On Thursday 12 December the UK will be going to the polls. The UK is supposed to have general elections every 5 years, December’s poll will be the UK’s 3rd general election in four and a half years.
It is risky to make predictions about what will happen in elections, and in the current climate particularly so. The UK is deeply divided on the issue of Brexit, but also on austerity and on the continued membership of Scotland and Northern Ireland of the United Kingdom.
The polls suggest that the Conservative Party are ahead. Before the 2017 general election they put the Conservatives 20 points ahead of Labour, on election night the Conservatives lost their majority and Labour made significant electoral gains. On the eve of the Brexit referendum polls were showing remain would win, the polls were wrong. Even if we look at the 2015 and 2010 UK elections, the polls weren’t that reliable in picking the results.
Globally we have seen trends of campaigns making a big difference. The 2017 NZ election saw Labour win an upset victory over the conservative National Government where Jacinda Ardern became Prime Minister. In 2015 Justin Trudeau’s Canadian Liberal party went from 3rd place in the polls at the start of the year to government a few months later, though in the recent election saw a sudden and significant decline in support for the Liberals in Canada.
The 2019 election will be the first December election held in the UK for over 100 years. Generally it’s agreed its best not to hold elections in the middle of winter, the impact of this is as yet unknown. Also a general election after 2 years of Brexit paralysis will be an opportunity for an increasingly frustrated and angry public to punish those they deem responsible.
Of course one of the major factors in this election, like all elections to the House of Commons is the electoral system. Nearly a year ago I posted about electoral reform, and outlined why I don’t support the First Past the Post electoral system. Specifically First Past the Post often produces results that don’t reflect public opinion. For example in 2017 the Conservatives nationally won 42.4% of the vote, and have been supported in government by the Democratic Unionist Party who got 0.9% of the vote nationally and 36% of the vote in Northern Ireland. The full results can be seen here. So for the last 29 months the UK has been government by parties that over 56% voters didn’t support. The Make Votes Matter campaign are building support for Proportional Representation in the UK so that the nationally vote actually matter.
Despite the broken electoral system, and general cynicism about UK politics, it is important that all allegeable voters turn out to vote. If you live in the UK, you have till 26 November to enrol to vote in the coming General election. You can register to vote here.
I will be doing regular posts during the election, focussing on key issues and developments.