6 June 2017
My stock response to queries as to how I see the Thursday’s result shaping up is that we’ll all know once the polling stations have closed.
By that I mean I think the 2015 exit poll was pretty accurate. There's no reason it should be any different this time around.
Labour has made remarkable progress despite the doubts of the unbelievers; and I count myself among them. The odds against a Labour government however remain considerable.
Ironically, the terrifying scenario for the Conservatives is not a Corbyn win. They have all but dismissed the prospect from their minds.
What should keep party strategists awake at night is the remote but nagging possibility of a result which sees an unchanged majority or, even worse, a smaller one.
Polling figures touted by Lord Ashcroft, and greatly favoured by CCHQ staffers even though they emphatically deny it, don’t point anywhere near such an outcome. But if political experience in recent times tell us anything it’s that political experience doesn’t really count for much anymore.
Should the unthinkable happen, the Conservatives will be plunged into an almighty mess where strength and stability are the least noticeable qualities on offer. Support from within May’s own parliamentary ranks, where she commands only a grudging loyalty, becomes a key factor.
Inevitably, the question among the grey suits will be whether the tories can get behind a prime minister who took an unconscionable risk in calling a snap-election which many felt to be unnecessary in the first place – or so they will tell each other.
And let’s be honest, May’s cabinet has hardly covered itself in campaign glory. Michael Fallon’s guarantee of no tax increases was quickly contradicted by the PM. Boris has proved alarmingly ineffective, other than in pissing off Amber Rudd over national security.
The story is a trail of policy clarifications followed by retractions followed by silence. All of which leaves you wondering how two years of Brexit negotiations will be handled.
Just a final thought. Whilst polls have proved notoriously unreliable in past times, the bookies have been slightly more accurate. At the time of writing, Paddy Power are offering 3/1 on no overall majority.