The British Election Study have released their data from the election campaign waves today – one large wave straight after the election was called, a wave of daily rolling polls from throughout the campaign itself and a third large wave conducted straight after the campaign. All three of these datasets were collected online by YouGov (the face-to-face element of the BES is still to come). If you’re au fait with stats software like SPSS, Stata or R the raw data is available for download on the British Election Study site here.

There’s already some analysis of the data by the BES team here (a longer version of the article you may have seen on BBC this morning), focusing on how people changed their votes between 2015 and 2017, and between the beginning and end of the election campaign.

The article breaks down 2015 vote by Remainers and Leavers. Looking at how 2015 voters who backed Leave ended up voting in 2017, the Conservatives kept the vast majority of their 2015 leave voters and picked up over half of the 2015 UKIP vote (as well as a chunk of Labour Leavers). The collapse of UKIP wasn’t all to the Conservatives’ favour though, 18% of UKIP Leavers ended up moving to Labour.

Turning to the Remain vote, Labour were the clear victor: around a third of 2015 Tories who voted remain drifted away from the party, either to Labour or to the Lib Dems, but Labour also picked up a chunk of the 2015 Lib Dem vote and most of the 2015 Green vote. Of course, while this is easy to view through the prism of Brexit, that doesn’t necessarily mean Brexit was the main driver (to give an obvious example, yes – a large proportion of Green Remain voters moved to Labour… but a large proportion of the 2015 Green vote had already moved to Labour before the referendum, presumably as a result of the direction Jeremy Corbyn had taken the party).

More interesting is the movement during the campaign itself. 19% of people changed how they would vote between the start and the end of the campaign. This is not in itself unusual – in 2015 the figure was 17%, and according to the BES team it was higher in 2010 and 2005. The difference in 2017 is that this movement was overwhelmingly in favour of the Labour party, whereas at previous elections the churn largely cancelled itself out. Hence during the campaign we can see significant numbers of Tory votes, Lib Dem voters and, most of all, don’t knows moving towards Labour, but very little movement away from Labour.

In terms of explanations for the movement – while the voters Labour attracted during the campaign were those you’d expect to be the most receptive (that is, tending to be opposed to a hard-Brexit and left-leaning), the most obvious movement was on leadership ratings, that sharp collapse in Theresa May’s ratings and the steady increase in Jeremy Corbyn’s, and those people who moved to Labour during the campaign were also those who displayed the biggest increase in their perceptions of Jeremy Corbyn.

Ed and Chris’s full article is here.


372 Responses to “British Election Study release their campaign data”

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  1. Any sign of tables etc for the YG poll?
    Are they starting to bugger about with the raw data again and if so how?

  2. @Danny
    “We in the Uk are very very complacent about democracy. All that keeps the democratic process working in the Uk is good will, no legal framework at all.”

    There’s always room for improvement but that doesn’t make comparisons to countries like North Korea or Venezuela very helpful or relevant – which is what I was referencing.

    Alec

    “Idle speculation”

    No need really to accept ON’s adjective. I’m sure we’re permitted to speculate in any way we choose – whether idly or energetically…

  3. On the surprising salience of foxhunting see
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-40085091

    “YouGov’s research director, Anthony Wells, says people who react badly to the fox hunting policy “probably didn’t vote Tory in the last five elections” – but the policy meant they were less likely to be convinced by Conservative attempts at softening the party’s traditional image.”

  4. I had a look back at SSimon’s excellent collation of predictions.
    Back on 17 May the prediction of vote share ranged from a Tory lead over Lab of 11 up to 25 with the consensus being about 20.
    By the eve of polling day and polling day itself (alert, switch of methodology) the 71 predictions ranged from a Tory OM of 152 to Tory falling short of an OM by 80. Mean was an OM of 39.
    All of which might explain why a defensive strategy wasn’t a bad call, though in hindsight…

  5. ALISDAIR @ DANNY

    …. except the Representation of the People Acts and their amendments.

    Which any Westminster Parliament can repeal on the no parliament can bind its successor principle.

    The ECHR guarantees many of the other rights that are necessary for a functioning democracy — freedom of speech and the right to a fair trial being foremost.

    Which the current government wants to replace with a local act which any Westminster Parliament can repeal on the no parliament can bind its successor principle.

  6. Conspiracy Theories
    The site is awash with these. I used to think that these were strictly for the uneducated. But I now believe in conspiracies at a certain level: eg., my local primary school sending out letters to parents declaring X was the policy, when leaked emails revealed that privately they were attempting to achieve the exact opposite.

    I think this arrogance on behalf of those who hold power reflects the corrupting effects of the centralisation of power at all levels: such a marked feature of Brit culture since Thatcher; the more authoritarian a society, the more its comtrollers will conspire: tho this in itself is a conspiracy theory.

    But I don’t believe that the Tories tried to lose the election, that “Blairites” tried to sabotage the Lab campaign, etc. This requires levels of mass, covert co-ordination & purposefulness which cannot be disguised. The evidence for the latter seems circumstantial.

  7. Good article on Slugger re Sir Jeffrey’s cunning border plan.

    Written by an IT specialist, as a semi-retired IT specialist myself I am unsurprisingly in agreement with all of it and particularly the following 3 paras:

    Mr Donaldson made specific reference to the Irish road tolling system. Number plate recognition, used for some Irish tolls (also used in London to manage the Congestion Charge), can only tell you that a vehicle with a given registration travelled past a certain point at a certain time. By itself, it can’t tell you anything else about the vehicle – the make/model, the owner, the tax or test status. It can’t even tell you if the vehicle is stolen. That information comes from other databases, and they may or may not be available across jurisdictional boundaries. A stolen car crossing the border will not be flagged up unless that information has been shared. Extensive sharing of vehicle and criminal justice databases, in both directions, would be required.

    Having solved the problem of database sharing, the next practical obstacle is the need to install these systems at every border crossing point. With those camera sites in place – 300 or so of them, many of them along roads that are barely more than dirt tracks – an expensive strategy would need to be in place to address disruption to the cameras. Criminals could, for example, arrange to cut the power of a camera, or otherwise damage it, in advance of trying to move illicit goods; or they could, even more simply, arrange to cover their number plates when they’re in the vicinity of a camera.

    Then, if you somehow solve those problems, you’re still back at the point where you only know about the movement of vehicles. It’s impossible to know about the movement of the vehicle’s contents, or people within vehicles, although cameras are becoming available which can make a good attempt at counting the number of occupants in a vehicle (although tinted windows or other obstruction may prove a difficulty).

  8. @R HUCKLE
    “P
    August 3rd, 2017 at 10:04 am”

    When you make a comment that is subject to auto moderation for some unknown reason and all that is shown is a “P”.

    My response to Colin about Brexit is that it should not be presumed that it will definitely happen on any basis.

    It is not the case that Parliament would allow Brexit with either a no deal or a bad deal.

    Government is accountable to Parliament and cannot take actions in the EU without Parliament agreeing to it. The Article 50 bill did not authorise Brexit on any basis.

  9. R HUCKLE

    “The Article 50 bill did not authorise Brexit on any basis.”

    It is necessary perhaps also to state that it should not be presumed that it will definitely happen on any basis.

    That the Article 50 Act didn’t authorise the repeal of the European Communities Act etc is undoubtedly true. It just (probably, that’s another point where there is a counter view) authorised the Notice of Withdrawal.

    But a mere change of mind by Parliament, or even by HMG, may not be sufficient to make on jot of difference now, since that depends on the question, on which the Article itself is helpfully silent, of whether the notice can be withdrawn and the process stopped.

    I have seen cogent arguments, between which I am not remotely qualified to judge that say:
    (a) it can be withdrawn unilaterally by the UK;
    (b) it can only be withdrawn multilaterally via the negotiation process;
    (c) it can’t be withdrawn at all and the UK would need to reapply.

    Added to which, given that the Government has (probably) lawfully exercised the prerogative power to give notice as duly authorised by the 2107 Act, I am not sure of a mechanism by which Parliament can compel it to rescind it.

    In short, this is a mess. Article 50 feels like it was a token provision, to lay down a right in principle and avoid the mess that the United States got into by having two views over whether such a right even existed, but without any real expectation it would be exercised in practice.

  10. Aaagh. That should read “definitely NOT happen on any basis”.

    By which I mean that there is no singly agreed legal basis on which it might reach a state of not happening either.

  11. @Danny

    “I think what they achieved was raising the PROMISE of what labour might do, ie as a better alternative.”

    ————

    Well yes, especially among property-less Labour voters. But among the properties folk leaning Tory… especially after the “garden tax”? Maybe not so much…

  12. @turk

    ‘re policy and spending, the Tory manifesto had very few if any costings in it or detail on how costed proposals ( such as the increase in NHS spending) would be funded. Was this more honest than the Labour manifesto?

  13. Piping up on the discussion regarding the Tory manifesto, I do think it was the most spectacular own goal, more in terms of tone than content. Sold properly, a manifesto of more money for the NHS, more housebuilding, lower taxes, properly funded social care, and stronger worker and consumer protections would have been much more appealing to moderate voters. Instead we get continuing austerity, fox hunting, hammering the elderly, and taking away school meals. They led on the wrong things, put in too much detail where they shouldn’t have and too little where they should, and gave Labour the opportunities they needed to paint the Tories as the same old nasty party. This was presentation (an area where May herself was a total disaster), and possibly a result of putting the manifesto together in a closed room using a handful of people with little campaigning experience who were too enamoured with their own ideas. If they’d run it past more people and properly tested it then they probably would have managed to expunge some of the worst parts and reformat more or less the same set of policies into something more appealing.

    @ HIRETON

    I suppose the argument goes that if you’re only proposing shuffling a few billion around here and there then demonstrating that your sums add up is a lot less important than if you’re proposing the biggest tax and spending hikes in peacetime history.

  14. @ALEC

    I find it interesting that the Tories seemed as ill prepared for the election as the Labour party. I also think that the polls pretty much confirmed our pre conceived biases. The number of times that Corbyn was monikered as hard left for example by Janan Ganesh in the FT was astonishing. We had already prepared a script about the each politician despite not have a clue as to whether they were good bad or indifferent

    The perceptions relied on a media narrative in my view. I have used this youtube video to show how weird our preconceptions are and indeed I think that the Tories must have polled the fact that Corbyn is marmite but the real problem with Corbyn is that if you blank the face his message actually resonates

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7lsRbDKOXg&t=4s

    My view is that Tory voters decided early that they were going to vote Tory and Labour voters in the main decided late, coupled wit the unreporting of the youth vote mean that people got Labour’s poll rating incorrect.

    What is surprising is not that Tories got 42.4% but that Labour got 40%. I feel the reason that LD got into the 20+% in 2010 was essentially a media narrative and some great projection. I fear that because of what they did in government that projection is tempered by what they actually do. It is why little parties get hammered in coalitions since they basically are subsumed into the bigger party.
    to the point that you have Tories claiming gay marriage as a success even though over half of all Tory MPs voted against it, the media narrative seems to be to ask Tim Farron what are his thoughts on gays and abortion yet the data and evidence would suggest you could ask lots of Tories the same question and get equally interesting answers. There was also the idea of once a narrative catches hold it is difficult to break.

    What was interesting is the EU referendum changed the debate what is subtle about it was that people were complaining not about immigration per se (the solution to many of our ills seemed to be a reduction in immigration it seemed) but the cause of our ills was a lack of government services , housing and decent jobs/wages we seemed to use Brexit as a simile for all of these things. When we t’take back control’ we can build more houses (not that houses were the pervey of the EU)

    I think some peopel understood this as an underlying issue and therefore the point where I agree with DANNY about this election being about brexit is crystalised in Lord Ashcrofts book

    Lord Ashcroft says the following: “whatever was printed on the ballot paper the question large numbers of voters heard and the answer they gave had nothing much to do with the European Union … ultimately, the question many saw was: ‘Are you happy with the way things are and the way they seem to be going?’ And their answer was: ‘Well, since you ask … no'”

    This is from someone whom prefered brexit so it is an interesting analysis

  15. GarJ

    Do you have a verifiable source for your assertion “biggest peace time tax hikes” I’ve seen that claim bandied about but I’ve never seen any statistical evidence for it

  16. Garj and now Energy companies are increasing prices and the Gov’t is renaging on one of the pledges that was actually popular!

    Supplying their own amo the opposition for the next GE.

  17. Alec,
    May isnt in this to start a long career in parliament, This is a last job before retirement. She might care about her legacy, but that would not be helped if she leads the country unwilling into hard brexit. She does not care about her ultimate popularity amongst conservative MPs, although they do seem to have taken her strategy quite well. They plainly do like something about the current setup.

    “you should recall numerous media reports about how the government was desperately trying to keep the focus on Brexit and leadership”

    Indeed, but that simply makes my argument, that the conservatives conceived this as a referendum on hard Brexit and wanted to keep the focus. I think they succeeded in keeping focus, but failed at the ballot because voters rejected them and their policy. Although labour never mentioned brexit, their play was always, ‘conservatives will give you hard brexit but we will give you..[insert issue of the day]’. Labour brilliantly opposed hard Brexit but avoided saying what they did want instead, simply making it clear they wanted something different.

    “at the mercy of internal factions and external opponents”

    we have to agree to disagree. If May had got her big majority for hard Brexit, that is where we would be going right now and conservatives remainers would have been silenced. There would not have been any debate. Had she continued without an election, it looked pretty likely she would be heading for internal division and the spectacle of the tories defeating themselves.

    As it is now, May has already got onboard another party to share responsibility, especially in regard to what happens to Ireland, which has always looked difficult.

    As things progress, she can look forward to defeats by the opposition instead of by tory rebels. Obviously not the fault of her party if non conservatives oppose her. Not out of the woods by any means, but the mathematics will definitely force labour to take a position which will influence the final outcome. If labour support her plans, blame gets shared if it all ends badly. If labour oppose her plans, she blames them for interfering and it going wrong.

  18. CAMBRIDGERACHEL @ GARJ

    Wiki’s History of taxation in the United Kingdom includes:

    The highest rate of income tax peaked in the Second World War at 99.25%. It was then slightly reduced and was around 90% through the 1950s and 60s.

    Bearing in mind the fact that Corporation Tax did not exist until the 1970 act, but paid Income Tax instead, Lab will be going some to beat a rate of 99.35%!

  19. 99.25% !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Or 90% in peacetime

  21. @ cambridgerachel

    So 52% of people want to have their cake and eat it too. Prepare to be disappointed.

  22. Wasn’t there a marginal tax rate of 102% on investment income in the 1970s?

  23. Pangloss is with us today I think Alec.

  24. Barbazenzero

    It’s true, but they still paid a much smaller proportion of the total income tax than today.

    Comparative taxation is notoriously difficult – both in time and internationally.

    There is no proper unit (individual, household) that is comparable, and then the variety of taxas. The excuses (aka methodological notes) in the OECD statistics on taxation of wages is longer than the data.

    The real issue is the taxation, or the impossibility of it, of the lower 50? because of the wage levels. In technological terms it would be possible to tax every penny earned on a progressive, continuous function for everyone (including taxation of benefits), and hence overcoming the problem of the sum and distribution of tax revenue (and reintroducing those nice, high marginal rates). But I guess it wouldn’t be a vote winner.

  25. BARNY @ CAMBRIDGERACHEL

    Given that no government has used the options within the EU to return workers with no job after 3 months, and that the EEA option allows further flexibility on movement of labour, how many of the 52% would have enough knowledge to be disappointed?

  26. LASZLO @ BZ

    Comparative taxation is notoriously difficult – both in time and internationally.

    Agreed. I’m more concerned by GARJ’s unsubstantiated assertion.

  27. Barbazenzero

    Yes, some taxes were a lot higher at one time and some were much lower. But the contention is that Labour’s proposed tax increases would be the biggest peacetime hike not that they would be the highest taxes ever, although I’ve seen people saying that as well. I haven’t found any evidence that either confirms or denies that assertion. But I’m useless at searching for info.

  28. More concerning for me is the balance of taxation which favours rentiers over productive activities

  29. @BARABRENZO

    “Given that no government has used the options within the EU to return workers with no job after 3 months, and that the EEA option allows further flexibility on movement of labour”

    The options to return workers are there in theory under the freedom of movement of labour/ freedom of establishment rules, but don’t really exist any more to a meaningful sense in practice given the way in which the ECJ has developed the single citizen concept since Maastricht as more general right of settlement.

    It is as I understand largely because these don’t apply in the EEA but outside the EU that the practical effects of free movement of labour are different, rather than because the free movement of labour provisions as such are different.

  30. @Carfrew “They don’t think Corbyn meant to cancel all the debt. Nice try, but waaaasy off base unfortunately.”

    Not at all.

    Polling shows:

    17% thought he meant to cancel all debt
    26% thought he meant he’d cancel some debt

    That means 4.6 out of 10 people (a very large section of voters) thought Corbyn would either reduce or zero out student debt.

    So my statement holds water whereas your assertion lacks merit.

  31. SC – sadly we don’t know how many of that 17% were Labour voters and how may of them might have voted differently has they understood the position. differently

    I did have to correct one person o the doorstep who magic money treed me and used this as an example.

    They were voting Tory anyhow as I could tell as they then went on about some other stuff.

    Maybe some of that 17% thought it was a commitment too far and moved away from Labour as a result?

    Reckon few voters will change their mind on discovering the policy was different to what they believed. The attempt to portray Corbyn as a deliberate misleader (same old politician) could have more impact but I think has gained little traction.

  32. @Barney “So 52% of people want to have their cake and eat it too. Prepare to be disappointed.”

    This is not made any easier by both the Tories and Labour continually suggesting that we can have the same benefits of the single market and control immigration. Keir Starmer is the worst culprit IMO.

  33. Also we don’t know how many thought the debt would be cancelled before the fabricated attacks on Corbyn’s “U-turn on student debt”

  34. Barbazenzero

    I assume this is what Jeffrey D is talking about and thinks he is answering

    https://www.rha.uk.net/news/press-releases/2017-03-march/we-need-a-brexit-that-avoids-chaos-on-every-approa

    “The trucking industry is the life blood of the UK economy. We literally deliver our economy, with 85% of everything we eat, drink, wear or build with travelling by truck.

    “For the good of the UK economy the government must achieve a Brexit outcome that guarantees frictionless movements through ports and across borders, a level playing field for UK truckers to compete with those based on the continent, and a continuing ability to recruit foreign drivers.

    “Our ferry ports, and the border in Ireland, need to have arrangements that allow trucks to move freely away from border areas,” continued Richard Burnett. “Simply using current customs practices and applying them to UK/EU traffic risks delays of biblical proportions which would strangle growth and hurt the entire economy. We risk the chaos of Operation Stack becoming the norm and being replicated on the approach to every ferry port in Britain. A bad outcome for the UK road haulage industry will be a bad outcome for UK Plc.”

  35. Barbazenzero

    This is from the comments section on the post at Slugger’s about Jeffrey D’s opinion on the border for |NI/Ireland and customs control

    “I know its an anecdotal story, but an English friend of mine is a doctor of UK constitutional law and EU law in a leading University over there. She was assigned a brief to present, over a few sessions, the basics to some DUP party members of the customs union/single market and the principles of EU law on which it was based. The idea was to give objective expert analysis on the implications for NI and possible solutions, as limited as they are. Anyways, apparently the DUP just spend the whole time accusing her of being pessimistic and “scaremongering”, refusing to believe this could be in anyway negative for NI, and basically challenging her professional independance. In her words, “the most ignorant and rude people I have ever presented anything to. Never again.”

    Things like that explain comments like those of Sir Jeffrey. As surprising as this may seen, this is not based on any sort of technical understanding or legal analysis, folks.”

  36. @DANNY

    I understand your view that Brexit was central to GE2017 but I also believe how people interpreted brexit varied from person to person. There was no definitive meaning to brexit as Lord Ashcroft wrote in his book about the EU referendum

    I think Brexit is front and centre of our debate because essentially it has become a meme for everything. Form what to do about interest rates, to public sector pay house prices, you name it there is a brexit function to it.

    Indeed my view is the EU referendum far from many people beign about the EU was about essentially people registerign discontent with the way things are going.

    Brexit feels like argument that is happening in the US, it is about culture wars, social conservatives versus social liberals somethign that struggles to fit into party lines.

    Take gay marriage as an example, This is supposed t be the Tories pinnacle of social liberalism, more than half of all Tory MPs voted against it . I find it funny that Scottish Tory leader was asking May not to give way to the DUP on the rights she has when her own party if left on it’s own would not give her those rights show how screwed up our politics is at the moment and more over how we fail as a society to actually see such inconsistencies

  37. PETERW @ BZ

    The options to return workers are there in theory under the freedom of movement of labour/ freedom of establishment rules, but don’t really exist any more to a meaningful sense in practice given the way in which the ECJ has developed the single citizen concept since Maastricht as more general right of settlement.

    Do you have any examples to back that up? europa.eu’s Residence formalities doesn’t seem to have changed recently. In particular, the right of settlement still requires that one has “comprehensive health insurance cover in your host country & sufficient income to live there without needing income support” whilst the right to seek employment abroad still shows that the host country can ask you to leave if you cannot prove that you have a realistic chance of finding work there.

    We’re in agreement that in the EEA but outside the EU that the practical effects of free movement of labour are different, rather than because the free movement of labour provisions as such are different. They’re in ANNEX V of the EEA Agreement which is mainly unreadable due to the use of external references.

    BTW, please use BZ if you don’t use copy & paste.

  38. PTRP – to be fair reckon comfortably more than half of Cons NPs would back Equal Marriage now.

  39. Jim jam

    What about the membership?

  40. Good point Rachel,

    As Crofty pointed out they bget they final say on the new leader after May.

    They only tolerated Cameron’s liberalism as they had been out of power for a while.

  41. SAM @ BZ

    I assume this is what Jeffrey D is talking about and thinks he is answering

    Quite so, and thanks for the link to the crystal-clear We need a Brexit that avoids chaos on every approach to every ferry port in Britain says RHA. Even the Notes to Editors are worth reading.

    As Brendan Heading put it in the Slugger article I linked to earlier: Sir Jeffrey’s invocation of a solution he does not understand, to solve a problem whose scope and detail has not been defined, is archetypal of the era within which we find ourselves.

  42. @Sea Change

    “17% thought he meant to cancel all debt
    26% thought he meant he’d cancel some debt
    That means 4.6 out of 10 people (a very large section of voters) thought Corbyn would either reduce or zero out student debt.
    So my statement holds water whereas your assertion lacks merit.”

    ———

    Jeez.

    The idea he might cancel SOME of the existing debt is hardly in dispute, and is not “dodgy” as you claimed.

    The issue was over whether he would cancel ALL of the existing debt. Which he has not claimed, and only 17% believe that he has.

    And there’s a vague over how many of these are taking a partisan view, scraping the barrel etc.

  43. Oh dear, just saw this on Twitter.

    Macron’s popularity is plummeting, down to 36% in the latest YouGov poll. He is now lower than Hollande at the same point of his presidency.

  44. @Sea Change

    And in the bit of my post you quoted I was clearly talking about ALL the debt. Posting data about SOME of the debt does therefore not refute my point. If you can’t tell the difference between “all” and “some” then you are going to tie yourself up in knots.

    In the meantime, perhaps you can explain why most do NOT think he meant cancelling ALL the existing debt…

  45. Re polls as “evidence” of what people say they thought.

    My cynicism tells me that non Lab voters/incliners will say that they “thought” Corbyn meant that all student debt would be cancelled whereas the opposing group will say they didn’t.

    Those in the middle will, largely, either not have noticed what he said in the first place or, if they did, not have spent any time analysing it. **

    The most ridiculous mis-use of polling “evidence” was that which showed a majority of voters less inclined to vote Tory if Heseltine took over from Thatcher instead of Major.

    It was a killer poll at the time. Sadly it included Tory voters in the figures, so actually meant that that section really just meant that they preferred Major, not that they would end up voting Labour.

    Had they polled just undecideds it would have shown a completely different answer – and was clearly designed by the commissioning, right-wing newspaper to scupper Michael Heseltine.

    ** It’s almost impossible to underestimate how little interest most people have in politics. I am caught between being embarrassed and surprised that I have any myself.

  46. Paul – you have said more succinctly what I was trying to say.

  47. “They only tolerated Cameron’s liberalism as they had been out of power for a while.”

    ———

    Indeed. And unlike with Blair’s quasi-liberal takeover of the Labour Party, where they let him stay in power and let him lock out the traditional Labour peeps more and more, Tories resisted Cameron’s attempt to neuter the 1922 committee and got rid of him as soon as.

  48. What’s notable about the 17% figure regarding student debt, is that it implies even quite a few Tories don’t think Corbyn meant all the debt.

  49. @Danny – I’ve seen this on here many times before, and indeed been guilty of it myself at times, but sometimes perfectly sane and insightful posters can sit quietly at home and take an argument far further than it really should survive, and as a result get themselves deeply tied up in knots.

    You say – “Indeed, but that simply makes my argument, that the conservatives conceived this as a referendum on hard Brexit and wanted to keep the focus. I think they succeeded in keeping focus,….”

    All the evidence here is against you. If you did what the BBC did and analysed the main news issues during the campaign, you wuld see clearly that there was far, far more coverage of domestic ‘bread and butter’ issues and way less coverage of Brexit than everyone expected. Yes, Labour did neutralise much of their Brexit discomfit rather brilliantly, but they also pulled the Tories into the heart of the ground Labour wanted to fight on. This was a massive Tory miscalculation. They thought like people in Westminster thought, and didn’t realise that normal people think more abaout the day to day stuff.

    You say –

    “If May had got her big majority for hard Brexit, that is where we would be going right now and conservatives remainers would have been silenced. There would not have been any debate. Had she continued without an election, it looked pretty likely she would be heading for internal division and the spectacle of the tories defeating themselves.”

    This is internally illogical. If remainers had been silenced and there was no debate, then where is the internal division? Are you seriously trying to tell UKPR that there isn’t open warfare in the Cabinet, let alone the party. Did Hammond not just say this week that we would have extended free movement as part of a transition deal, only for the PM to deny this?

    I just don’t get your thinking on this at all. A big majority on May’s Brexit terms would have given her the authority to deliver the Brexit she wanted. Now, she has no authority, and even her own ministers are openly arguing there is no electoral mandate for the kind of Brexit she argued for.

    You say –

    “As it is now, May has already got onboard another party to share responsibility, especially in regard to what happens to Ireland, which has always looked difficult.”

    Believe me, if Brexit starts to become a difficult issue in NI, the DUP will drop May like hot coals. While I can foresee some circumstances where the DUP share some blame if things go wrong, just how, precisely, will that affect the next electoral challenge the Tories would face? Lab and Con don’t even stand in NI, and I doubt it will be of much import in English, Scottish and Welsh marginals for the Tories to claim it wasn’t all their fault and the DUP should share some of the blame.

    You say –

    “As things progress, she can look forward to defeats by the opposition instead of by tory rebels. Obviously not the fault of her party if non conservatives oppose her. Not out of the woods by any means, but the mathematics will definitely force labour to take a position which will influence the final outcome. If labour support her plans, blame gets shared if it all ends badly. If labour oppose her plans, she blames them for interfering and it going wrong.”

    As @Jim Jam says, somewhat Panglossian. Yes, there are some risks to Labour, depending what issues they force to a vote and defeat, but just remember this – Labour cannot defeat the government without Tory rebellions.

    Does anyone ever remember Labour’s position on Maastricht and the individual votes that Majr lost? Of course not. All they recall is the trench warfare between Tory factions and the famous ‘[email protected]’. Riven parties lose, and this result merely opens up Tory divisions, as you yourself have already admitted.

    None of this is to say that events, Labour mistakes and nimble political footwork from May could yet salvage something positive from this – the future is as yet unwritten, after all.

    But that is not the same as claiming that May is now in a better position than she would have been had she won big. Whatever happens, she is going to own Brexit and everything that flows from that. Including the internal disintegration of her party as the detailed decisions of Brexit come to be made.

  50. “JIM JAM
    Paul – you have said more succinctly what I was trying to say.”

    I am blushing.

    It didn’t feel succinct as I typed it though….

    One of the more obvious problems with polls is that they do not include a:

    “I couldn’t give toss mate” response.

    If they did it would be very informative.

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