BXP will not be running in 317 seats where the ‘Conservative’ Party won in 2017. The pragmatic electoral arithmetic is simple to understand, but will the Tories actually seek to deliver a meaningful Brexit if they gain a working majority? I am far from convinced. But why Farage is doing this is not hard at all to grasp.
Category: Brexit Party
The Brexit Party
1) I am beginning to think that the best strategy for the Leave side would be for the Brexit Party and the Conservatives to make no official pact, and to continue to denounce each other vigorously, but to make a de facto pact in terms of which seats receive money and campaign volunteers from the two parties.
(EDIT 12:30, 11 Nov 2019: Whether or not that would have been the best strategy, it is now off the cards. Guido Fawkes reports, Brexit Party will Stand Down in 317 Seats the Tories Won in 2017)
2) In an effort to correct for the errors of their disastrous 2017 campaign, the Conservatives are deliberately holding back their main effort until later. This may be an overcorrection, but we’ll see. Expect the fireworks to start after the launch of the Labour manifesto. (The Conservatives’ own manifesto will be as short and uncontroversial – for which read fiscally incontinent – as possible.)
3) Talking of which, the line over which the campaign will be fought will be the words from the 2017 Labour manifesto that may or may not appear in the 2019 Labour manifesto: “Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union.” If these guys were to get their way the election result would be a Tory landslide. But Labour’s instinct to fudge will probably prevail.
3.5) It is sad to note that if I am right, both (2) and (3) require the Conservatives to move in an anti-Libertarian direction in order to win.
“Workington” sounds like a name made up for a novel. But it is a real place, a small town in Cumbria that used to have a coal mine and now has the questionable fortune to have become for the 2019 election what Basildon was in 1992 or Nuneaton was in 2015.
Damian Lyons Lowe of the polling company Survation tweets,
On behalf of Simon Walters at Daily Mail, we have polled the seat many in the media have described as a “must win” in this election as an indicator for Conservative fortunes in parts of the north of England – Workington in Cumbria.
The results were: Conservatives 45% (+3), Labour 34% (-17), Brexit Party 13% (+13), Liberal Democrats 5% (-2), Green Party 2% (+2). The figures in brackets are changes since the 2017 general election.
It is only one poll, but the results indicate that, as suggested in the previous post, the Brexit party running in most or all seats may not harm the Conservatives as much as it would seem at first sight. In fact the presence of the Brexit Party in the contest could indirectly benefit the Conservatives by taking more votes from Labour than from them.
Interesting as the electoral horse race always is, let us not forget that this (potential) change in voting patterns is also a change in how people see themselves.
The Daily Mail produced this graphic of some of the questions asked in the Survation poll. Take a look at the answers to Q5:
Regardless of your current voting intention, if you change your mind before Dec 12, which other party would you consider voting for?
We see the old certitudes dissolve before our eyes.
Or maybe we don’t. Never forget that for the first few days after Theresa May called the election in 2017 that ended with her losing her majority, her already high polling figures rose yet further. Nor did the Tory vote share ever drop very far during the entire campaign – the trouble was, Labour’s rose sharply.
As a result of these calculations, a great deal of pressure via the media is being put on Nigel Farage and Richard Tice to pull back from standing Brexit Party candidates across the country. ‘Go and fight Labour seats with Remain-supporting MPs, but lay off seats where Tories might lose or could make gains,’ is the call.
Such a strategy might at first glance look good on paper, but it would actually be counter-productive to the Conservative desire to win an outright majority. Remember, the Conservatives must not only win seats but see Labour lose some. It helps the Conservatives for the Brexit Party to do well by taking as many of Labour’s Leave-supporting seats as possible – most especially where the Conservatives are very far behind.
From my personal experience as a one-time Conservative member for thirty years, who served two terms as a member of the Scottish Parliament and then fought and won a European Parliament seat in Labour’s heartland of the North East of England for the Brexit Party, I know there are many, many Labour voters who will never vote Conservative. They are not backwards at coming forward to tell me this. They will, however, consider however voting for the Brexit Party and in May they turned out in huge numbers to do so.
Labour voters and politicians also tell me privately that if Brexit Party candidates do not stand against Conservatives, it will be taken as proof that Farage’s new party is really the Tories in disguise and this will prevent Labour voters switching to them. It is therefore to be expected – and indeed in the Conservative Party’s own self-interest – that in the hundreds of safe Tory or Labour seats, the Brexit and Tory candidates fight each other.
The Independent‘s John Rentoul is scarcely likely to be happy at what the latest poll by Opinium says, but dutifully tweeted it anyway:
Opinium poll for Observer, Cons back to 15-pt lead:
Con 38% +2
Lab 23% -1
Lib Dem 15% -5
Brexit 12% +1
Green 4% +2
2,006 UK adults 3-4 Oct, change since last week
So after all those Remain victories in Parliament and the courts, Boris Johnson’s Tories are slightly more popular and the Liberal Democrats are significantly less popular? How can this be?
Brian Micklethwait argues that no (overt) pact is needed between the Brexit Party and the Conservatives in order to get a Parliament of leavers. The Brexit Party can make the pact unilaterally:
all Brexit voters need to know who to vote for in their particular constituency, come the day, to ensure Brexit. So, the Brexit Party just needs to tell them. If the Brexit Party campaigns for Conservative Brexiters who’ll win, but for its own candidates when they are more likely to win, the Brexit Party will get its deal.
Meanwhile Boris might do well to avoid a pact:
in the event of such public collaboration, there was and is a crucial slice of Conservative but only Leave-ish voters in the affluent south who would have been put off voting Leave, and would who would now be put off voting Conservative and would switch to the LibDems
It might just work.
I read everywhere that Boris Johnson’s government is flailing and failing. They have been soundly defeated in the Commons. It looks like Boris will be forced to ask the EU for another extension, and according to the Times it has been pre-approved:
Rebel Tory MPs and opposition leaders received private assurances from European leaders that a request by parliament for a three-month Brexit extension would be granted in one last attempt to break the deadlock.
The Times understands that senior figures behind the bill to force an extension on Boris Johnson cleared their plan with EU capitals before it was published this week. They received reassurances that the European Council, which is made up of EU leaders, would not stand in the way of one final extension if it was approved by parliament.
“If Parliament is unable to decide on Brexit it would be better to have a snap General Election”
Average of 3 polls this weekend (Survation, Opinium, YouGov)
Lib Dem 18%
Johnson threatens Brexit rebels with party expulsion
Sayeth that bastion of anti-Brexit sentiment Reuters. But what I find more interesting is this:
House of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said any wise party would prepare for an election and that the rebel legislation would be considered a matter of confidence in the government. “It is important for the government to establish the confidence of the House of Commons and this is essentially a confidence matter: Who should control the legislative agenda, Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson?” Rees-Mogg said.
As I have said before, the way to get Nigel Farage (not Jeremy Corbyn, that is a canard) in No.10 is for enough of the Château-bottled shit who make up much of the ‘Conservative’ Party to prevent Boris from delivering a clean Brexit. That is the magic ingredient which transforms Farage from a remarkable political outlier into a political kaiju who will flatten London (well, Westminster specifically). The Brexit Party exists almost exclusively to rip the two main parties apart (but particularly the Tories) if we end up with No Brexit or Brexit-in-name-only. There are enough adults in the Tory Party to have figured out that out too, meaning they understand that certain ‘Big Beasts’ like Ken Clarke and several dozen others need to be purged from the party utterly, completely, unambiguously and unapologetically, or the entire Parliamentary Tory party will be able to drive to the House in three or four black cabs after the next General Election.
They have it within their power to make the Brexit Party pretty much just go away, and they would have to be cretins not to see how to do that. Sadly, if we have learned anything in the last three years, Parliament is awash with cretins. I always used to think it was a mistake to assume my enemies were idiots, but… well, we will see.
Finally, Parliament gets treated with the contempt it richly deserves.
And now more than ever, we will need the Brexit Party to keep a political knife to Boris Johnson’s throat, or the most likely last minute result will be a sell-out ‘deal’ that delivers the utterly appalling Withdrawal Agreement (“Whether you’re a Brexiteer or Remainer, this is a deal that a nation signs only after having been defeated at war. This is not a deal fit for purpose for any sovereign country.”), probably minus the distraction of the backstop.
Some sort of clean break Brexit is looking far more likely than it was when Theresa May was Prime Minister. What happened?
Today Nigel Farage made a speech to the Brexit Party (the event is ongoing and his speech starts about 17 minutes into that live stream).
Back in March of this year all seemed lost. We had a Labour and Conservative party, both of whom were happy not to take us out of the European Union. […] The talk was that not only were we not leaving the European Union but we were to face a second referendum. […] That is why I founded the Brexit Party. […] We managed to turn all of that anger that was out there in this country into optimism and hope. We made people begin to realise that actually Brexit was going to happen. […] It was our rise and success that got rid of the worst and most duplicitous prime minister in British history. I think we pretty much guaranteed that her successor would be a leading brexiteer. Indeed if we hadn’t fought those elections I suspect Mrs May would still be there.
Farage claims that at this point Boris is mostly aping Brexit Party lines. But he does not mind. He is pleased that Boris has brought some energy and optimism to the job, and that he is saying we will leave on the 31st October, “do or die.” But Nigel is skeptical, since we heard similar things from Theresa May early on, and Boris looks like he might be satisfied with the withdrawal agreement minus the backstop. Boris and the Conservative party can not be trusted, Nigel says.
It is clear that Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party are the ones keeping Boris honest. Will it be enough, or will they also be the ones bringing about the downfall of the Conservative Party should he fail? Says Nigel:
The withdrawal agreement is not Brexit. The withdrawal agreement is a betrayal of what 17.4m people voted for, and if you go with the withdrawal agreement we will fight you in every single seat up and down the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.
He talks about another possibility: that Boris proceeds with leaving with no deal. Nigel thinks no deal is the best deal. He calls it a clean break Brexit, leaving the UK independent and sovereign.
If Boris Johnson was to summon up the courage to lead this country into a clean break Brexit on 31st October, and if the only means of achieving that was calling a general election … then we would put country before party … we would be prepared to help him, perhaps in the form of a non-aggression pact at the election.
He goes on to suggest that the only way the Conservative party could win a general election is with the help and support of the Brexit Party. “We will not get a genuine Brexit without the Brexit Party being involved.”