attack, another great wall could be under pressure the great brown wall of the Democratic Unionists as by now they could have lost every seat in Belfast (North to Sinn Fein, South to the SDLP and East to Alliance) and seen Antrim South go to the UUP. If that were to happen could Arlene Foster be the first major casualty of the night? If she were to announce her resignation as leader of the Democratic Unionists, then under the rules of the devolved institutions, she would also resign as First Minister of Northern Ireland and in doing so, unblock the logjam that has seen Stormont suspended for nearly three years.
If the polls are right, Boris and Jeremy will now have a good indication of how things are turning out. Boris will have proclaimed that “Brexit will be done” and Jeremy will be pondering whether to stand and fight (in the event of a small Conservative majority) or come to accept that not even Corbynism can impact Brexit.
Now, the mostly rural Conservative seats start to come in and if there is to be any huge Lib Dem revival, these are the seats where it will start to occur. Winchester (REMAIN 60%) declares at 5.12am and if it doesn’t go Liberal Democrat and the REMAIN alliance has failed, then Jo Swinson could be the next party leader to resign.
A Labour constituency that voted LEAVE by 70% that only needs a swing of 0.44% to go Conservative should be a shoe in for the Conservatives, yes? NO! For that is what Ashfield is, a seat that shocked Britain in 1977 by voting Conservative in a by-election, nearly went Liberal Democrat in 2010 and now could produce another shock by the election of the first ever local Independent MP (and after the Ashfield Independents demolition job in the locals back in May, it would be a very brave person to rule out the possibility completely).
As the sun starts to rise over the south coast, it is likely to do so on a completely transformed Britain and yet there could still be surprises in the pipeline. Could St. Ives have elected a Liberal Democrat MP despite voting LEAVE? Could North Cornwall (9.54am) and Wells (10.44am) follow suit? And could Kensington (which didn’t declare until 22 hours after the polls had closed in 2017) produce yet another surprise by electing its first Liberal Democrat MP since 1880? Whatever happens you can be sure that we at Political Betting will follow every little twist and turn. And for those of you suffering from electoral withdrawal symptoms, don’t worry, we have the London Assembly, London Mayoral, local elections and PCC elections in just 21 weeks time!