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Wednesday 11 December 2019

General election 2019

Our election diary: Week 6

In the last of their election diaries, eight Tortoise members head to the polling booths

Over the past six weeks, our eight member diarists have shared their accounts of the election campaign from across the UK. They’ve told us their thoughts on the policies that peeve them, the policies that please them – and how they feel about everything from tactical voting to dirty tricks. As polling day looms, here are their predictions about what will happen next…

Janet in Edinburgh

Prediction: Large Tory majority

Hope: Labour minority government, to galvanise all the opposition parties. The SNP to press for Corbyn’s removal, Keir Starmer for PM, and the retreat into oblivion of Nigel Farage.

In conclusion: I can’t believe we’re here, and it doesn’t feel like a good place.

“The first time I voted in a General Election in 1979 I felt absolutely sure who and what I was voting for. Ever since, I have often voted tactically but felt confident in my choice. When I walk up to the Assembly Rooms in George Street, a grand city centre location, I’ll still be undecided. “None of the Above” would be the box I would tick.

Edinburgh North and Leith is a 3-way split – Labour, Conservative and SNP. For a Remainer like me, but one who doesn’t want independence, the choices are all unpalatable. Conservative, obviously not. Labour is so ambivalent about Europe, and Corbyn says he’s neutral but isn’t. The SNP is pro Europe but anti Union. If I vote SNP (can’t believe I’ve just written that) would they be effective in holding a Labour minority government to account? Could I risk signalling pro-independence, but then have the option to vote against independence in a second referendum?”

Lydia in Belfast

Prediction: DUP and Sinn Féin both lose MPs to SDLP and Alliance.

Hope: Tories somehow lose.

In conclusion: It’s been truly impressive how quickly Northern Ireland/Ireland became a non-issue. Maybe if we stop talking about Brexit, it will just go away.

“The only thing that’s changed for me is my increased anxiety over Northern Ireland’s future. I have not actively chosen the party I will vote for, simply the only option that I feel I have. I would like to feel that my vote feeds into the national picture but NI feels so far down the list. More than ever I want Sinn Fein to take their seats. I want Nigel Dodds (DUP) out of the North Belfast seat, John Finucane (SF) could do that. The DUP cause real harm to Northern Ireland, on a local and national level, and they have far too much power currently representing NI in Westminster. There needs to be other NI voices over there, especially now Sylvia Hermon has stepped down.”

Piyush in Manchester

Prediction: Small Tory majority

Hope: Labour largest party

In conclusion: The result will be taken as further evidence that Cummingsian bollocks-spreading works (or doesn’t work). My advice is to take your bollocks with a pinch of salt.

“‘50,000 more nurses’. Repeat it enough and it doesn’t matter anymore whether it’s true or not. Make an outrageous claim, and the more those pesky lefties/the liberal elite call out the bullshit, the more the message gets out there. This has become the dominant way that we understand the Cummingsian (can I say that?) strategy. It worked for ‘£350 million for the NHS’ in 2016. It worked for ‘strong and stable’ in 2017. Wait. No it didn’t. It spectacularly backfired. And we don’t really know that it worked for the £350 million either, do we? Our evidence to say that Cummingsian bollocks-spreading works is simply that Leave won the referendum. And that is extremely weak evidence.”

Paul in London

Prediction: Hung Parliament. Lab/Lib/SNP Revoke and Remain coalition. No Brexit, IndyRef2, plenty of expensive socialism, and an economic meltdown inside 12 months.

Hope: A workable Tory majority and the death of Corbynism. True progress on delivering Brexit, and a return to adult politics on the left.

In conclusion: The electorate is hopelessly divided by Brexit, loves “free” stuff, and has been indoctrinated by a left-wing education system – Blair’s most enduring legacy.

“Perhaps reflecting the mood of the nation as a whole (and the time of year), the campaign has stumbled exhausted into the darkness of the final week. Much energy has been exerted, very little substance has been delivered. On the face of it, polling looks relatively positive from a Conservative perspective. But there are hidden nasties in the data, like three- and four-way marginals and the unquantifiable Brexit Party effect. Combined with increasingly desperate Remainers putting morality/common sense aside and voting for Labour, a Conservative majority feels impossible.”

Joel in Bristol

Prediction: Boris remains as PM

Hope: A step away from the two-party system

In conclusion: The UK will leave the EU in some way, but in 2020 it will become clear that Tory claims about how easy it is to sort new trade deals (etc) were laughably unrealistic, and the UK will remain polarised over what Brexit has done to this country

“I’m beginning to realise I am very lucky. My MP (Labour) completely represents my perspective. She too is a proud believer in the EU. It is likely she will be returned but I suspect she will return to a parliament led by Boris with a mandate to ‘get Brexit done’. If so, it is a massive retrograde step for this country both economically and diplomatically. I’m reminded of US President Lyndon Johnson’s quote (of J Edgar Hoover) ‘It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in’. Chillingly, I predict the calibre of the cabinet dealing with all this will be the poorest ever.”

Mwenya in London

Prediction: Hung parliament and mad dash to form a government – anyone’s guess who will lead

Hope: Lib Dem largest party

In conclusion: Expect the unexpected and no clear mandate for a way forward

“The major party platforms in this election campaign have still fallen short on seismic issues such as climate change, the needs of an ageing population and the 21st century tech economy. That said, the platforms have been wider-ranging than I expected putting issues that really affect people such as education and mental health on the table. While the pollsters predict a comfortable Tory majority, the wildcard factors of social media campaigning, marmite party leaders and the seemingly intractable challenge over the Irish backstop, mean I predict the unpredictable. We haven’t had enough election campaigns like this to truly understand the impact of digital campaigning and the enlivened youth vote.”

Martha in London

Prediction: Small but comfortable Conservative majority

Hope: Labour form a coalition with pro-Remain parties

Conclusion: It’s been a divisive election where the public has been dangerously polarised. Whatever the result I hope it inspires party leaders to aim to make the United Kingdom more united.

“After a frustrating and at times shocking campaign, as an anti-austerity Remainer it’ll be a huge disappointment if we end up with a Conservative majority. I am still hoping that liberal votes will prevent that, if Greens and Lib Dems can win where Corbyn can’t quite convince the electorate. An ideal result would see Brexit put back to the people and more funding given where it is desperately needed. It’s been a shame to see a presidential style of politics taking over, where voters pledge their allegiance to a character regardless of their actions, and fail to scrutinise their policies or history. It would be a bonus if the rhetoric of division could be voted out by those who refuse to join in with the main parties’ prejudices.”

Mike, in the north east

Prediction: Conservative majority of 45

Hope: A Brexit party/parties majority and no hung Parliament

In conclusion: This is our final and only chance to get the whole Brexit issue sorted once and for all. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, we can’t keep living in limbo

“I have yet to meet someone who has been enthused and engaged with this election. The Conservative strategy has been clear: ‘We’re in the lead, play it safe.’ The Labour strategy has been a one-trick pony: bang on about the NHS (it’s where they feel most comfortable as a party). The Lib Dem’s strategy, to position themselves as the only Remain party, clearly hasn’t worked. And the SNP continued to whinge. All in all, it’s been very uninspiring.”