With the general election campaign in the United Kingdom entering its final week, the polls for the outcome of the elections seem to be narrowing to a two party race between the Conservatives and Labour. Although, just a couple of weeks ago an argument could be made for a strong conservative majority with the backing of the Brexit Party, that same argument can no longer be confidently made. The uncertainty over Brexit combined with the age old argument of ‘a vote for a third party is the same as helping the conservatives/Labour’ has caused a narrowing of the polls to benefit both Labour and Conservatives.
The Liberal Democrat’s plan to scrap Brexit entirely, the Brexit Party’s plan to ensure a “clean-break Brexit” and the Scottish National Party’s plan to stop Brexit and hold another Scottish Referendum has seemed to divided the voting population into extremes. This combined with the feeling that neither of these three party’s will realistically hold any consequential power in the next parliament, has led to their poll numbers declining sharply.
Additionally these are National Polls and hence they do not reflect how each constituency will vote. This makes any prediction much harder. For example in the 2017 election, polls gave the Conservatives 43.91% and Labour 35.93% . However Conservatives ended up with 42% of the vote and Labour with 40%. This 2% difference in the National Vote Share led to a difference of about 55 seats. Similarly in the 2015 election, polls gave the Conservatives 37% of the vote and Labour 34% of the vote. In this election Conservatives did receive 37% of the vote but Labour only received 30% of the vote share. UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) was projected to receive 9% of the vote; It received 12.6% but this translated into only 1 seat in Parliament.
Further, the recent terror attack, caused by a convicted terrorist who was released early, in London is being politized by both Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson. Jeremy Corbyn implied that conservative cuts in funding led to the attack. Boris Johnson, more overtly politicising the issue stated,
“His release was necessary under the law because of the automatic early release scheme under which he was sentenced — that was the reality — and that was brought in by Labour with the support of Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of the Labour party.”
This attack and its response might swing voters in one way or the other, however with the election closing in, polls will not be able to capture this swing. The Conservatives are still poised to gain the largest number of seats in parliament. However, the divide of Brexit and the disapproval of both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn as leaders can make accurate predictions of the number of seats in parliament irrational.