Predicting Election Results: A Mug’s Game

No one can predict the future, so let’s put the notion that people can predict future events to bed straight away . Since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, I’ve had many people tell me that Labour will lose the [next] election badly and be consigned to electoral oblivion for a generation. I even had some Kipper tell me that Geert Wilders would become Dutch PM and Marine Le Pen would win the French Presidential Election. He added that he’d “been right in the past” because he “studied the polls”. Of course, neither Wilders nor Le Pen won their respective elections and as I told this Kipper, “If you’re so certain, then perhaps you can give me this week’s winning lottery numbers”. He declined. If I had the gift of second sight, I certainly wouldn’t be boring the pants off of people on comments threads with my tenuous claims of precognition. I’d be lounging about on my own Caribbean island and donating money to left-wing political parties.

When it comes to Labour’s chances of securing victory in next week’s General Election, the pundits have mostly been of one mind: it’s curtains for Labour. The Tories will win a landslide and that’s that.  Even the Tories themselves have said, in not so many words, that they’re on course to achieve a manifold increase in their tiny majority.  In City AM last September, QMU’s Professor Tim Bale offered us a slice of expert sagaciousness,

Unless everything we think we know about politics turns out to be wrong, the Tories are going to win the next election. They are way ahead of Labour on both economic competence and best Prime Minister. Just how big that win will be partly depends on when they go to the country. If Theresa May does what any normal politician would do in her position, she will engineer a contest in the spring or early summer of next year – before the compromises she’s going to have to make with Brussels become overly obvious, before the economy begins palpably to slow down, before the continuing squeeze on the NHS makes waiting lists and times even longer – and before Labour can dump Jeremy Corbyn. And even if she waits until 2020, she’ll still win. But if she goes sooner, she stands a chance of achieving the sort of majority that the Conservatives have only been able to dream about for 30 years. Carpe diem!

Bale obviously didn’t count on May’s less-than-engaging personality and her party’s weird mix of spite, control freakery and incompetence. Not to mention the cowardliness of May herself. Carpe Diem, indeed.

The supposedly Labour-supporting Daily Mirror claimed that Labour was “certain to lose the 2020 General Election. Their story was based on a Fabian Society report, which claimed the party will only hang on to around “140 seats”.

Last April, the Independent’s John Rentoul indulged himself in an extraordinary masturbatory fantasy in which Bozza is now PM and Heidi Alexander is now Labour leader (I know, I know),

Heidi Alexander, had fought the hopeless fight. Indeed, since she had defeated Jeremy Corbyn six months ago, in the fourth Labour leadership election in four years, she had showed great skill in neither fully renouncing nor standing by her predecessor’s programme.

Jesus, that’s terrible.

Even G*d-bothering Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, keeps telling us that the Tories will win a landslide. Dim Tim told The Guardian “The worst governments are the ones with the weakest oppositions. The Liberal Democrats are in a very strong position now to fill that space.” Are those are the same Liberal Democrats that slipped between the sheets with the Tories in 2010 and helped to implement some of the most savage cuts to public services for a generation? I’ll take no lessons from you, Tim. Thanks, but no thanks.

If the general election result is such an outright certainty, then why bother having an election in the first place? Why not just have a lavish coronation ceremony for Theresa May instead? I mean, what is the point in this supposedly pointless democratic exercise if the Tories are certain to win a landslide? Let’s just get the coup out of the way and then we can move on – if that’s what you Tories and media pundits want, of course. Because let’s face it, when the Tories and the Lib Dems talk about the need for a ‘strong opposition’ what they really mean by ‘strong’ is antonymous; it’s the authoritarian’s definition of a strong opposition. The last thing the Tories want is a Labour party that stands up to them, hence their resort to personalizations and smears. Does that sound like a party that’s confident of its impending electoral success?

So here’s an appeal to the media pundits and self-imagined political soothsayers, please don’t give up the day jobs. You don’t have magic powers that allow you to predict the future. You’re hacks, who just happen to be a little too close to political power to be truly objective.  Your special insight, such as it is, is limited to the tiny world you inhabit. You speak for no one but yourselves and your masters. If you want to predict the future, get yourselves a seaside stall, a pack of tarot cards, a crystal ball and a black obsidian mirror.  No one’s stopping you.

Nothing in life or politics is certain. But one thing is true: the Tories have run a terrible campaign and Labour has performed better than the media expected. On that basis, it seems reasonable to suggest that the Tories won’t do as well as the pundits have predicted.

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2 Comments

Filed under General Election 2017

2 responses to “Predicting Election Results: A Mug’s Game

  1. Well the pollsters seem to have got it wrong lately and they purport to be experts, unless of course they were trying to lead opinion not report on it.

  2. Wazoo

    Labour win. People are waking up. Tory party to collapse under the weight of it’s own lies.

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