General Election : Terrorism, Brexit, NHS – The Pollsters, Papers, Pundits and Punters
By Graham Vanbergen: This election will go down in history for all sorts of reasons, not least because it follows the momentous Brexit referendum result. And make no mistake, this election, is really about that single issue. However, for the first time in decades, Britain (well more like England and Wales), now has a true alternative vote. Jeremy Corbyn has transformed the Labour party into a real movement whilst the Conservatives head off further to the right under a more authoritative leader in Theresa May.
Tony Blair’s vision of Britain has literally vaporised and a working class political party has re-emerged. With that, a void has opened up in the centre ground. This election could conceivably be about right verses the left if it wasn’t for Brexit, but it’s more complicated than that. At the next general election the debate will be about the economy because Brexit will have proved just one thing – it was either a disastrous adventure or an economic success.
Without doubt the debate is changing in texture and context too. Austerity and privatisation have finally been exposed as an ideology of the right, it was never about efficiency and savings. Aggressive foreign policy and Trident are unpopular and are failing us in a very fast changing world. The NHS is almost neck and neck with Brexit being the major topic of voting intention, proving that people really do want the Tories to stop asset stripping and selling it off for profit.
In this report we look at the impact of terrorism, climate change, Brexit and the strength of the NHS in political debate, the personality war and of course the predictions, just one day ahead of one of the most important days in British electoral history.
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If the election was fought on single important issues, the outcomes of voting for a new Prime Minister would be very different indeed, depending of course on the question. YouGov claims to be the largest daily updated record of people’s habits and opinions in human history with companies, government s and institutions using their data to better understand the world around them and the people that use them.
In the 2015 general election YouGov predicted a dead heat and therefore a second coalition but the reality ended with the Tories winning with a seven point lead or 15 seat majority. Then again, YouGov predicted four times in a row that Brexit would happen with a 3 point margin whilst the bookies, pundits, commentators, financial markets, printed and broadcast media almost universally predicted a safe Remain result.
Terrorism and Climate Change
Britain has had to endure three terrible terrorist attacks in three months, which inevitably is having an effect on people’s opinion. So, if the vote was centred around the reasons why terrorism happens in Britain the decision is under no doubt whatsoever. 53 percent of the population believe that terrorism is a result of supporting or fighting wars. This of course relates directly to the campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
Only 24 percent believe there is no connection between these wars and the recent acts of terror in Britain and 23 percent don’t know. 1 – 0 to Jeremy Corbyn then.
On the subject of climate change respondents were asked about the words they would use to describe Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. A full 45 percent were disappointed, 31 percent were angry and 36 percent were worried. Only 2 percent were delighted and 3 percent pleased and only 13 percent didn’t know.
There is general consensus that Theresa May backs Donald Trump on this decision as she is in no position to argue given that Brexit has forced Britain to negotiate trade deals – with Donald Trump’s administration.
This would be a substantial loss for Theresa May and the Conservatives in general.
However, elections are not won on single issues even though this one is centred around Brexit. In Britain, elections are usually won more often on personality and impression than on manifesto policy and even then usually focused on the economy. This time, it will be different.
Indeed, if it was all about personality then this would explain Theresa May’s dramatic popularity fall.
According to Survation, as at yesterday (6th June) only half of those polled (50%) now believe Theresa May would make a better Prime Minister than Jeremy Corbyn (36%) who has seen his best PM rating increase by 15 points over the course of the series (one month). By contrast, Theresa May’s popularity has dropped by 10 points.
However, Survation’s results could be biased due to the assumption that the young people they polled, do in fact actually turn up to vote. If the survey was weighted back to normal turnout of the young, the Conservatives get an overall 4 point lead as May’s rating increases.
Brexit and the NHS
Theresa May’s strength is based on the uncertainties of Brexit, but she needs to heed the rumblings on health. The top five reasons for voter intention is very different than general elections of the past.
The top five issues in order of importance for this election are:
- Britain leaving the EU (63% voted this the top political issue this election)
- Health (61%)
- Immigration and asylum (40%)
- The economy (38%)
- Education (26%)
- On Britain leaving the EU, 65 per cent back Theresa May, whereas only 14 per cent think Jeremy Corbyn is the best person for the job.
- On health only 15 per cent back Theresa May, whereas 38 per cent think Jeremy Corbyn is the best person for the job.
- On immigration, 32 per cent back Theresa May, whereas only 8 per cent think Jeremy Corbyn is the best person for the job.
- On the economy 33 per cent back Theresa May, whereas only 12 per cent think Jeremy Corbyn is the best person for the job.
- On education, only 8 per cent back Theresa May, whereas only 21 per cent think Jeremy Corbyn is the best person for the job.
On this basis alone, Theresa May would win hands down with a very large majority.
Under 50, Over 50
If age was the basis for voting the result would really quite different. According to YouGov, the under 50’s would vote 44 per cent Jeremy Corbyn to 31 per cent Theresa May.
However, if all voters were over 50 years of age only 21 per cent would vote for Jeremy Corbyn compared to 59 per cent that would vote for Theresa May.
The Pollsters, Papers, Pundits and Punters
The latest polling intentions were 42 per cent Conservative to Labour’s 38 per cent according to YouGov.
However, Britain Elects has a different projected result as at June 4th – the result being 43.8 per cent to the Conservatives and 36.1 per cent to Labour.
Elsewhere the Liberal Democrats are on 9%, with UKIP on 4%. Votes for other parties stand at 7%.
Unlike virtually every other pollster Survation reports its finding down to one decimal point and the latest phone poll for Good Morning Britain shows the significance of this. With normal rounding it would be a 2% CON lead when the actual margin is 1.1%
The figures: Conservative 41.5%, Labour 40.4%, Lib-Dems 6% and UKIP 3%. Without rounding the figures are – CON 42% (-5); LAB 40% (+10); LD 6% (-2); UKIP 3% (-1); Others 9% (-2)
When asked what they thought the outcome would be, 23% of those sampled by Survation said a large majority, and 41% a small majority.
The right-wing Telegraph predicts 43% Conservative and 35% Labour, whilst left-wing paper the Mirror is predicting a worse result for them with 45% Conservative and 34% Labour.
Interestingly, the punters who intend to gamble money on the win are making decisions on which is the best pollster first before deciding what and how much to bet. PolitcalBetting.com says that these punters are going with ICM/ComRes view of the election. That prediction is 45% Conservative to 34% Labour.
In April, Sky News predicted a majority of 212 seats.
Barely three months later and Prime Minister Theresa May is set to fall 21 seats short of a majority in the House of Commons, according to a projection by YouGov released today (6th June 08.30hrs) as reported in the Independent.
The study showed that the Conservatives would win 305 seats, fewer than won by David Cameron and shy of the 326 needed to pass laws with a majority.
By contrast, PoliticalBetting has taken the view that their punters are gambling on a majority of 70 seats in favour of the Conservatives.
Coral the bookmakers have moved the Conservative majority out from 16/1 to 20/1. Paddy Power gives the Conservatives 2/9 and Labour 16/1 against for a majority.
The Other Parties
Whatever the differences between opinion pollsters about how Labour and the Conservatives are doing relative to each other, they are in agreement about one thing – they’re picking up votes at the expense of the other parties. The pollsters are gathering towards finding that the Conservatives and Labour are picking up around 80% of the vote between them. The punchiest, Ipsos-MORI, found that they shared a massive 85% of the vote between them.