Literally nobody knows where politics is heading. One way or another, voters may well be called to the polls at some point in 2019. With the odds at political betting sites about a second referendum drifting, a general election seems likelier.
Labour want one, are committed to pursuing it and have been on an election footing since 2017. Rumours persist of Tory preparations for a snap February poll. If Theresa May can’t secure her Brexit deal and parliament forces a delay beyond June, she may decide calling Jeremy Corbyn’s bluff to be her best option.
The betting is virtually tied, with the Conservatives best-priced at 19/20 with Betway to win the most seats and Labour at 21/20 with the same bookie.
Likewise the polls are virtually tied, as they have been since the 2017 election and indicated by local results. Two of the last three general elections produced hung parliaments and in the other, David Cameron’s small majority required a big betting upset. No Overall Majority is available at 5/4 with Paddy Power.
Ask any psephologist and they will predict more of the same but nothing, of course, is predictable anymore. In both 2015 and 2017 the polls, pundits and bookies were all proved spectacularly wrong.
Is two-party politics sustainable?
One reason behind unpredictability has been the rise and fall of smaller parties during a period of realignment. The Lib Dems lost two-thirds of their vote share after 2010, with most eventually backing Labour. The SNP swept Scotland, primarily at Labour’s expense. UKIP won 4M votes in 2015, then lost 85% of them.
It seems voters wised up to the ‘first past the post’ electoral system in 2017 and – during a polarised era – united around the only realistic winners. Is that the new normal or a temporary, tactical development?