UK Election: May’s Mandate Munted

Unelected Tory PM Theresa May called an early general election on April 18th, saying that she needed a mandate for Brexit. At the time, it was hailed as a masterstroke and it was assumed the Conservatives would romp to victory. But now … not so much.

Current polling suggests that her margin of victory will be slim to non-existent and the actual mandate for leaving Europe that her predecessor David Cameron unintentionally won in 2015 will evaporate.

Mark my words, this election is going to be a disaster for the right in England, even if May scrapes home. The rest of Britain will continue to vote for others, as they usually do.

UKIP will cease to be a force in British politics (and they’ve already lost nearly every council seat they previously held). Their only practical function will be to drain votes from the Tories. The current polls show UKIP’s vote halving from around 10%, with some going to the Conservatives. However, it appears that some of their working class support has reverted to Labour.

One irony of May’s situation is that support for her party has actually increased by 2% since April. It’s just that Labour has done much, much better.

Britain, outside England, will continue to reject Brexit, and there will be a significant softening of the right’s vote in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I expect the vote for the small local parties in NI and Wales to increase, though that may not deliver more seats. The antiquated and undemocratic ‘first past the post’ system is intended to deliver monolithic results and that smothers most smaller parties.

In Scotland, I believe Labour will make small gains against the Nationalists, though the overall seat distribution won’t markedly change. The SNP simply hasn’t delivered for Scotland yet, but there is still considerable goodwill toward Nicola Sturgeon. It would be asking a lot for Labour to turn that around.

What is going to happen overall is that the Tories will probably ‘win’ by 5-10 seats with the help of the Irish right parties and a resurgent Labour will pick up 10-15 seats, still well shy of becoming the Government.

A word of caution though; the polls aren’t always right.

The Conservatives currently have a working majority of 17 in the 650 seat parliament. Any result less than that will not only be a rejection of Theresa May, it will bring into question whether Brexit should be pursued at all.

Jeremy Corbyn has said he won’t stand down post-election and on these numbers, he’d be right to stay.  There’s almost certainly going to be a call for another referendum on Europe and Labour will have the luxury of watching the right tear itself apart over the matter.

Even if he loses, Jeremy Corbyn is going to be the big winner on June 8.


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