Christmas Eve Shopping …
It feels a bit like Christmas Eve: politicians and MSM rushing around, doing their ‘last minute shopping’ before the shop doors close. There’s panic buying, i.e. stunts, there are last-minute-appeals, and there are ‘predictions’ galore.
There was also ‘that’ final poll. Depending on which way your paper or their opinion writers lean, it’s either going to be a disaster – or it’s going to be a disaster. One is a Labour government, the other a hung Parliament:
“YouGov’s final MRP model predicts that the Conservatives will win 339 seats, with Jeremy Corbyn’s party on 231 and the Liberal Democrats on 15. The seat-by-seat model, which is based on thousands of interviews, puts the Tories on 43 per cent of the vote and Labour on 34 per cent. […] YouGov warned that the margin of error could put the Tory seat total as low as 311, which would mean another hung parliament.” (link)
Another, non-paywalled report is here, and The Times has this to say:
“The polling model that accurately predicted the election outcome two years ago suggests that the Conservatives are on course to win 339 seats, Labour 231, the Liberal Democrats 15 and the Scottish National Party 41. Although that would give Mr Johnson a majority of 28, the poll’s range of possible outcomes stretches from 367 Tory seats to only 311. “Based on the model we cannot rule out a hung parliament,” Anthony Wells, YouGov’s director of political research, said.” (link, paywalled)
That’s an amazingly precise ‘prediction’ – not! A bit like weather forecasts, or ‘Climate Crisis’ predictions … It’s astonishing though that one report at least mentions this strange beast called ‘margin of error’ – something never to be mentioned because it might confuse us plebs.
These poll reports illustrate clearly what we politics nerds have been saying for a long time: they are used by the MSM to nudge or scare voters into voting ‘the right way’. How good this prediction is (not!) is described by Sir John Curtice who goes on to talk about exit polls:
“Sir John, a professor of politics at the university of Strathclyde, said that the margin between a hung Parliament and a Boris Johnson victory is so small that even a “good” exit poll may not reveal the result. “Because this is so much of a knife-edge election – it’s not really about who wins, it’s whether Boris wins or not – we could give you quite a good exit poll but we still won’t know what the political implications are.” He added: “We think that maybe they’re going to get 322 seats. But if in the end they get 327 – perfectly good exit poll, but it’s Tory largest party and we’re out of the EU. Conversely 317 seats, a very good exit poll, it probably means hung parliament, Boris Johnson out and we’re going to apply for an extension or to hold a second EU referendum.” (link, paywalled)
Now remember – this is RemainCentral speaking to Sir John Curtice, so Brexit, or rather Remain, had to be smuggled in! That same RemainCentral, a.k.a. The Times, had commissioned an extra special poll just for themselves, where we read:
“Voters are tiring of Brexit as concern about the NHS grows, polling for The Times suggests […] Health is now level with leaving the EU as the main issue in the election, as voters reject the Tories’ attempt to put the focus on “getting Brexit done”. At the start of the campaign Brexit had a 28-point lead as the most important issue but it has faded in importance. Now 51 per cent of voters cite it as a key issue, down from 68 per cent at the beginning of November. Mr Corbyn’s attempt to turn attention to the NHS has resulted in a ten-point jump to 50 per cent of voters citing health as important in deciding their vote. Crime and the environment have also slipped in voters’ minds and the London Bridge terrorist attack has not led them to prioritise defence and security, mentioned by only 7 per cent.” (link, paywalled)
This result is actually quite interesting because there are still 51% of voters for whom Brexit is the key issue. However, that same paper reported another poll a few days ago according to which ‘people’ had paid more attention to that terrorist attack than to the GE, as we mentioned here. Again, the report quoted above shows that the modern-day equivalent of reading tea leaves is as valuable as it was in ye olden days: not very much.
Moreover, this finding raises the question if that image of the child lying on the floor in an NHS hospital has had anything to do with this swing in ‘concern’. Have Labour managed again to make ‘Our NHS’ the main election issue? Has this photo had the same effect on national politics as the one of that dead Turkish boy, a few years ago, which opened the floodgates to ‘refugees’ swarming into the EU? A photo which, after the effect, was found out to have been faked? Well, better not question this photo, in view of this report!
And so, like desperate husbands and boyfriends rushing to buy their presents on Christmas Eve (sorry, yes, this is sexist and only based on my personal, past experiences and thus statistically invalid!), there are last-minute rushes to influence us voters. It’s unprecedented though that former Labour MPs have written a Open Letter, published today across the Labour heartlands:
“Fifteen former Labour MPs have launched an unprecedented advertising campaign on the eve of the election urging voters not to back Jeremy Corbyn tomorrow. In a devastating open letter, they warn the Labour leader will deliver the opposite of a ‘safer, fairer society’, citing his record on anti-Semitism, extremism and national security. They declare the party is no longer the one they supported all their lives and warn the risk of Mr Corbyn getting into No 10 is ‘too great’.” (link)
Will this letter have a greater impact than the Tories’ ‘dead cat event’, of some Brexit Party MEPs leaving the Party and blaming Nigel Farage for wrecking Brexit by making possible a hung parliament? Or will it be too late? After all, postal votes have already been posted. And will there really be ‘Portillo Moments’ when the results come trundling in, with The Times predicting that:
“Dominic Raab is on the cusp of losing his seat to the Liberal Democrats while Theresa Villiers could be Labour’s biggest scalp, an analysis by YouGov indicates.” (link, paywalled)
Interestingly, RemainCentral coyly doesn’t mention the possible results for the arch remainers Grieve and Gauke who of course are not wrecking Remain by standing in their old constituencies.
For a bit of light relief, there’s a little sketch in the (paywalled) DT, on Johnson’s travels yesterday. Michael Deacon describes how ‘men dressed as bees’ attacked the Johnson campaign bus:
“The men were from Extinction Rebellion, the environmentalist protest group whose members have spent much of this year disrupting political events – typically via imaginative use of industrial-strength glue. On Tuesday evening, true to form, they glued the palms of their hands to the front of the Tory battle bus. Police were called, while the bees – still stuck fast to the front of the bus – granted interviews to the media. “I don’t want to be standing in the freezing cold and pouring rain, glued to a bus,” insisted one bee solemnly, twisting itself round to face the cameras. “But we have no other option.” (paywalled link)
Of course, when stunts are one’s only ‘argument’ there are no other options … though I hope these ‘bees’ had a thoroughly miserable time before the police were able to release them.
Their ‘attack’ however is symptomatic for this whole GE campaign: stunts and photo-ops by the contestants, pseudo-debates on telly used by the ‘comperes’ to embig themselves, polls used blatantly as campaign material, no debate about the main issue: Johnson’s ‘oven-ready deal’, with TBP party being painted as the real enemy of Johnson rather than Labour’s Remain proposals.
Both parties have kept their top names out of the limelight as much as possible – anyone remember Keith Starmer? Diane Abbot? Jacob Rees-Mogg? – thus fuelling the MSM’s intent of turning the GE into a US-style presidential election and curtailing proper debates.
Well, tomorrow it’s our turn – tomorrow we have our say in the only ‘opinion poll’ that matters. I hope the main combatants are going to chew their fingernails to the elbows, waiting for the results. For once, there’s nothing they can do. It’s up to us – so go to the polls tomorrow and
Photo by Su–May