Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.
Given my lamentable failure to predict the result of the last election, I have been somewhat nervous about making any kind of prediction this time. I am not alone. I haven’t seen any of the current class of political pundits make any sort of prediction. Well, let me clutch my pearls and get the ball rolling.
The MRP/YouGov poll which got it so accurate last time is this time predicting a Tory majority of 68. One political editor I know is convinced there will be a massive Tory landslide, but is too scared to say it in public for fear of being ridiculed – a bit like I was in 2017.
I don’t blame him! While there has been a narrowing of the polls in the last ten days, they all show a consistent Tory lead of 7-12 points, mostly around the 9-10 point mark. That is not enough for a landslide – unless there are some very different regional or individual constituency voting patterns.
I also think it is still a worry that the Liberal Democrat vote could collapse even further, and Labour would be the major beneficiary of this. This could be countered by a further reduction in the Brexit Party vote in those very same seats.
So as we stand today, with six days to go until polling day my prediction is that there will be a Conservative majority of between 20 and 30. If this comes to pass it will be enough for a full five year term.
I suspect the Lib Dems will have been 15 and 25 seats, the SNP 47-52 and Labour around 230-240. In normal circumstances, we’d then see Jeremy Corbyn resigning. He’d have lost two general elections, and in this one he would have won 20-30 fewer seats than in 2017. How could he possibly cling on?
Well, he may try to. Similarly, assuming that Jo Swinson wins her seat – and that’s a big assumption – the knives will be out for her. To be frank, they already are. The Lib Dem campaign has been the worst they have fought in their 30 year existence. There are many people to blame for that, but the buck stops with Swinson, and the Lib Dems are almost as ruthless as the Conservatives at getting rid of failed leaders.
If the SNP gets more than 50 seats they will see that as a further mandate for a second independence referendum. And you’d have to say they would have a point.
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The defection of four Brexit Party MEPs yesterday is a further sign that after only nine months, the Brexit Party has outlived its usefulness.
It was a bitter blow to Nigel Farage, who has also had a dreadful election campaign. In fact, he’s been almost invisible. It’s as if he’s lost interest, and realises that by standing down more than 330 candidates he made a massive strategic error.
As luck would have it, I interviewed him last night for an hour. I can’t tell you how it went because I’m writing this in advance of the interview, but you can catch it on the LBC Youtube channel. I suspect it was a pretty robust exchange. It certainly was the last time I did an extended interview with him during the European elections.
Farage must be living under a big burden. If the Tories come up short because he has stood candidates in Conservative-Labour marginals and let Labour in, he will be accused of losing Brexit.
Because you can be sure of one thing. Unless there is a Tory majority government Brexit will be in real jeopardy. Real jeopardy. Wouldn’t it be the supreme irony if the man who did more to bring about Brexit than anyone ended up as the one who scuppered it?
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I have barely seen a poster in a window or a Correx board in a garden during this election campaign. This may be in part because people are more afraid of getting a stone through their window – but there’s another reason, too.
One of the consequences of the Craig Mackinlay court case about election expenses in Thanet in 2017 is that all the parties are looking much more carefully about what they spend, and at the conventions which were approved of by the Electoral Commission.
I am told that the cost of Correx poster boards could be written off over several elections, but now the Commission has decreed that the whole cost must be born in a single set of election expenses.
Similarly, Cabinet ministers who used to go on regional tours, with the cost born by the national campaign, are being abandoned because the cost now has to be allocated to the local campaign. So unless they’re doing media rounds, most cabinet ministers are spending the whole campaign in their constituencies.
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Election night telly will never be the same again. For the first time in my adult life, David Dimbleby will not be fronting the BBC’s coverage. Huw Edwards steps into the breach.
On Sky News, Demot Murnaghan takes over the overnight shift from Adam Boulton, and will be joined by, er, John Bercow. Quite whether that will increase their viewing figures only you can guess.
I’ll be fronting LBC’s election night programme for the fourth time, partnering Shelagh Fogarty for the third election in a row. This time it will a very visual effort. We’ll have Martin Stanford in a second studio with huge amount of graphics plus Tom Swarbrick and Theo Usherwood on camera too from the newsroom with our pundits. We’ll be streaming the whole thing live from 10pm-6am on the LBC website, Youtube channel, Facebook page and Twitter feeds. I hope you’ll join us for at least part of the night.
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This Saturday night, I am spending the night sleeping in the open air in Trafalgar Square to raise money for homeless charities through the World’s Big Sleepout, which is the brainchild of Josh Littlejohn and Dame Louise Casey, the former homelessness tsar
Yes, some of you will no doubt accuse me of virtue-signalling and worse, but do your worst. It’s like water of a duck’s back. Our rough sleeping crisis is there for all to see in London and other big cities every day of the week. And it’s also spread to many of our market towns, too.
The next Government needs to develop a proper strategy to alleviate the problem rather than the piecemeal efforts that have been deployed this far. So far I have raised more than £14,700, nearly three times my initial target. If you’d like to sponsor me just click here and donate whatever you can afford. Thank you in advance.