Back in 2015 I made some predictions which turned out to be completely off the mark when it came to the general election results. This year I am going to stick my neck out again, but in general terms rather than targeting specific numbers.
Conservatives: Double-figure majority but not a landslide. Will make gains in Scotland from people who want to stop the SNP, and this will mainly be down to the energetic campaigning of Ruth Davidson. Although there may be a strong anti-Tory vote in some areas, First Past the Post will see Theresa May continue as Prime Minister.
Labour: Squeezed in Scotland by the SNP on the left/pro-independence and the Conservatives on the right/pro-union. Overall they will pick up anti-Tory votes but I think this will be in areas where they are already strong, which unfortunately is a waste in our First Past the Post system. I think Corbyn will fare better than Miliband (it will be catastrophic for Labour if he doesn’t), but he will be forced out at some point in 2017/18.
Liberal Democrats: In theory the only way is up, and they have the Unique Selling Point of being the main UK-wide opposition to Brexit. However, I think the Lib Dems have two major problems which will limit their gains to a handful of seats. First of all, as some of my friends in the party have pointed out, they have not had time to properly train and mobilise the new members who joined (or in some cases rejoined) after the Brexit referendum and the Article 50 notification. Secondly, in England at least, this election is looking more and more like a fight between Labour and the Conservatives. People who want to keep the Tories out are, in many areas, better off voting Labour. I am also not convinced that the Lib Dems have fully washed away the taint of having gone into coalition with the Conservatives, which only ended two years ago. In my constituency the Lib Dem candidate has gone as far as telling supporters to vote Labour, though he only picked up around 900 votes last time as he can’t even be bothered to live in the North West.
SNP: Realistically, given their current dominant position, they are going to lose some seats to lower turnout and voters getting fed up with the governing party (even though that is a separate Parliament).1
UKIP: Collapse in the vote as Brexit is now secure under either the Conservatives (if you want Hard Brexit) or Labour (Soft Brexit) so there is no point in supporting UKIP. The party is also not standing candidates against ‘good Brexiteers’ so will cut off some of its own support in that way. The main interesting question is where the UKIP vote will go – to the Conservatives (most likely), Labour (probably not) or not turn out at all (maybe). Furthermore, whilst I know that many readers will consider Nigel Farage to be an odious character, he was good at garnering media attention and presenting the party in a positive light (if you didn’t look too closely). Paul Nuttall is far less effective and is coming across in an extreme and offensive manner which I think will put off a lot of voters.
Greens: Like the Lib Dems they will suffer from tactical anti-Tory voting in favour of Labour, and they have already decided not to stand candidates in some areas in order to assist this. Talk of a ‘progressive alliance’ will come to nothing, and even if it does a solitary Green MP is not going to be a key player.
Overall, rather glum reading for all parties other than the Conservatives – and even there I expect a poor share of the vote. All this could be overturned of course if young people go out to vote, but past experience has shown that they do not and I don’t see any reason why this election will be different.