Four takeaways from the UK General Election

This article first appeared on 16th December, for

The Exit Poll emerges triumphant but is imperfect

This may sound strange, having spent the last six weeks totally immersed in it, but this was quite a boring election. At least from a betting perspective. Once the Tories opened up an early lead, victory never looked in doubt. As for the in-play betting on election night, that proved the dampest of squibs.

The exit poll has changed election nights. For three in a row, it has projected an outlier result that proved vindicated. This time, the betting signals pointed to a small Tory majority and perhaps an exciting heat regarding whether they’d get one at all.

At a stroke, the exit poll killed that market and all the under/over seat total lines. The only exciting options that remained were the seat total bands.

It wasn’t foolproof, however. I quickly noted that the Conservative and SNP totals didn’t stack up, given that they were fighting one another in so many marginals. The exit poll wrongly gave the Scottish Nationalists numerous targets and misread several three-way marginals in London. Likewise, they rated Claire Wright more than 90% likely to win East Devon.

I draw similar conclusions from the MPR surveys. Defining the nature of each constituency using the demographics seems a superior way forward of translating the national aggregates into seat totals. However, this process is limited with regards to local or regional dynamics and tactical voting. As we see at every election, Scotland is fundamentally different to England.

The nationalist election will lead to more nationalism

Indeed, we will hear that again and again now. The United Kingdom is in grave peril, as its two principal parts are becoming one-party states. The first referendum transformed British politics – back in mid-2014, Labour were on course to win most seats in both nations.

Other dramatic events notwithstanding, I doubt much else will get a look in now. Following Brexit, the SNP will demand another referendum. The Tories will revel in denying them it, thus reinforcing their new English Nationalist credentials. The Scottish Parliamentary Elections in 2021 will be the pivotal showdown, which the SNP expect to win.

And what of Northern Ireland, where Nationalists outperformed Unionists for the first time ever? By the time of the next general election, we may have seen a referendum on Irish unity.

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