Sunday, June 30, 2019

The UK's Wild Corbyn-Loss Labour-Win Scenario

A new poll-projection suggests the LibDems may well take the Islington North constituency off Labour.

Why is that worth mentioning?

Because Islington North would be Jeremy Corbyn's district.

It's hard to assess the reliability of this source, which apparently is a projection off of larger data, rather than a direct poll of the district. But it's far from beyond the realm of possibility. Islington, like much of the London environs, broke hard for the LibDems in May's European Parliamentary elections, as frustration with Labour's tepid response to Brexit (itself a function of Corbyn's barely disguised pro-Brexit preferences) boiled over. Indeed, the LibDems actually won Islington.

One would think that losing the party leader's historically-safe seat would only happen as part of a historic anti-Labour wave. This instinct would seemingly be buttressed by Corbyn's record-setting public unpopularity (which manages to plummet past Theresa May's own disastrously appalling favorability ratings).

But things are a bit wilder than that.

Like most of the U.S., UK parliamentary elections occur on a "first past the post" basis -- basically, whoever gets a plurality wins (even if they fail to get 50%). And if you look at recent polling of Westminster voting intentions, what one sees is an almost ludicrously tight four-way race between Labour, Conservatives, LibDems, and the Brexit Party, each of whom is hovering at a +/- 20% vote share. In such an environment, it's almost anyone's guess who will emerge on top. Labour (or any other party) could slip into office with barely 30% of the vote, even if it is reviled by most of the electorate even in the districts it wins.  And for Labour, in particular, it's probably best positioned to pull off this little trick in swingish districts outside London where its Brexit-ish stance isn't utterly toxic (i.e., the opposite of Islington). It's entirely possible that Labour could perform "well" nationwide (by which I mean, it manages to hold its core support group together against a LibDem challenge while Brexit and Tories rip each other to shreds) while still losing seats in London -- including Corbyn's.

Indeed, if the dominoes fall right this could even result in a bizarre "minority rout" election, especially if the Labour/LibDem fight yields a clear winner and the Tory/Brexit party fight doesn't (or vice versa). Then we can imagine one party scoring massive gains even as it is actually wildly unpopular with the very electorate it is "winning". While that's less likely, one can easily manage a series of bizarre outcomes that seem to lack any sort of rhyme or reason as huge numbers of seats are decided by whoever manages to eke out a plurality in a four-way contest.

Honestly, the sheer uncertainty of it all makes me kind of wish the UK would adopt proportional representation, if only out of a sense of self-preservation. The way things are set up now is not built for a four-party race -- it's massively volatile.

1 comment:

emjayay said...

A perfesser should know that the possessive form of "it" is not "it's".