Predicting voter behaviour in our current complex circumstances is a fools' game—but there are certain factors that will determine how the election plays outby Chaminda Jayanetti / October 31, 2019 / Leave a comment
The coming general election is set to be the most momentous in living memory—it is not an exaggeration to say it could determine the future of the British Union itself.
It is also set to be more volatile than any election this country has ever seen.
Predicting voter behaviour in the current circumstances is a fools’ game, but there are certain factors that will determine how the election plays out.
Everyone is a swing voter now
Almost everyone is a potential swing voter in 2019. The divisiveness of the two main party leaders, the incentive to vote tactically in numerous seats, and the realignment of voter behaviour along the Leave-Remain axis (and the independence-unionism axis in Scotland) means voter behaviour could change rapidly and with little national uniformity during the campaign. Nothing can be taken for granted.
At present, the two main parties are split on Brexit lines. The Tories have ruled out a formal pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, while a Labour-Lib Dem pact is not on the cards due primarily to the outright policy clashes and mutual loathing between the parties. However, against as divisive and inflammatory an opponent as Boris Johnson, local parties could reach tacit non-compete “understandings”—and Johnson’s reckless conduct has made tactical voting by Remainers much likelier.
Brexit v A&E
Conventional wisdom states that the Tories want to make this election about Brexit while Labour wants to make it about domestic concerns. The truth is a bit messier. Yes, the Tories will try and use voters’ desperation to ‘Get Brexit Done’ – but they will also foreground spending pledges on hospitals, schools and town regeneration funds, plus a tough line on law and order, to win over former Labour loyalists in key marginals in the Midlands and Wales.
These spending pledges make it harder for Labour to do what they’d prefer—rerun their anti-austerity campaign. So this time the party will run on a programme of transformational reform to redistribute not just wealth but power—’taking back control’—as well as emergency measures to tackle climate change. An NHS winter crisis blowing up during the campaign would be a gift to Labour. They want their Leave voters talking about anything but Brexit.
But Europe isn’t an allergen for Labour either – stopping…