• Development Intelligence

The big and unusual election

So here we are, then, pretty much at the halfway point of this General Election campaign and it is no understatement to say that this election really is a ‘Big One’.

1997 was the last Big One: we, the voters, decided to unceremoniously dump the Tories out of office after 18 years as they were a fractious rabble at civil war with themselves who needed time in opposition to sort themselves out. 1979 was the previous Big One: we’d had enough of the misery of incompetent, strike ridden, four day week Labour and Maggie offered a change. Both of these elections changed the course of modern British history. Without them we would quite possibly never have had Thatcherism or New Labour.

And so it is now with the 2019 General Election. This is another Big One. We are at a historic fork in the road: do we want to make good on the Brexit referendum result or U-turn and try out a little bit of light Marxism?

And this is also a really unusual election campaign, so far. Why? Well, here’s a few things that don’t normally happen in General Elections:

1. We are not experiencing the usual 24/7 blanket election media coverage. It’s high up on the news agenda for sure, but it’s not been all consuming as is normally the case. In part this is because there is just lots of other news around, most notably the recent flooding, the Trump impeachment and Prince Andrew’s interview sucking a good deal of the media’s time away from the campaign coverage. And this is of course not helping the small parties which normally rely on an increase in media exposure to push their vote upwards.

2. Against almost all historic norms, the polls are actually widening not narrowing, so far, which is helping the Tories and must be frustrating the hell out of the other parties’ election teams. Is this just an early campaign phenomenon or is this a more sticky trend which will endure throughout this election?

3. In an election where Brexit is the No 1 issue, the Brexit Party is dying on its feet. Partly this is because a large percentage of the population are just fed up with Brexit and Boris is offering them a clear way out, and partly because the Brexit Party is itself divided about strategy, seat targeting and messaging, so isn’t landing the punches that Farage has been infamous for in past elections.

4. Normally the Lib Dems tick up during an election campaign. But right now they’re going backwards. Is this because less committed Remainers also just want Brexit over and done with, or is it because the more the public see of Jo Swinson the less they take to her?

5. The election campaign in Scotland has morphed into a re-run of the Scottish independence referendum, good for both the SNP and the Tories but bad for every other political party.

So this election is a Big One and so far, quite unusual.

We have been asked by several clients to give a presentation in the New Year on the ‘post General Election political landscape’. If this is something that would be useful for your team, please get in touch.