…and we are all very much awake here at Redwood HQ as we watch on in anticipation. Here, Khev Limbajee makes his predictions about how the next 48 hours will unfold.
As the old adage goes, politicians campaign in poetry but govern in prose. I’m not sure how lyrical this campaign has been, but in case you’ve haven’t noticed, the Tory sing song slogan is “Get Brexit Done”. Question the Prime Minister on anything from the NHS to schools or adult social care you can bet your bottom dollar that those four syllables will be recited back at you. Again. And again. And again… If you’re bored of it, pity the poor souls of CCHQ who have been repeating this mantra for what seems like an eternity. However, as old hands at party headquarters would say, when the party officials themselves got bored of repeating it – only then does it finally sink in with the public.
In the last full day of campaigning, nerves are being tested. Jeremy Corbyn is being questioned about is age and stamina – he maintains he eats porridge for breakfast. Jonathan Ashworth, his Shadow Health Secretary, has been secretly recorded doubting that Labour are going to win the election and the civil service would have to safeguard national security. He has dismissed this as “banter” with a Tory mate. Just “banter” agreed Jeremy Corbyn. Not the sort of “banter” that’s very helpful though. It’s not been cheery news for the blue side with the Tories being caught up in an NHS mire. They have had to fend of accusations of wanting to sell of parts of the NHS as part of a UK – USA post Brexit trade deal, accusations which they are vociferously denying. Boris Johnson’s response to the young boy being treated on the floor at Leeds General Hospital was considered flat footed at best.
It was with high anticipation that all the parties were looking at the YouGov polls that came out late last night. The Conservatives are ahead on 43%, Labour on 34% and the Lib Dems on 15%. Translated into seats that is a prediction of a 28 seat majority for the Tories. Although many seats won’t change hands, this election does have a uniqueness about it in the sense that Brexit has really shaken things up and demographic changes have altered voting patterns. Heavily leave voting Labour seats could go Tory – Greater Grimsby and even Tony Blair’s old seat of Sedgefield to name but two.
There could be a couple of “Portillo” moments – a recall to 1997 when the then Defence Secretary Michael Portillo lost his Enfield Southgate seat, with a 15,000 majority, to Stephen Twigg. All eyes will be looking at Chingford and Woodford Green where Iain Duncan-Smith is defending a majority of 2,438 again a determined Labour campaign. The Green Party, who polled just over a 1000 votes in 2017, have withdrawn from the race, and so we can presume that the vast majority of that vote will go red. It will be a nerve biting finish. Also in Chipping Barnet, Theresa Villiers is defending a tiny majority in this North London Seat – though the impact of the accusations of anti-Semiticism could damage Labour’s chances of taking this seat which has a significant Jewish electorate. Also, Boris Johnson himself is defending a majority of 5,034 in Uxbridge and South, with a well organised “Get Out the Vote” from the very active local Labour campaign, they are hoping, if they do not manage to take the seat, to see the Prime Minister’s majority cut.
But the big moment of the night might not be a blue – red battle at all. The big upset could be the election or non-election of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Esher and Walton. Sitting on a majority of 23,298 is should be safe as houses. Not in this election. A standard bearer of the hard Brexiteers, he is being closely run by the Liberal Democrats, hungry for a scalp in an election where a Lib Dem surge has seemed to failed yet again to materialise. They do not look like they will take Cambridge, Finchley and Golders Green nor the Cities of London and Westminster – in the latter two seats the candidates are high profile ex Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna. However, they do look set to win St Albans from the Conservatives and to retake Richmond Park from the Tory ex London Mayoral Candidate Zac Goldsmith, who has only a majority of 45. However, lets also spare a thought for the Lib Dems’ Leader Jo Swinson, under pressure in her own seat of East Dumbartonshire, with only a majority of 5339 over her SNP rival. So far she is not been having a good election, if she were to lose her seat – unlikely I admit – this will turn into a nightmare. Their one salvation is that they may end up playing the king makers in a hung parliament scenario.
So what do I think is going to happen? The polling is pointing to anything from between a hung parliament to a Tory majority of 28. I think a small majority of around 20 is an outcome Johnson would happily have. So the campaigning ends today and tomorrow, hoards of activists, will be braving the weather to turn out their vote in first December General Election for a hundred years – and no doubt hoping that there won’t be another December General Election for another 100 years.