The UK Election Gamble
by George Hatjoullis
The UK Parliament has 650 seats. The Speaker’s seat is uncontested and takes no part in-house voting so it is effectively 649. In addition Sinn Fein absent themselves. At the moment the make up is;
The Bar 12
Sinn Fein 4
The DUP and UUP typically vote with the Cons which bumps up their vote to 340. Sinn Fein abstain which limits the potential votes against to 305. The Cons have a comfortable effective majority. The election could not however have been called without the agreement of the Labour Party.
The betting this morning has Cons gaining 45 seats, Labour losing 58, LibDems gaining 27 and SNP losing 4 seats. This does rather beg the question as to why Labour enabled the election (I have offered an explanation in my previous blog The Madness of King Jeremy). The betting implies a huge swing to the LibDems who typically emerge with 10-14% of the voting intention share in the polls. The opinion polls have not served the gambler well in recent elections so perhaps there is a steepening learning curve here. There is also a huge area of uncertainty.
The LibDems are promoting themselves as the party of Remain. They are not about to ignore the referendum result. This is no longer possible as parliament effectively validated and ratified the referendum. However, they are taking a glass half full approach to the negotiations in contrast to the government. The latter will put any deal to a vote in parliament but with the proviso that if it is rejected the UK will leave the EU with no deal; Hard Brexit. The LibDems are promising that if the deal is rejected we will remain in the EU. If Brexit is the compelling issue of election then it is a straight choice between voting Cons or LibDem. The betting thus makes some sense. It does not make enough sense though. If the election is a straight choice between the LibDems and Cons on Brexit the LibDems should logically make much bigger gains. My guess is that as the election unfolds the betting odds will move in favour of LibDem seats.
The Labour Party has declared that the election is not about Brexit and has set out a left-wing manifesto. The Labour leadership has enabled Brexit and this election. It has used the whips to force pro-Remain Labour MPs to support the leadership position. The leadership is proceeding as if Brexit is done and desirable and only their left-wing agenda matters. Remain Labour voters thus face a dilemma. Should they ignore Party and vote for the LibDem position on Brexit? Judging by the many conversations that I have had since the election was called, some very personal and heated, Labour Remain voters are in denial. They want tactical voting agreements with LibDem and Green voters. This is not possible. With Corbyn as leader a vote for Labour is a vote for the Cons position on Brexit. If there is tactical voting it will have to be one-way; Labour Remain voting for LibDems. If it transpires this way (big if of course) then the LibDem seat gains could be 4 or 5x what is expected. The trade for the gambling gender neutral person is buy LibDem seats.