Unite or Die

27 November 2019


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Tories on Target for Majority, Possibly


There are 15 more days until Britons cast their ballots in yet another general election. The first-past-the-post system of determining the winner as well as the multitude of parties these days make forecasting an outcome tricky at best. The traditional way of measuring these things involve a swing from one party to another, assumptions about turnout and about the composition of the electorate and comparisons with previous elections. Models abound, and there is no dearth of nationwide polls. Based on the figures currently published, the models suggest that the Conservatives will win the election with a majority of seats in the House. One must take this with a grain or several of salt, however. The polls cannot account for tactical voting, and if their assumptions about the electorate's composition are wrong, the prediction can only be correct by accident. However, the key to stopping Mr. Johnson is tactical voting.

The press published five different polls on Sunday, and the rankings of the parties was the only thing that appeared to be consistent: Tories, Labour, LibDems, Brexit, and others. The ranges for support were: Tories (41-47%), Labour (28-32%), LibDem (12-18%) and Brexit (3-5%).

The situation in Scotland needs to be treated separately because of the overwhelming strength of the Scottish National Party north of the Cheviots and its non-existance elsewhere in the UK. The Sunday Times has done the only Scottish poll so far: Conservatives 28%, Labour 20%, LibDems 11%, SNP 40%, Brexit 1%.

Wales has had just one poll, taken at the beginning of November and done by YouGov. Their results were: Conservatives 28%, Labour 29%, LibDems 12%, Brexit 15%, Plaid Cymru 12%.

It is dangerous to use old data, but the alternative is no data at all. The UKPollingReport.co.uk has a model that allows to input data from Scotland and Wales separately. ElectoralCalculus.co.uk does as well.

In the case of the former, utilizing the lowest Tory number and the highest numbers for the other parties, the results are: Tories 342 seats, Labour 217 seats, SNP 41, Lib-Dems 26, and others 24.

Using the ElectoralCalculus model with the same inputs, one gets: Tories 330 seats, Labour 234, LibDems 24, SNP 41, Plaid Cymru 3, and 18 seats in Northern Ireland that no one seems to want to model nor poll.

In both of these cases, the Conservatives would win a majority. In the first instance, the majority is 34. In the latter, it's a Tory majority of 10. This model can be further tweaked by allowing for tactical voting. Interestingly, if just 15% of Labour and 15% of LibDem supporters vote tactically, the Conservatives wind up a seat short of a majority.

The message is clear. The anti-Tory vote, which is not the same as the Remain vote, needs to unite where the Tories could squeak through with pluralities if Labour and LibDems don't get behind the same candidate. Moreover, that is the difference between Boris Johnson winning a majority and jamming Brexit through on his terms and a parliament that will deliver soft-Brexit or even no Brexit at all.

The trouble is that the parties don't seem to want to do that. The Labour Party, which still seems to believe that it is entitled to every non-Tory vote by the grace of God, condemns the LibDems for their participation in the coalition government that brought about austerity (a legitimate charge). Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats cannot stand Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (also legitimate) and would only agree to an electoral pact if he stepped aside. The LibDems did forebear to bring up Labour's coalition with George W. Bush and the attack on Iraq 16 years ago -- apparently, there is an expiration date on disastrous moral failing which the Con-Lib government has not reached yet.

The upshot is that the next two weeks must be devoted to unifying the non-Tory vote. One is confident Mr. Johnson would lose if that were to happen. One is almost equally certain that Mr Johnson will win. One has no faith that the non-Tories are willing to bury the hatchet.

© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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