both as “likely Conservative”, where “likely…” is their mid-point between
“leaning…” and “safe…”. Nonetheless, the table shows that in the first example,
either Labour or the LibDems might win on the published figures; and in the
second, the Tories have it locked in by only a single percentage point. Figures
like these will encourage the laggards to press on with tactical voting.
So to the endgame.
The campaign’s last two weeks take place before unusually hostile voters. They remember sixteen years of disappointments from those they trusted: all the way
from the original “dodgy dossier”, to “not fixing the roof while the sun
shined”, to Blair getting rich from his Rolodex, to the bust banks, to the
expenses scandal, to celeb sexual predators, to “there’s no money left”, to the
LibDems’ bait-and-switch on student fees, to austerity, to uncontrolled
immigration, to botched Universal Credit. So many see the last parliament as a
culmination of these failings that they are in no mood to entertain new
promises. The Tories have responded best by pledging least. They must also be
thanking their lucky stars that the last parliament’s dithering and their own
new leader have blunted the barb of incumbency. Even so, they should not doubt
the voters’ eagerness to punish any hint of hubris, eg, Boris ducking his own
Andrew Neil moment.
LibDems are rowing back from the own-goal of their revoke stance. Swinson’s new
play is to aim off Brexit, turning to Johnson’s broken promises. This risks another
mishap, evoking her party’s own bad faith with the voters - betraying the
students and frustrating the referendum.
The Brexit Party
will be giving mind to YouGov’s figures pointing to the threat it poses to Tory
wins in Labour marginals in the North and Midlands. The Tories may hate Farage,
but he is a keen tactician and it would be rash to rule out explicit or tacit
Labour has seen
the brink. It is now to relaunch its campaign to focus on its base rather than
go after Tory marginals. The party needs to avoid alienating metropolitan
Leavers, so expect a bolstered retail offer to Remainers. Labour’s problem is
its Santa Claus manifesto: how can Corbyn say, “No honestly, we really mean
The Tories may
comfort themselves that they have avoided disasters so far. Nonetheless, there
are plenty of risks ahead. They must avoid the appearance of complacency to the
voters, let alone an outbreak of the real thing among activists. Trump is
coming, introducing additional incalculable uncertainty. Boris remains his
party’s best calling-card but halfway in, he must strike a balance between
blowing it and bottling it. Sleepless nights all round.