Saturday, 10 June 2017

That was the election that was

The Michael Portillo moment in this week's general election was not in the early hours of the morning but at 10pm as Big Ben chimed and David Dimbleby announced the BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll results presented by the irrepressible Professor John Curtice. It predicted no overall control and as the evening progressed its accuracy was remarkable. A 20% lead for Mrs May and her merry men had been reduced to 2% and her assumed landslide had become a dependency on the Democratic (Ulster) Unionist Party. Peter Kellner, the ex YouGov boss, spent the next hour debunking the exit poll, but John Curtice prevailed as he always does, he is the doyen of psephologists.

The commentariat has spent the two days since trying to explain their abject failure to understand the mood of the country and why their predictions were trashed by the electorate. Some journalists have even apologised to Jeremy Corbyn for dismissing him as a stop-gap leader, as have some Labour politicians such as Jack Straw. Other Labour politicians, notably Chris Leslie, find it hard to take; they were plotting the next leadership challenge. Meanwhile, the 'strong and stable' Mrs May has been written off by her party and by much of the media. Chief Corbyn hater, Laura Kuenssberg, now tells us that one of her many senior Tory chums has told her that number 10 is in chaos and Mrs May's days are numbered. How she can continue as the BBC chief political correspondent is beyond comprehension. Her days should be just as numbered as those of Mrs May as Prime Minister

In the maelstrom of uncertainty following the election, we must give some credit to Lord Ashcroft, the Tory Party funder and tax exile, for sharing the detailed results of his private exit poll that provides detailed demographic information for the Conservatives. His opinion polls prior to election day consistently pointed to a substantial Tory majority. His final poll taken on the day before polling predicted a 76 seat majority for the Tories but then almost all the pollsters were predicting a comfortable Tory majority. But Ashcroft's exit poll gave similar accurate results to the BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll. The results from his exit poll of 14,000 voters confirm that it was the young that made the result so different than expected.

Exit Poll of 14,000 voters by Lord Ashcroft

The young not only turned out but they voted Labour. Jeremy Corbyn became the British Bernie Saunders, a cult figure who may have lost but looks as if he has won. He has won respect as an authentic, principled politician who listens to the electorate. He lost the election well with a 9% swing to Labour from 2015. He has secured his position as leader, unlike Theresa May who won badly and has only a tenuous grip on being the leader of the Conservatives. The Conservative party do fratricide routinely and the only question seems to be who can they find to be the next victim after Mrs May, and when will it happen.

Given the demographics of the Tory core voters, they may need to call an early election before their core vote snuffs it. Lord Ashcroft's polling includes me in this cohort as a male, over 65, AB, living in Scotland. I am pleased to confirm that my vote will continue to screw up his polling predictions based on my demographic profile.

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