Labour continues to hold a small lead over the Conservatives as the nation comes into the New Year. There is evidence of some voter movement towards UKIP which indicates that their true national level is around 4% or 5% and their General Election performance was distorted by so many of their candidates standing down, as well as tactical voting.
Chart G1 shows the Conservatives have slipped back since the 2017 election and Labour now has a lead of 1% in Great Britain. The most striking thing about G1 is the quite extraordinary recovery in the Labour vote from mid-April 2017 when the election was called. Understanding why this happened is key to making sense of the 2017 election and what is likely to happen next. I have to say that from what I have read from political commentators, no-one has yet made sense of this dramatic surge. For myself, I keep coming back to a comment I made to my wife (who is American) that the election was starting to remind me of the Democrats primary battle in 2016 between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and I do feel that the two elections share a similar dynamic.
Despite dropping back, the Conservatives are still well placed when compared to previous elections. The difference is that we are now back to 2-party politics last seen in 1979 as shown by chart G3. It would appear from chart G2 that most of the movement away from the Conservatives has been towards UKIP. This does make sense in that UKIP did not stand in many seats in the 2017 election and as a result their vote share would have been artificially depressed. The Greens did a similar thing to UKIP but they have not seen a rebound in their vote which suggests that Green defectors in the electors are remaining loyal to Labour.
With Labour’s slim lead, and ideological allies to form a coalition with, it could be said that if Theresa May were to call an election now it would deliver Jeremy Corbyn to Number 10. However, with a vote coming on the right for 16 year olds to vote it may be wiser for the Labour Party, who perform extremely well with younger voters, to get 16 year olds the franchise before trying to force a fresh election. However elections recently have rarely provided the expected result, and I highly doubt the Tory Party will call an election before Britain’s Brexit deal is wrapped up.