So, the first thing to say is that my election prediction was completely wrong. Not wrong, as in “A couple of seats off for each party”, but wrong as in “the course of UK history would have been different if I had been right” sort of wrong.
Given my previous record, you might have expected a bit of caution on my part. Brexit, Trump and Corbyn. I have been completely off on all of them. I’m sure this inspires great confidence, but at least I am now able to write some observations on just how wrong I was.
First off, my prediction was a Conservative majority of 72. The result was in fact a Conservative majority of minus 8 or put more simply, they fell short of a majority.
So, where did it all go wrong? Let’s pick over my predictions.
Conservatives: 42.4% – 318 seats (prediction = 44% – 361 seats)
My prediction for the Conservatives wasn’t too far off. I anticipated that their unthinking ‘Brexit means Brexit’, ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ and flag waving platitudes would see them do very well. To an extent I was right, but where they fell short was in how well the Labour Party did. May thought she would trounce Corbyn for being unfit to be Prime Minister, but following seven years of Tory misrule and a rocky Brexit process she was the one who seemed unfit to people. May’s gamble, like Cameron’s gamble backfired massively.
Labour: 40.0% – 262 (My prediction: 33% – 212 seats)
I was as surprised as anyone at just how well the Labour Party did at this election. I imagined that May’s constant talk of Corbyn’s record and repeating the mantra of being ‘strong and stable’ would see them through. In fact, the result is like getting the first whiff of spring in the eternal winter of Narnia. I am very impressed (and pleased) with just how well Labour did, but someone ought to break it to them that they didn’t actually win and that against such an ineffectual government willingly embracing self-harming Brexit they really ought to be aiming to win, not avoid calamity.
Lib Dem: 7.4% – 12 seats (My prediction: 8% – 9 seats)
Here my prediction wasn’t too far off. The Lib Dems had been hoping to mop up all those die-hard Remainers out there, but many of them ended up supporting the Brexit-supporting Labour Party instead. Funny old world.
UKIP: 1.8% – 0 seats (My prediction: 5% – 0 seats)
UKIP’s utter meltdown was more extreme than I expected, although they did win he anticipated number of seats (i.e. zero). Contrary to my prediction, UKIP voters didn’t go en masse for the Tories and instead split 50-50 to Labour and the Tories. Surprising maybe, but then many UKIP voters were Northern working class people who recoil at the idea of ever voting Tory. Maybe some of them thought, “The Brexit battle is won, now we need half-decent social services and a government that actually cares about people like us.” The idea of UKIP being a gateway drug from Labour to the Tories was not all it was cracked up to be.
Green: 1.2% – 1 seat (My prediction: 2% – 2 seats)
This result was probably the easiest to get right, nevertheless I went and got it wrong. I thought the Greens would hold onto Brighton Pavilion (which they did) and also take Bristol West (which they not). In fact, Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire in Bristol West got a majority of over 37,000, enough not only to cling on, but to build a small maisonette out of her votes and still have enough to beat the Greens with.
So the one prediction I could get on the nose fairly easily, I was also wrong on.
SNP: 35 seats (My prediction: 48 seats)
In a bizarre (and, were the circumstances different, amusing) turn of events, the only reason May is still in Downing Street is because of Scotland. Had the Tories lost all of their seats in England and not picked up any in Scotland, Corbyn might well be measuring drapes and putting his sandals on the shoe rack in number ten. It also lays dead the question of independence for the foreseeable future.
In summary, I was wrong, and wrong by quite a long way. This is good news in that usually when I’m wrong, I depress myself. This time there is a glimmer of hope that next time round “one-more-heave Corbyn” will come up trumps.