The UK will learn its political fate on Friday 13 December. MPs have voted in a one-line Bill to have an election on Thursday 12 November, in the middle of winter. BoJo’s got his way if not quite the way he wanted. All bets are off.
I well remember when Helen Clark told Mike Williams and I that she was going to call an election in New Zealand’s winter of 2002, when we were way ahead in the polls. In the end we just scraped in, even though National had its worst result in years.
We are still in London; the winds are growing chill and the nights are rapidly drawing in. Turnout will be an issue.
Also at issue will be the fact that this will not be a two-horse race. Brexit splits Conservatives and the Brexit party on the right, and Labour, Lib Dems, Scottish party on the left(ish) spectrum. The Conservatives know austerity is still an issue, which explains the multitude of pictures of Boris in hospitals and schools with his sleeves rolled up. It is not certain that he will be seen as the answer.
The standard polls are not reliable for this election in my view. Pollster guru Professor John Curtice makes the following point:
“… this is an asymmetric election. It’s an election that Boris Johnson has to win. If he does not get a majority or something very close to it, he will not be able to stay in government because the Conservatives do not have any friends elsewhere.
“The Labour Party, by contrast, at least has the possibility of doing a deal with the SNP, a deal with the Liberal Democrats, getting support of the Greens and maybe even the DUP not standing in their way.
“Bear in mind, this is not an election that Labour have to win to stop Brexit, but it is an election that they and the other opposition parties simply need to deny the Conservatives a majority.