UK General Election: Seven known unknowns heading into the campaign

This article first appeared on 4th November 2019, at

Everything about the Brexit Party

The idea of a formal pact between the Tories and Brexit Party looks doomed after the latter confirmed their intention to fight every constituency. It remains to be seen whether an informal pact, where they target Labour-held Leave seats that are realistically beyond the Tories, emerges.

Nigel Farage, however, will not run and instead will use his LBC show as a platform. If his damning critique of the Brexit deal cuts through, that could present a real problem for the Tories. Alternatively early polling trends, and much of the mood music from allies like Aaron Banks, suggest they will be attacked for endangering Brexit and duly squeezed.

The December effect?

There hasn’t been a December election since 1923 and we can only guess how that might affect opinion and voting patterns. It isn’t clear where polling stations will be, given that many will already be booked up with nativity plays and the like. That must have the potential to annoy voters.

And what of turnout? It will be dark by 4pm in the North and Scotland – key battlegrounds. The weather may be atrocious – what if there are floods or whole areas snowed in? It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that the election is postponed.

Can Labour change the conversation again?

As in 2017, the polls indicate a whopping Tory victory with Jeremy Corbyn and Labour in dire straits. We know what happened then. An election that was supposed to be all about Brexit suddenly turned into a conversation on domestic policy – particularly austerity – and the polls were transformed.

It is quite possible that Labour’s dire poll rating is due to a Brexit-obsessed news cycle. Anything that invokes nationalism is a conversation they would rather avoid and hurts their cause. Their focus will instead be on public services, inequality, building a fairer society. An entirely different conversation which, if cutting through, has transformative potential.

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