With a General Election looming, the Conservatives are seemingly riding high in the polls, surfing on the public’s anger directed towards Parliament. Johnson is cast as the hero, battling the House of Commons and Speaker but being thwarted at every turn. As John Longworth’s article says, we are close to “endgame”. However, it may not be the endgame the Tories are hoping for.
Have we seen this all before? If you recall, PM May called a General Election (GE) in similar circumstances to Johnson, she too was riding high in the polls, then fell flat, and never recovered.
Some are predicting a Johnson landslide, I am predicting the complete opposite and here’s why. The Conservatives are close to making the same mistakes as 2017, this next GE will be all about Brexit, regardless of any manifesto.
1) Johnson has declared that he will campaign in a GE for his deal treaty.This, in my view, is a catastrophic misjudgement. Essentially, what he has done is take the
‘No deal’ WTO deal out of his campaign armoury and gifted it to Farage and the Brexit Party (TBP). He could have easily sat on his fence, and probably come out all right. Now, there is clear difference between his vision and that of Farage. What if the public don’t like his BRINO deal and want a clean break? If the menu choice is voting for a clean break Brexit, or Johnson’s BRINO, it will very costly for Johnson. This has essentially split his leave vote. Even if Johnson does a U-turn, the damage has been done. Notice how the Tories have gone quiet on the Brexit bill, I expect the £39 billion to play a prominent role in the GE. You can just picture the picture on the bus now…
2) Johnson’s credibility surely is questionable. Here with the fisheries, here with the DUP, here and here with regard to NI companies trading with mainland, then with his new
completely rehashed May Johnson deal, here with veterans and of course with Brexit Day, October 31st. He may have managed to avoid difficult questions so far from a compliant MSM, however on a TV debate he may become unstuck. Johnson has created so much ammunition for his opponents by his own actions, a clever political operator will easily exploit these.
3) Johnson has refused an offer of an electoral pact with the Brexit Party. This means that the Conservatives will go head to head with the party most likely to haemorrhage their vote in potentially every constituency. This will be crucial, especially in marginal seats. As we saw with Peterborough, this split cost a potential leave MP a seat. The other impact would be former Labour votes in the north will have a more palatable voting option with TBP, rather than the Tories. Essentially the Tories will be unable to win any former Labour seats.
Labour will fare the worst and I expect a total collapse in their vote outside the cities. The Liberals too are worried that the traditionally remain university towns will now have smaller student population come the election. I suspect though, there will be campaigns run to encourage both voting registration and to delay the return home till after Thursday.
4) In Scotland I suspect the Tories will pretty much lose all of their seats. Dog-whistle politics and socialism are effective weapons here and the SNP have been ramping up their ‘Independence’ rhetoric. I expect a big push for a second referendum. The Liberals could potentially do well there, especially with those Scots fed up with Nicola Sturgeon. Ironically the areas where the Tories would have had a chance, such as the fishing communities will now vote TBP, as Johnson’s deal betrays the fishermen contrary to what he said. His deal will come under intense scrutiny up to the election. In Scotland we could be looking at a sizeable return for the Liberals.
5) In Wales the Tories will struggle and this could be prime ground for the TBP. I don’t expect the Conservatives to garner much support, and I fully expect the Labour vote to collapse. With Labour now reliant on clutching at straws, hoping to farm brainwashed youngsters or EU citizens it shows how desperate and afraid they are. This behaviour is very telling and I could see Labour’s overall vote ending up in the ‘teens’.
6) Northern Ireland: the DUP and wider unionism will be in shock over Johnson’s betrayal in his deal with the EU. With the EU effectively annexing NI with Johnson’s consent, I suspect this will further polarise the vote and more people will vote for the DUP than ever before. Additionally with the introduction of imposed abortion laws, the DUP (the opposers of this change) may gain votes from traditionally conservative Catholic families due to this. A full compliment of DUP MPs will impact a hung Parliament. With the relationship between the DUP and Tories at it lowest since the Anglo Irish Agreement, this time I suspect the rift will be permanent. In the event of a hung Parliament, if you were a DUP MP, would you support Johnson? I certainly wouldn’t.
7) Johnson has no intention of ‘draining the swamp’. He is no UK Donald Trump. He has welcomed the Remainer trouble-maker MPs back into the fold. This is another warning to anyone thinking that Johnson wants a proper Brexit. This, in my opinion is another calamitous error on his campaign teams part. Knowing the public’s seething anger towards these Brexit wreckers, what type of reaction does he expect? Does he think people will just vote for them because they have a blue rosette?
After Grieve, Soubry et al the public have had enough of these types. Why banish them from the fold to begin with when you never had any intention to get rid of them? Some remainers MPs like Rudd have wisely decided not to stand. As for the prodigals, even Douglas Carswell has identified this as an error. The comments section alone are worth a look. What will the constituents make of the Tories standing the same Brexit wreckers? This is sheer arrogance, I certainly would not vote for them as a leaver; and looking at the candidate selection mistake May made with the Brecon election, it seems Johnson is following suit.
8) Just like May before him, Johnson seems obsessed with polls. If I were Conservative Central Office I would be concerned with this. This drop is before campaigning has begun. When Johnson is exposed to a proper debate, and when the full implications of his treaty come into the open public domain, his vote share will tumble I could see the Tory voting percentage down to 26%. Our election choices are freedom, servitude or remain. If I were Nigel Farage I would be relishing facing Johnson in a live TV debate. We could be heading for a hung parliament unless Johnson does a deal with Farage. There are going to be big shocks in this election and it seems no lessons have been learnt for 2017.
Time to relax and grab the popcorn friends.