Saturday 26 November 2016
Only Way the Tories will Lose the next General Election is if they Mess Up Brexit
We are, probably, over three years away from the next general election, scheduled under the Fixed Term Parliament Act to be in 2020. But, nothing surprises in politics these days, and the election could come a lot sooner than that, but either way, the Tories look nailed on to win it.
The opinion polls give the Tories a 12 to 14 point lead over Labour, pretty much universally, and although we have seen the polls getting things wrong recently, not by a double digit margin. There must be something right about these polls, and intuitively, I feel they are quite accurate. The split in the Parliamentary Labour Party, pro and anti Jeremy Corbyn, of course hinders Labour and aids the Tories, and this looks set to continue up until the general election.
Then we have the probable changes to the Parliamentary constituencies and reduction in the number of MPs, which overwhelmingly favours the Tories, by increasing their representation by 20 to 30 seats at the expense, mainly, of Labour. Even if anti-Corbyn MPs are replaced, they could stand as spoiler independent candidates in their old seats.
In Scotland, Corbyn’s leadership has made no notable difference to his party’s unpopularity, and it looks as though the SNP will retain most of the seats they won in 2015, when Labour was rduced to a singular MP, north of the border.
A progressive alliance, which has been mooted for the next general election, really an anti-Tory alliance, would make it more difficult for the Tories to win, but Labour shows little sign of making this a reality. Even if they did, I think the Tories would probably still win anyway.
A hell of a lot can happen in politics in three years, to paraphrase Harold Wilson, but the prospects of the Tories not winning, are, I think, minimal from this distance out. The one issue that could turn this situation around, is Brexit. The biggest single issue in UK politics at the moment, like it or loathe it, does offer some encouragement though.
Wednesday’s Autumn Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, reveals the economic perils of Brexit, despite what the Brexiteers have been saying about this being a falsely gloomy picture, and really everything will be fine.
The independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), says that Brexit will reduce growth in the UK economy over the next few years, and estimate the fall in tax receipts this will cause, amounts to an extra £60 billion black hole in the UK’s finances up until 2020. Which means, less money for public services, increased taxes, more welfare cuts and more borrowing by the government. More austerity.
The think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), warn of the biggest squeeze on pay for 70 years over Brexit, with rising inflation meaning that wages will not have recovered to their 2008 level before the global financial crisis hit, by 2021. What’s more, it will be low and middle-income households who feel the pinch the most.
The idea that Britain will get everything it wants, access to the European Single Market and opting out of the free movement of people, from the European Union (EU) is for the birds. Primarily, it will not be economic policy that determines the EU response in negotiations, but as always with the EU, it will be politics. There is no way the EU will want to reward the UK for leaving the club, whatever beneficial case is made by Britain to the EU, along economic lines. The EU will not have it, full stop.
All of which leaves the Tory government with no sort of negotiating position, other than compensating some British based businesses for paying tariffs on trade in the EU, and more than likely a slashing of corporation tax at home to businesses generally. This will lead to even higher inflation than that already caused by a devalued pound and less tax revenue for the UK. In short, this will make the economic situation even worse.
So, a good chance that the Tories will make a bad job of Brexit, and maybe Labour can unify themselves to take advantage of the open goal left for them by the government. Or maybe not?
The next UK general election will probably be the most stark left-wing party versus right-wing party since 1983, and perhaps even more so. Of course, 1983 saw a landslide Tory victory, but the situation now is very different, and strange election results are becoming commonplace. Although, mainly to the advantage of the far right, so far.
But there is one big caveat on this. We will probably leave the EU in 2019, and by 2020, the full economic picture will not have played out by then. The voters seem to have scant regard for ‘expert’ opinions these days, and until they really do feel it financially, may very well refuse to believe the dire predictions for the future. They also will not realise that immigration will not fall much, if at all, but immediately after Brexit be satisfied enough on the matter.
If the Tories do win in 2020, then the next opportunity to defeat them will be 2025, and Corbyn in all probability will not be the leader of the Labour Party by then. And someone else with similar political ideas might not be able to get enough support from Labour MPs, to get onto the leadership ballot.
I must admit, I’m not too hopeful.