Speculations on the forthcoming British election

by on April 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm in Current Affairs, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

An interesting theory is that a big victory will make a softer Brexit more likely, since May will no longer have to appease her more eurosceptic backbenchers. And so by 2022, in theory, the most turbulent period of Brexit will have passed, and Labour, or the new centrist ‘Democrat’ Party or whoever is in opposition, are hardly likely to stand on a platform of a European remarriage following the complex divorce. In the meantime another good result for the SNP, which seems likely, will surely give Nicola Sturgeon a mandate for a second referendum. And then there’s Northern Ireland…

That is from Ed West, via Mark Koyama.

1 Axa April 18, 2017 at 1:37 pm

PM Cameron had the same idea: “if I make a referendum and I win, I don’t have to concede anything to Eurosceptics”.

2 leppa April 18, 2017 at 2:08 pm

many a slip between the ballot box and the results.

3 chris purnell April 19, 2017 at 12:39 pm

The bookies are offering 1/2 at the moment which is hardly landslide territory. The idea that the British public will stand for 7 weeks of brexit politics is laughable. She is a victim of availability bias and given the balkanisation of British politics I’d expect a coalition.

4 Ray Lopez April 18, 2017 at 2:36 pm

+1; not only that, the analysis that TC cites makes the following assumption: a vote for May will be a vote for a ‘orderly’ BrExit rather than an abrupt BrExit. I doubt the average UK voter is thinking this. I think the average voter is thinking: a vote for May is a vote for BrExit while a vote against May is a vote for old “Remain”, that is, a vote against BrExit.

I predict May will lose at the polls, and it will be a BrExit shock. The polls are wrong because due to business cycle upswings, the economy is getting better worldwide, so the average Brit will be against radical changes like BrExit.

5 PD Shaw April 18, 2017 at 3:39 pm

The so-called BrExit shock was due to elite inability to understand when polls are showing a statistical tie. The current polls show the tories receiving almost twice the number of votes as their nearest competitor (46% versus 25% for Labour) Are you predicting Labour will win?

6 leppa April 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Chances are low, but a labor-Liberal coalition could give a fight.

7 Nyx April 18, 2017 at 6:29 pm

Labour and the Liberals will never agree to a coalition. Saint Corbyn is too pure to break bread with neoliberal scum, and the last time the Lib Dems did one of the big parties a favor, they got the short end of the stick. Farron will pursue stubborn Remainers hard, while Corbyn will continue to do nothing, just as he did in the referendum.

8 Ray Lopez April 18, 2017 at 5:58 pm

@PD Shaw – are you saying the referendum will be along party lines? If a Conservative “REMAIN” voter hates BrExit, they will vote for May regardless? I don’t know UK politics, but if so, that shows a certain rigidity of mind I would not approve of.

9 M April 19, 2017 at 1:51 am

Ashcroft’s polling (essentially all we have for EU independence ref vote crosstabbed against past and future voting intention) shows very low loss of Remain Tories. Not single issue voters.


10 PD Shaw April 19, 2017 at 8:07 am

I’m saying for the Conservatives to lose, someone has to win. If you can’t predict who will win, then you’ve identified a reason Conservatives won’t lose.

11 Alistair April 18, 2017 at 9:30 pm

Ladbrokes has Conservatives at 90% odds for a majority, if you want to put your money where your mouth is.

12 Anon April 18, 2017 at 10:13 pm

And what did Ladbrokes have Brexit at ? Or Hillary Clinton ?

13 Sam Haysom April 18, 2017 at 1:46 pm

When you wishcast upon a star.

14 dan1111 April 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm

I don’t think it’s necessarily wishful thinking to imagine that May doesn’t really want a hard Brexit. She was a party insider who made no effort to campaign for leaving the EU.

Also there are clear incentives to take a hard Brexit stance (for now). Besides needing to satisfy the Eurosceptic wing of the party, her current position might be seen as an opening position in negotiations with the EU. Even if she doesn’t want a hard Brexit, starting off by demanding one is probably the best bargaining strategy.

I find the claims to be a quite plausible reading of the situation (though not the only possibility).

15 Passingby April 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm

May not only “made no effort” to campaign for leave; she announced for remain.

But I think that misses the point: she has realigned since then in favour of what is called (misleadingly perhaps) “hard” Brexit: end to free movement, no jurisdiction for the CJEU.

She has committed to this enough that it will be difficult to row back from, and I think because she is sincere on it. She has taken last year’s referendum as a decisive change in the political equilibrium and moved to make that the Tory party’s own.

This is quite sensible; within most of the UK, the referendum is seen that way. That’s why UKIP struggles (their role taken by the stories), and the Labour Party only ever accepts the fundamental premises of the Brexit decision. The Lib Dem positioning as the Remain party is a short-term boost for a party that was otherwise at a very low ebb and anyway has a core demographic that is very Remain anyway.

Ed West’s argument re “softening” Brexit is I think misplaced. What *is* true is that it gives May more room for a transitional period in Brexit to soften the adjustment. But a solid Tory majority and no election until 2022 will allow her to make the “good deal or no deal” threat more credible. (Current parliamentary arithmetic could mean her government being thrown out if she lost the confidence of the Commons, and little time to adjust to a shock if the “no deal” option were taken before an election in 2020.)

16 Li Zhi April 18, 2017 at 1:52 pm

If TC feels it is an interesting “theory” then he’s entitled to that opinion. I continue my boring tirade on his failure to define his terms. “Softer”? “bigger”? “more likely”? How do we determine whether it is “more likely”? That’s blatant nonsense. Time/History is one-way, unique and as far as I can tell non-linear. Softer? At what time scale? 1 yr, 5yrs 10? 20? This kind of rubbish reminds me of the “explanations” that some Evolution fanatics give for some observation. First thing I do is reverse the proposition and see if I can plausibly argue the contrary. A “big victory” (which I’ll assume means both high turn-out and at least a 10 point (being generous, 15 would be a lot more clear, but pick your number) difference between winners and losers) will make Brussels even more punitive. Yeah, that flies, I think. And about Scotland?

17 Jon M April 18, 2017 at 2:18 pm

None of these terms are hard to define and I think there is a pretty plain meaning to the words in the context of the piece:
“more likely”
higher probability than if the election had not been called
greater access to EU markets and smaller change from the status quo in Britain’s relationship with the EU
more seats than currently. It is a continuous term that applies more the more seats the Conservatives end up winning.

18 Gary Lucas April 18, 2017 at 2:08 pm

As a West Virginia native, I wonder whether Tyler’s focus on per capita income for the entire state is misleading. The website below reports median incomes by county. I haven’t verified the accuracy of the reported numbers, but assuming they’re correct, they confirm what I suspected. There are geographic pockets of the state (e.g., the southern coal fields and central region, which is very rural) that are very poor. Look at McDowell, Logan, Lincoln, Mingo, Wyoming. These are the southern coal fields and the region that, to my knowledge, has been devastated by drug addiction. McDowell county has a median income of $22,252. I visit some of these places when I return to the state each year, and my eyes confirm the numbers. There is rampant poverty here. Now look at Jefferson and Berkeley counties in the northern panhandle, which to some extent have become bedroom communities for D.C. Jefferson county has a median income north of $65,000. There is a huge geographic barrier (the Appalachian mountains) separating these regions, and they are very different. Just visit them, and you’ll see.


19 Gary Lucas April 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

I accidentally posted this in the wrong thread. Moderators feel free to remove.

20 Believe it! April 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm

“As a West Virginia native” it was all explained by that one line

21 ckb April 18, 2017 at 2:39 pm

If there is a Euro, there won’t be a “remarriage” without it. And the only place UK Eurozone membership is a possibility is on that dreadful reboot of “Yes, Prime Minister.”

There is no prospect; some bells cannot be un-rung.

22 Dearieme April 18, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Really? My wife and I quite like the reboot of “Yes, Prime Minister”. We liked the original too, it did have some good writing but I think the new one really pulls it together better with some good actors this time around. The somewhat amaturish performances in the original held it back in my opinion.

23 dearieme April 18, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Oh, bogus “Dearieme” is back.

24 The Cuckmeister-General April 18, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Yep, the REAL “dearieme” is a much bigger cuck!

25 Rich Berger April 18, 2017 at 6:53 pm

It’s pretty easy to tell the imposter.

26 Alan Gunn April 18, 2017 at 2:42 pm

The first time around, the Scottish nationalist plan for the economy was to have an independent Scotland use its North Sea oil revenues to finance an expansion of the welfare state. That didn’t make much sense even when oil was $100 a barrel. Nowadays, it would be ridiculous. And would England offer them even more than it did last time to stay in the UK? Why would the English want to keep them?

27 Alex from FG April 19, 2017 at 4:25 am

In liberal-democratic nations no one gets as much free-rides as incorporated nations. Take the German-speaking Tyroleans of northern Italy for example. They get special treatments in the national parliamentary system and special funding that other Italian regions don’t get. The Basques and Catalans of Spain as well. So the Scottish situation sounds very familiar.

The English don’t want to live in a “Small Britain” so they pay what ever price is needed to keep those forces in Scotland in good humor, which could decide about “ScRemain”.

28 james April 18, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Well the hard Bexiteers are crowing like cocks. Hard Brexit now looking more likely than soft.

PM May unites the tories (for once) and negotiates from a position of strength. (Forget Scotland and their delusions.)
Against a house divided. France protectionist, Germany selling cars, Hungary don’t care, Spain distracted by irrelevant stuff like Gibraltar.
If May & Co can’t win these negotiations we may as well become Norwegian.

29 prior_test2 April 19, 2017 at 2:35 am

‘we may as well become Norwegian’

Too late, unlike the Norwegians, the UK squandered its oil wealth.

30 Donald Pretari April 18, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Since I’ve viewed Brexit as part of the EU economic crisis, it’s more like a show about a fin-de-siecle where you never reach the fin. Ever. Although I won’t be around unless Peter Thiel preserves me, I’m hoping this show doesn’t reach the next fin-de-siecle.

31 Art Deco April 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm

I see there has been no mention from our hosts of the glorious awakening of the Lion of Constantinople! Erdogan is succeeding in restoring the honor and pride of the Followers of Osman. Vienna is Turkey! Damascus is Turkey! Belgrade is Turkey! Yet Dr. Cowen wishes to ignore all of this and try to brush history under a cheap rug, as one would find in the less reputable tourist shops of the Grand Bazaar.

32 Alistair April 18, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Who lost Turkey?

So much for liberalism and modernity and Islam co-existing.

33 msgkings April 19, 2017 at 10:25 am

I’m going to ask Alex Tabarrok for an increase in my rate-per-word. I figure I should be compensated better than Nathan.

34 Thiago Ribeiro April 18, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Labour’s historical mission is over. Perfidious Albion will be Tory for the next thousand years.

35 Art Deco April 18, 2017 at 3:58 pm

It will not be Tory, it will be TURK!

36 Thiago Ribeiro April 18, 2017 at 4:11 pm

The Turks are a barbarous people, and need caretaking by their betters from Brazil. As the Prophet Bandarra wrote, “Man those Turks are lame”

37 Art Deco April 18, 2017 at 4:17 pm

It is unfortunate that you appear to be working for the traitor Gulan and attempting to undermine the destiny of the Followers of Osman, as we once again take our place at the head of Europe. It appears as though our host is also a secret Gulanist since he has failed to even mention the Triumph of the Turks in ushering in a new era of solidarity, unity, and empire under the Leadership of the wise Erdogan successor to Sulimann himself.

38 Thiago Ribeiro April 18, 2017 at 4:26 pm

I don’t know who those people are, all I know is that Brazil is fated to lead the nations of the wprld to peace, Brazil will rise like a lion and crush the serpent with its heel!

39 msgkings April 19, 2017 at 10:27 am

They should just send the checks to the faux Brazilian in Ohio.

40 msgkings April 19, 2017 at 10:26 am

They don’t pay me enough to do a good job with this.

41 Cooper April 18, 2017 at 4:25 pm

When Labour represented blue collar manufacturing workers, representing workers’ interests meant helping to divide the spoils of successful companies with the people who work at those companies. The corporate managers voted Tory, the factory workers voted Labour.

Now that Labour represents government employees, representing workers’ interests means taking taxes from London professionals and giving them out to northern cities. Many of those London professionals vote Labour (or at least “New Labour”). There’s a limit to how much you can tax one part of your base to buy off the other part of your base.

That’s partly why Corbyn is so unpopular. He fractures his own base by promising a level of socialism that is too extreme for your typical upper middle class educated professional who might otherwise be persuaded to vote for a socially liberal, globalist party.

42 Borjigid April 18, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Is that last bit accurate? My impression is that Corbyn has maintained his support among upper middle class educated professionals while hemorrhaging support among the working class.

Granted, that impression is based on media anecdotes, not polling data.

43 Alistair April 18, 2017 at 9:40 pm

There’s good support in polling dating for that.

Labour’s main constituencies are now:
1) Urban upper-middle class liberals “Islington Liberals” (small, but well-concentrated)
2) Unionised public sector workers (largest constituency, but spread out)
3) The following religious and ethnic minorities: Blacks, and south asian Muslims (but not south asian Hindu’s or Sikhs or East Asians) The Jewish vote was traditionally labour’s but is becoming very flaky given the party’s obvious anti-Semitism with the rising importance of the Muslim vote.

44 Alistair April 18, 2017 at 9:45 pm

To be specific, labour support amongst CDE class is now 20%


To put that in context, it has been declining for 50 years from 1960’s highs of nearly 70%. Labour has abandoned the working class a long time ago.

45 M April 19, 2017 at 2:03 am

It’s a bit odd to be saying “Labour represent government employees. But urban professionals also vote for them”. You would presume they actually also represent urban professionals.

46 Yancey Ward April 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Brexit likely has nothing at all to do with calling an early election, but some will claim it does. Far more likely is that May sees how weak and dispirited the opposition is and is simply trying to capitalize on it.

Of course, if the Tories come out of the election weaker than going in, Brexit may be doomed. I have never believed even a majority of the Tories in Parliament want Brexit in any form, so I don’t see a big victory changing anything- I still doubt Brexit ever happens.

47 prior_test2 April 19, 2017 at 2:38 am

‘Brexit may be doomed’

No, Brexit will happen, and everyone is likely to be happier for it. Though maybe not Little England, on second thought.

48 spkaca April 19, 2017 at 8:39 am

“Brexit likely has nothing at all to do with calling an early election, but some will claim it does. Far more likely is that May sees how weak and dispirited the opposition is and is simply trying to capitalize on it.”

“Of course, if the Tories come out of the election weaker than going in…”

“…Brexit may be doomed.”
If the Tories can’t improve their position with the opposition they have, they might deserve everything they get.

“I have never believed even a majority of the Tories in Parliament want Brexit in any form, so I don’t see a big victory changing anything- I still doubt Brexit ever happens.”
Tory MPs are the arch-pragmatists of the Western world. Most opposed Brexit when it looked like Remain would win, because Cameron made it clear that supporting Leave was career-limiting so long as he was PM. The Leavers were therefore the true believers, the Remainers were (mostly) more like 18th-century Anglicans going with the flow. The referendum vote has been an opportunity for the party to end the party split over the EU which has been continuous ever since 1990 or thereabouts. Unless they have a collective death wish (they don’t), the Tories will not say: ‘hey, remember all those years when we spent half our energy infighting? Let’s do that again, only worse!’

49 Art Deco April 19, 2017 at 10:29 am

I still doubt Brexit ever happens.

Wish-fulfillment is strong with this one.

50 Sam Taylor April 18, 2017 at 6:00 pm

May has always been a deeply cynical politician, who’s happy to put party politics before country or good policy. There’s plenty of evidence for this from her time in the home office. This is, after all, the woman who gave us the utterly moronic psychoactive substances bill, which is more a piece of political advertising to the daily mail brigade than a sensibly designed piece of legislation designed to deal with recent innovations in recreational drugs.

I’m simply not prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt any more.

51 Art Deco April 19, 2017 at 10:30 am

She doesn’t need you.

52 Ricky Tylor April 18, 2017 at 9:04 pm

To be very honest, it is not sensible to speculate things when it comes to big event like Elections, it is better to go with things we are certain about. At least, I will go that way. I operate with OctaFX and with them; I always work nicely because of the long tally of benefits. I love it with their deposit bonus, it’s brilliant and up to 50% which is use able too, I feel relaxed and also able to perform ever so nicely in every situation that is.

53 The Lunatic April 18, 2017 at 9:48 pm

And, um, what would be the mechanism of this “mandate” for a referendum? Suddenly May has a vision on the road to Dalmally, with William Wallace saying, “Theresa, Theresa, why are you persecuting me?”

Seriously, you’d think all the people who were talking about how May would be “forced” to allow a referendum would have been properly chastened by what just happened to Holyrood’s petition for one.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: