As we start the general election campaign the overall polling position is a strong lead for the Conservative party. Most polls are showing extremely strong leads up in the high teens, a few breaking twenty.
As the polls currently stand (and, obviously, there are seven weeks to go) a Conservative majority looks very, very likely. But a word of warning in 1983 and 1997 the polls largely overstated the victorious party’s lead. And during campaigns the polls tend to narrow.
The first Welsh polls are due to be published next week.
Another factor that is unusual is that there will be local elections held in the middle of the general election campaign in recent times they’ve tended to be held on the same day as the general election. The last time this happened was in 1983 and 1987.
But the results were not good predictors for what happened a month later. In 1983’s local government election the Conservatives were 3 points ahead a month later in the general election they were 14 points ahead. Similarly in 1987 the Conservatives were 6 points ahead and a month later they were ahead by 11 points.
Moral, don’t get excited or depressed on the local council results they will mean very little on 8 June. Although they might get some party workers to renew their efforts in the big one.
Labour vulnerable in North East Wales
So which are the Welsh seats to watch on election night? With the Conservatives riding high in the polls there are six seats that they will be concentrating their efforts 4 in North East Wales namely, Alan and Deeside; Wrexham; Clwyd South and Delyn. All could be captured if the Conservatives are 10 points ahead on the day.
South Wales predictions
In South Wales Bridgend would fall if the Tory lead was 5 points as would Newport West if the lead was 10 points.
If the 20-point lead in the polls were translated to votes on the day then the 3 Labour seats in Cardiff would fall. Cardiff South and Cardiff West to the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats would be in with a shout of winning back Cardiff Central.
The hopes of other parties
Another Labour seat that is very vulnerable is Ynys Mon. Plaid Cymru would have high hopes of capturing it Labour’s Albert Owen has only a majority of 229 which makes him vulnerable. That said the last time the islanders got rid of a sitting MP was in 1951 when Megan Lloyd George lost to Cledwyn Hughes.
What if there is a change of fortune
But should the campaign itself change Labour’s fortunes, they would be chasing the Tories in Gower, which the Conservatives hold on a meager 27; Vale of Clwyd where their majority is 237. And if that miracle happened and Labour started to lead by 5 points then Cardiff North would be back in the frame.
There is an outside chance that if the Liberal Democrats see a surge in their support they might win back Brecon & Radnor and Montgomery. They would need leads of double figures but with the Conservatives riding high in the country at the moment it is unlikely.
Plaid Cymru live in hope of gaining back Ceredigion but having failed last time when the Liberal Democrats were at their lowest ebb the political tide would have to be much more favourable for them to succeed.
A golden rule for all elections, be prepared for the voters to produce a shock result somewhere on the night. That’s what makes election night such fun when we see our politicians squirm when the electors have given them a kick in the nether regions.
It was at least five times the Prime Minister Teresa May ruled out a general election before 2020. But yesterday she did the most spectacular of u-turns and declared it was now a necessity. So now that the Labour party has acquiesced to the request despite having the power to block the move the country faces an unnecessary general election on 8 June.
“The Country’s coming together but Westminster is not.” So did parliament refuse her article 50? No not a bit it went through both houses with relative ease.
And in any case what’s the point of a parliament in a democracy if all are expected to agree. It sounds as if no opposition is to be tolerated more like the North Korean system of government than that of a so-called mature democracy.
She name checked three opposition political parties – Labour, the Lib Dems, and the SNP – for their own, criticisms of her vision for Brexit. And just for good measure the House of Lords. All their offence to dare question the divine leaders plans for Brexit. And, for good measure, she included the unelected House of Lords, who have also dared scrutinize her Brexit plan.
So why go to the country now. Well partly because of party advantage. With Labour languishing 20 points behind in the polls she sees an open goal. But let her not pretend that it was done out of principle, it was naked political opportunism.
She is riding high and it won’t last long. She knows that the real impact of Brexit is yet to come and there are real difficulties coming down this particular road.
A popularity contest between the parties must happen now – not in six months, when the forces of Brexit will batter the whole of Westminster.
What are we to make of it all? Well if the vote to leave the European Union was in large part a product of the widespread disillusionment with the Westminster political elite. How does this move help? This is just the latest but very blatant example of the political elite saying one thing yet meaning another? This clear example of Teresa May putting party and power above national concerns will only increase that disillusionment.
Inflation is now at a 3 year high at 2.3%. Despite the Bank of England target of 2% it is almost certain to go even higher in the next few months.
Now in the past the reaction of the Bank of England (BoE) would be to respond by increasing interest rates to dampen down the inflationary pressure. But interest rates have not yet gone up.
If this was a temporary rise before it settles down to the target of 2% then the BoE will resist putting up the rate of borrowing. But there are no signs that this is a temporary phenomenon – the lower pound is causing retailers to put up their prices, food prices are up, energy companies are putting up their prices. As the old song goes ” the only way is up.”
No this far from being temporary, inflation is back and here to stay. The only question is how high will it go up. Some economists predict 3% others say it will be higher.
But it’s not like the 1970s. Because of weak trade unions despite higher prices, wages are still stagnant. Combine the two and it gives a deflationary economy. So no pressure on rising interest rates. These factors will bring interest rates down to the BoE target without the bank having to use the usual anti-inflationary medicine.
But all this could change if sterling went further down. This would instantly increase the cost of imports and cause inflation to rise. This would force the Bank to take action to stop the financial markets selling sterling.
In such a scenario rising inflation would squeeze living standards but the Bank would have to then intervene by raising borrowing rates and could tip the economy into a recession.
The country would need this like a hole in the head at a time when there is so much uncertainty because of Brexit. Ironically, those that will suffer most are those very deprived communities that voted for leaving Europe. The weaker pound is a consequence of the move to leave. Another example of ‘be careful of what you wish for.’