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This oddly muted election has, if nothing else, put MSM idleness and propaganda under the spotlight. Two new opinion polls suggest that the maths are very much against Labour, but still there is talk of a hung Parliament. The Slog digs a little deeper into the data, in a no doubt doomed attempt to add a little reality.

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UPDATE: Poll in Grimsby shows 18% swing against Labour, Tories set to win seat for first time since 1918

One of the things that keeps me awake at night these days is the very slow speed at which the traditional (or “mainstream”) media eventually grasp the beat on the street. Some of this is selective myopia and propagandic superficiality, some of it too much time spent talking to other metropolitan space cadets, and some of it just idle incompetence.

It keeps me awake because they have infinitely more power than I do to persuade….and their readers quite rightly have more important life issues with which to deal, without having to say “That’s not what you said seven months ago on Page 23” on top of dealing with a daily overdose of opinion bombardment.

Grudgingly, at this halfway point in the General Election, the MSM have finally caught up with the low engagement level of voters, and the likelihood of a comparatively low turnout on December 12th.

But they’re still not doing the maths on what this means. The fact is that Labour is staring down the barrel of what looks like – at least – a 9% swing against it since 2017.

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I’m not trying to blow the Slog trumpet here: I’m simply talking about the need to précis and focus and look at stuff in the Round. Taking the last six Slogposts on the current election from when it was declared (7th November) the following has been opined:

  • Labour is nowhere near the 41% it got in 2017 – a vote share that nevertheless left the Tories as the biggest party 
  • Farage’s decision to stay out of 317 Tory seats has helped BoJo a lot, and Corby a little
  • The low level of engagement in this election is unprecedented in my lifetime
  • Geopolitical interference is trying to ensure that this election winds up delivering something more Brino than Brexit
  • If you look at what most concerns people – for example, the survival of the NHS – it is clear that this election is seeing much promised largesse and zero considered thought about how to achieve that.
  • Not only is the Labour surge not happening this time, inside pollster information suggests that Trad Labour will not come out to support Mad Labour. This may be the election when the neglected decide not to bother getting their lax ‘supporters’ elected.

This last point has been picked up by Ipsos Mori this morning. Not only is there still no Labour surge – the Tories are on 44% and Labour 28% – the LibDems are equally stuck in the mid teens. Further, whereas Tory and LibDem support is certain and solid, Labour support has by far the highest percentage of not sures….at 27% higher than Conservative voters. That is an enormous difference, especially when you add it to the 16% lead Team Boris has, and the vastly smaller Labour vote share today compared to 2017.

Intriguingly however (and it’s almost as if Mori had been reading The Slog on the subject of the Undecideds who say don’t know or not sure) whereas in 2017 they reached a high point of 34%, now they represent a staggering 40%: is this where the Labour surge might come from?

The evidence suggests that would be counter-intuitive. Or put, another way, “No”. Here’s why:

  • Engagement in the election remains the lowest in my lifetime. Surfing across the main MSM titles over the last two days, the Opeds therein seem to have – albeit at least a week behind the blogosphere – decided that this is a boring election unlikely to decide anything of importance.
  • I understand the ITV ratings for the Johnson/Corbyn “debate” were historically low, with a high switch-off rate.
  • As I mentioned yesterday, sound sources in the polling sector suggest high stay-at-home levels among older Leftist voters.
  • Ipsos Mori declares that almost exactly 60% of the electorate has made up its mind: this ties in very closely with my recent suggestion that if you can get good odds at the bookies for a 60-62% turnout, it must be worth a punt.

None of this is consistent with high-interest levels leaving people uncertain how to switch. With a genuine TBP alternative now largely neutered – and the heightened mixture of apathy, boredom, cynicism, fatigue and cold weather this time – it suggests to me that ‘not sures’ are largely deciding whether to vote or not, not who to vote for.

Amongst those who do decide to use what semblance of democracy they have left, the fact that three quarters of Tory (but only half of Labour) are ‘solid’ in their conviction on voting augurs very badly for Team Jezzer.

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The 1970 election had a similar air of plodding ennuie about it, but Ted Heath leveraged the then “housewife” vote by declaring he would “cut prices at a stroke”. This produced a pro-Tory surge that caught everyone on the back foot; but I’m at a loss to see where a 2019 rabbit could be pulled from Saint Jeremy’s Lenin hat this time.

He has (for once) wisely chosen to create a massive sellout of the NHS to Trump as a cause célèbre. But although BoJo promises are now infamous for their fragility and plunging value, the truth is that the Prime Minister has said he would never, ever sell “our NHS” to the US or indeed anywhere else. And the Santa Corbyn set of Christmas present pledges is now so vast, it has lost all credibility among mature voters. More cynical than most, I suggest, are the Waspi/Backto60 SPA victims who have been told for last last seven years that there is no money tree, but now seem to find themselves locked out of an orchard crammed with such magical vegetation.

The decisions of both Corbyn and Farage to forego the chance to leverage SPA victim support strike me as two of the greatest blunders in the modern history of British politics. Waspi/Backto60 is worth an average of 5,800 votes in every UK constituency. Corbyn I suspect had ideological motives (his focus on the pro-Labour discontented whether worthy or not has been quite extraordinary) whereas I can only think in relation to Our Nigel that he just doesn’t GAF about the issue, seeing at as a distraction. It is a truly bizarre case history and worthy of a book. Just not from me.

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As I’m now firmly labelled as a scumbigotnaziélitedouchebag by the deluded, it is only fair to accept that the UK’s archaic (and arcane) FPTP constituency system is capable of upsetting most apple carts. Equally, ground-game actions at that level are a new craft. But surveying the social media campaigns conducted by the top five Parties in Britain, I cannot help get three feelings – (a) massively overcrowded medium (b) utter lack of persuasion creativity and (c) general sense of a ring full of sluggers cancelling each other out.

Now that the Faragistas (aka Arron Banks) have removed any threat from safer Tory seats – and the pro-Tory swing may well have made many of their marginals less so – it’s not a bad idea to take a look at Labour marginals.

The starting point with any swing calculation is, very simply, the difference between what the Party got last time, and what it gets this time….in our case today, with 20 days to go before The Big Day, last time versus this time as projected.

The closest Labour has come to its 2017 voting share in any poll since the declaration produces a 9% swing against Labour

That is being extremely kind to Momentum Labour. But even with that compassionate figure, Labour will lose 15-20 seats for sure. On a low turnout below 65%, they’d lose more like 30 seats.

The Comres gains/loss study released yesterday shows that 17% of traditional Labour voters are considering voting for Boris Johnson….three times as many Tories who might switch to Labour

Scotland is a special case: it is marginal in all directions, but most especially between the SNP and the Liberal Democrats. There has been a 5% swing to the Nationalists there, but a 7% swing to the Swinsonites. So it’s all to play for, but with a likely cancelling out when it comes to net anti-Brexit feeling. Although there’s been a 7% swing against them, there are only 13 Tory Scottish MPs at Westminster. They might lose 8 seats at most. Amusingly, Swinson herself could lose her seat.

Labour today released its Manifesto. Perhaps there will be some momentum (no pun intended) from that.

But to put this entire post into perspective, based on the two polls released today, there is a 13% swing against Labour nationally.

Only Owen the Delusional Jones can see that as the precursor to a Labour Government (or anything near it) on December 13th.