So, a general election has been called. The Tories, according to a poll of polls published today by the BBC, are 18 points ahead of Labour, with 43% for the Conservatives and 25% for Labour. The poll gives the Lib Dems 10% and UKIP 11%, which would lead to speculation about how accurate these polls are.
In December 2016, only a few months ago, the Lib Dems overturned a majority of over 23,000 to defeat the Tories in the Richmond Park by-election – a big blow, and quite a turn around. A recent private poll by the Tories, as revealed by an article written by the Independent, and published just under two weeks ago, revealed that the Conservatives could lose up to 30 seats to the Liberal Democrats who, despite the recent poll of polls, are set to win big in the upcoming local elections, and now the general election.
The Conservatives did gain a majority in the 2015 General Election, but they gained it because Labour, despite gaining a net number of seats and increasing their share of the vote in England, lost out because Lib Dem voters switched to the Conservatives instead of coming back to Labour. The wipeout in Scotland for Labour wouldn’t have mattered for Ed Miliband if he beat the Tories by pulling Lib Dem voters back to Labour in England, as even if he didn’t gain an overall majority, a supply and demand arrangement with the SNP would have kept Labour comfortably in power, as they wouldn’t have disagreed on much.
The rise of the Lib Dems would result in the Conservatives potentially losing quite a number of key marginals as ex-Lib Dem voters would go back due to their anger against the Tories for Brexit (and potentially in large numbers as Richmond Park proved), and tactic voting by Labour and Green supporters to kick the Tories out in marginal Conservative-Lib Dem seats. Labour’s best hope is not to lose any seats to the Conservatives and to keep the gains they obtained in England from the 2015 General Election. The main concern is if the Copeland by-election is repeated across the country – key marginals being lost to the Tories, and the gains in England obtained in the previous general election being lost. If they keep the gains they made, and if Lib Dems gain big from the Tories, we could see Corbyn in No.10 – most likely in a coalition or a supply-demand arrangement with both or either with the SNP and the Lib Dems.
In Scotland, it seems not much or nothing will change – it isn’t worth speculating over potential situations that most likely will not occur. Wales, however, might see a surge of Labour support because despite the fact they voted for Brexit, the promise of an extra £350 million a week for the NHS being broken immediately after the referendum and the fact that E.U funding to Wales, which Wales receives quite a lot of, not being replaced by the Tories, might make many Welsh voters stick to Labour.
It’s also worthy to point out that the Labour Party have released a number of popular policies recently. As mentioned in our article published just yesterday, Labour are proposing to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour by 2020, which has an approval rating of 71%. Another one being to raise the top rate of income tax from 45p on the pound to 50p on incomes over £150,000 a year; this has an approval rating of 62%. They also propose to reintroduce Free school meals for all children, paid for by a VAT on private school fees, which has a 53% approval rating in the same poll, while 35% disagree and 12% saying they don’t know. These might gain votes for Labour in the run up to the election.
What is certain is that only two people can occupy No. 10 Downing Street – Theresa May, or Jeremy Corbyn. Do register to vote, and don’t forget the local elections on May 4th!
by Berk Bektas
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