Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Here comes Workington man

We all remember the fictitious median voter, Worcester Woman, that David Cameron was supposed to target. Actually, I think it started as a joke by election guru Robert Worcester, but the media honed in on this thirty something woman in Worcester with children and working part-time.

Well now it is the era of 'Workington man', at least according to a Tory think tank: Boris Johnson must target Workington man

He lives in a Rugby League town in the north of England and is a traditional Labour voter who backs leave. Apparently, he 'favours security over freedom across both social and economic axes, but leans much more towards security on social issues'. He distrusts globalisation and neo-liberal Thatcherism does not appeal to him. It has to be said that the historic Conservative record in these towns is poor, but old loyalties are disappearing.

Vox pops always interest me in elections. They are completely unscientific, but they are one way of trying to understand what voters are thinking. Vox pops on the television channels last night suggested that many voters think that Boris Johnson is someone who 'gets things done' and 'has bottle'.

All the poll evidence so far suggests that Boris Johnson has not suffered from failing to die in a ditch. Leave voters think that he tried his best and two-and-a-half times as many blame Jeremy Corbyn as they do the prime minister.

What Labour has to try to do is to switch the narrative away from Brexit to other austerity related issues where they might hope to be stronger, although the Conservatives will pledge extra spending. The problem is that voters take a very poor view of Jeremy Corbyn. Some women voters are not impressed by Boris Johnson and they may be open to appeals based on social justice issues.

I think that the Lib Dems are taking a bit of a risk with a very hard Remain line. Many people would think that revoking Article 50 on day one of a Liberal Democrat government without any further consultation is a bit strong. Of course, there won't be such a government, but that is their core message.

There has been a lot of emphasis on how much damage the Brexit Party could do the Conservatives, but they could attract more Labour voters in Leave seats that the Conservatives hope to win in the north and Midlands.

Experts on the election

Experienced Welsh politics commentator Roger Anwan-Scally has published a blog on the general election in Wales: The general election battlefield in Wales

None of the Labour seats in Wales is ultra marginal, but there are four feasible target seats. Their close fights are generally straight battles with the Conservatives.

Plaid Cymru will find it hard to gain seats and are vulnerable in two contests.

Writing from his Hong Kong fastness, Philip Cowley gives twelve reasons why this will be a difficult election to predict: Volatile electorate

Sir John Curtice thinks that parties other than the two main ones could have 100 or more seats which would increase the chances of a hung Parliament: Prediction

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Election thoughts

I am not an elections expert and one is dealing with a volatile electorate facing four cornered contests in many seats, but here are a few reflections.

  • A Labour working majority is the least likely outcome. Johnson is a better campaigner than May and Corbyn is less of a fresh face than in 2017. His somersaults on Brexit have disillusioned younger supporters.
  • The Lib Dems may win fewer seats than they anticipate.
  • What the Brexit Party is up to is a bit of a puzzle, they have been very quiet, but it seems that they are still hoping for an electoral pact with the Conservatives.
  • The Democratic Unionists may have marginalised themselves.
  • The Conservatives may hang on to a few seats in Scotland.
  • Students have hardly been disenfranchised by the election date as they can register in two places. But the student vote will be more dispersed and hence less important.