Final Observations - General Election 2017

Only a fool predicts an election result nowadays. The classic shared error was 1997.

Every player in the game assumed a 50-seat majority for Labour by the time polling day came around. The circle around Blair were busy in that final week being exceptionally nice to the Soft Left bloc on the assumption that they would need to stop them uniting with the Hard Left Campaign Group to pull the Government away from New Labour's 'business model'. They need not have bothered on two grounds - it was a landslide and the Soft Left always loathed the Hard Left in any case. The rest is history.

We could wait just 48 hours but we decided to add to the ultimately futile excitement today, making not predictions but observations - things to look out for as the news comes in tomorrow late evening. The first is that opinion polls really are no good for anything other than patterns. We covered this in our last posting when we noted how the Tory Party appeared to come unstuck over just four days - from May 15th to May 18th. In fact, Labour's consequent momentum appeared to stall on June 1st for reasons that are still unclear. The 'tracker' gap then stayed solid at around 5.5-5.7%.

Most expert commentators see this as bringing a Tory majority. Electoral Calculus has this at 72 based on the polling from May 24th to June 4th. Its 'updated battleground' has a weaker majority but still a majority even amongst low end pollsters. The public has to some extent, the Labour activists certainly, been misled a little by the social media and headline fascination with outlier polls that give Labour levels of support much higher than most others do. So, our question has to be: what factors might wreck Tory expectations on the day and give us a Hung Parliament or even a Labour majority.

Labour activists and the media are putting a lot of emphasis on the youth vote. It is assumed that the high level of young voter registrations will tip the balance and confound the pollsters. There may be something in this but we cannot assume that all youngsters are Labour supporters - one articulate youngster on a TV debate last night lambasted Labour for threatening to pile more debt on his generation and he got a round of applause. But the issue may be that these young votes are in already safe Labour seats in London and in the university towns where they are not needed.

Then there is the social care issue issue that helped shift the terms of electoral trade against Labour in that critical May 15th/18th period. This may have pushed many older people and worried families into accepting Corbyn's socialist economics but the Tories made no further blunders. These fears and anxieties had probably been factored in by the time the current gap had stabilised. Labour needs more people to be frightened by austerity than are frightened by high national debt and increased taxation. This balance of fears restored Labour to credibility but perhaps not enough for power.

But the issue is decided in the marginals where Tory organisation is concentrated. Anecdotal reports from many sources all seem to be saying the same thing about those in the Midlands and the North - that a chunk of the working class really dislikes Corbyn (or perhaps it is London liberals they dislike) and has maintained its strong feelings about Brexit. Best guess (it can be no more) is that Labour will do better than expected in London and the South East but that this will be heavily offset by marginals elsewhere. No predictions then but a 'feeling' that Labour is going to have a highly creditable loss.