Anindya Bhattacharyya feels optimistic going into election day
I’ll vote Labour today for the first time in a general election since 1997, and the first time ever without any significant misgivings.
Of course the polls don’t look great: the latest predict Tory leads of 12 to 4 points, and usually they overestimate Labour’s performance. We all remember 2015 – heck, some of us remember 1992 – so understandably a lot of people are consciously downplaying their expectations.
But I’m still cautiously optimistic. These same polls had Labour dead in the water a month ago. The turnaround has been quite spectacular. Something is clearly afoot. Corbyn has played a blinder of a campaign, and May’s authority is in tatters. The momentum is with Labour.
Danny Dorling put forward an intriguing hypothesis yesterday: that opinion polls lag behind actual election results by four weeks. His argument is that polls actually measure how people would have voted a month ago. In which case they’d now be skewed against Labour.
There are other intangibles at play too. Will the rise in young people registering to vote translate into a higher turnout among them? To what extent is Corbyn’s support concentrated in cities? Can he impact on marginals and not just consolidate Labour’s vote in safe seats?
On both questions the conventional wisdom says no. But these aren’t conventional times. Pundits have got much egg on their faces of late.
So there’s a decent chance that something structural and unprecedented is going on, and we might be pleasantly surprised tomorrow night. I’ve stuck £10 at 6-1 on Labour getting the most seats and £20 at 9-2 on a hung parliament. I think those were goods odds and worth a punt.
But whatever happens the Corbyn campaign has transformed the political terrain. He’s demonstrated that an alternative politics is viable. His social populism is new and still in formation. But it’s already proved a game changer. Remember the Tories thought they’d walk this.
So I’m a good deal more excited than I was when this campaign started. A whole series of new possibilities have opened up. Even if they win the troubles for the Tories are gonna mount up. They’re riven with splits at the top and gearing up for a knife fight.
And the deep drivers behind the Corbyn surge are only going to intensify. So let’s do this. The future is back.