“We are the first societies in human history where the old outnumber the young”

How Boris Johnson’s Brexit Won

In the link above Isaac Chotiner of the New Yorker interviews Professor David Runciman of Cambridge. I must confess that I only have to see the New Yorker‘s distinctive Irvin typeface to see the famous “View of the World from 9th Avenue” cover. I need to get over myself. It is a good and wide ranging interview, with a focus of the parallels or lack of them between the UK and the US. Stick with it, the best parts are at the end.

Watching John McDonnell getting his excuses in early

Blimey, I’m watching this on BBC1 and wanting Andrew Neil to be kinder to John McDonnell.

Fair play to McDonnell, he is making a reasonable analysis of what he must find to be a devastating exit poll result.

In recent years exit polls conducted by Sir John Curtice and his team have been remarkably accurate. Given the strange days we live in, this one may be less so – but with a projected majority of 86 the Tories can afford to lose quite a few.

We are on course for the best result for the Conservatives since 1987. The working class have gone Tory.

The bell is about to toll

Five minutes from now. That is when YouGov’s famed MRP poll is due to be published. Half a million interviews are said to have taken place online, a dizzying number compared to what any other polling company can do. It has acquired mythic status.

Still might be wrong though.

The letters “MRP” are not a magic spell. Here is an article dated May 12th 2017 in which Lord Ashcroft writes confidently about his own soon-to-be-tested MRP model for the election of 8th June. As Anthony B. Masters wrote in this article explaining the technique,

A curious case of selective memory has surrounded the use of MRP. In the 2017 General Election, people seem to recall YouGov’s accurate central estimation of a hung parliament. Using the same technique, the Lord Ashcroft model (which estimated a Conservative majority over 60) is sometimes forgotten.


And it’s out of the gate! A dramatic gain for Labour since the previous iteration: the predictions for twenty seats have flipped from Tory to Labour. But the Oracle of YouGov is still saying there will still be a Tory majority, of 28 seats. Then again, in the manner of oracles, there is a margin of error big enough to encompass both a hung parliament and a massive Conservative majority.

I hoped this would be the fat lady singing, but all she has done is clear her throat.

Maybe Icarus can land with a glide

“The Liberal Democrats misread the political mood. Yet perhaps not all is lost”, writes Martin Kettle.

Three conclusions follow. The first is that Brexit has not reshaped the electoral battle as comprehensively as some believe. That is not to belittle the fact that Brexit has done much to recast British electoral politics. This is still a Brexit election, because its results could mark a point of no return on this most all pervasive of current issues. But it is not year zero. The idea that the Lib Dems, by being clear on the biggest issue of the day, will automatically attract all remain voters en masse to their cause is being proved false. It’s as false as Labour’s equivalent fantasy that, by being clear on the need for a radical post-austerity political economy, it will automatically attract all the votes of those who agree with that policy. In both cases, belief in practicality and trust in the leader are crucial to making the sale.

I would add to that final point about trust something that Martin Kettle almost certainly would not. It is a line from an article published yesterday by Mr Kettle’s Guardian colleague John Harris: “Labour’s ‘red wall’ is looking shaky. But the problems started decades ago”.

Mr Harris writes,

Running through a great deal of what I heard was a point voiced time and again by all kinds of people: in the absence of Brexit being delivered, why should they trust politicians to do anything else?

Goodbye secure Tory poll lead, I hardly knew ye

A couple of days ago YouGov published the first set of results of their massive Multilevel Regression with Poststratification poll. This was big news, as the equivalent from the last election in 2017 was one of only two polls that came close to the final result. (The other was a conventional poll by Survation.) The YouGov MRP results showed the responses of the hundred thousand strong panel as of 27th November. If this election were a game of The Weakest Link, that would have been the point at which the Tories said “Bank”. The results suggested a sea of red seats turning blue. (Note for American readers: your colour conventions for parties are wrong. Wrong like the spelling “color”.) As ever, though, a poll is a snapshot not a prediction.

There is no bank. Today’s poll from BMG showed the steepest absolute rise for Labour – five percentage points compared to BMG’s last poll – that I have seen so far in this election, and add to that a decline of two percentage points for the Conservatives. Net change -7, giving Con 39%, Lab 33%. One might argue – Tories might pray – that it ain’t as bad as it looks because it was quite a while since the last BMG poll. Or perhaps it is just one of those spasms that all polls are subject to, poor lambs. But however you spin it, a Conservative lead in vote share as small as six points almost certainly means no Tory majority, which means a coalition between Labour and one or more of the other parties, which means a second referendum, which means, given Labour’s plan to allow foreigners the vote, no Brexit.

When the YouGov MRP came out some Conservative campaigners had been saying that they wished it had been tighter, as such a thumping great lead would make their side complacent. They have their wish now.

I assume from Labour being up five and the Lib Dems down five that we are seeing a straight tactical transfer of voting intention from the latter to the former. The Remain vote is consolidating just as the Leave vote did before it.

Doom and gloom

Fraser Nelson in today’s Telegraph:

Let’s not pretend that the Corbyn agenda is dismissed nationwide as a socialist calamity-in-waiting. His plans to nationalise water, railways, electricity and gas are supported by about half of all voters; his idea for British Broadband Corporation is backed by a margin of three to one.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is interviewed by the Spectator.

I remember having conversations with colleagues in the government that came in in 2010 saying I thought austerity was just not the right way forward for the UK.

Anyone wanting to reduce the size of the state has a lot of work in front of them.