Brexit general election: Why Labour and Tories have reason to fear voters’ verdict – Ayesha Hazarika

Labour has good reason to be nervous about a general election, but some Conservatives admit they are worried about losing seats in Scotland and London, writes Ayesha Hazarika.
Boris Johnson has said he wants there to be a general election on 12 December (Picture: Aaron Chown/AFP via Getty Images)Boris Johnson has said he wants there to be a general election on 12 December (Picture: Aaron Chown/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson has said he wants there to be a general election on 12 December (Picture: Aaron Chown/AFP via Getty Images)

I’m fed up. And I don’t care what Brenda says. This political pressure cooker needs to release some steam and reluctantly, I do think it’s time for that general election. And don’t give me that nonsense about Christmas. We’re all happy to queue for the Next Boxing Day sale.

Both Corbyn and Johnson are giving it the big one about how they’re match fit and ready for action but the reality is that both know that things could go wrong for them and their foot soldiers feel highly anxious.

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Let’s start with the Tories. On the face of it, they should feel confident with a healthy, consistent poll lead but this happened ahead of the 2017 election where they lost their majority. They know their messages about getting “Brexit done” despite being a false trade description are having some traction with voters who are leavers but they also have to hold and indeed win some remain voters who are and could be moderate Tories. Good luck with that.

Labour leader Jeremy CorbynLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
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A former Minister told me that despite the macho external posturing, there is internal anxiety about losing pretty much every seat in Scotland and London. Much is made of the Tories cleaning up in Labour leave constituencies in the North and Midlands but hold on... what about the Brexit Party who have been keeping a low profile but are hardly going to go gently in to the good night after their huge gains in the Euro elections earlier this year?

The Farage effect

Whether you hate him or really hate him, you can’t deny that Farage will be a powerful voice when the moment comes and leave voters all over the country are likely to take their lead from him as to whether the Prime Minister has delivered Brexit properly or Brexit in name only or even delivered anything at all, in which case it’s squeaky bum time for the Tories.

The other thing a lot of Tories don’t realise is that while many Labour Leave voters may have fallen out of love with their party, the thought of putting their cross next to a Tory would make them feel heretic given their, and their family and communities’, past political allegiances.

But… voting for the Brexit party may not for they seem all shiny and new and speak to a lot of their political and cultural concerns. Also do not forget how divisive Johnson is (will he dare go to Liverpool?) and his tendency to make dangerous, capricious decisions under pressure which alienate people and backfire.

Then there is Labour as ever divided. Corbyn is game on as he loves an election especially if it involves “a train to Orkney” as one of advisers proclaimed. Ian Lavery the party chair has also been touring the studios booming “bring it on.”

Apparently Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping was played at Labour HQ just before he made a “motivational” speech geeing staffers up for an election. But if Labour gets knocked down, will it be able to get up again?

Socialism or true blue

Pretty much everyone else who is sentient in the movement is nervous. And with good reason. Labour is trailing in the polls and Corbyn’s personal ratings are the worst of any political leaders since records began.

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He has even lost support with young people who Labour are banking on. The party’s tortured triangulation on Brexit where it tries to please both remainers and leaver is just pissing both groups off. Many Labour MPs are so worried about their seats they may not vote for a general election even if there’s a three line whip.

But the Corbyn faithful insist that they can turn things around, build on the “success” of 2017 and finish the job off with victory on a strong message of anti-austerity and radical economic reform.

The truth is no one knows how the election will pan out. But one thing is clear. This is a choice between Corbyn and Johnson. True red socialism versus true blue old fashioned conservatism. It’s the battle many out in the country have wanted for a long time.

At least no one can say “they’re all the same” or “I can’t tell the difference between what they stand for.” These men define their parties in almost authoritarian terms when it comes to policy, ideology and culture. No one else.

And so whoever makes it to No 10, will have bragging rights and can say “it woz me what won it” to their critics within their parties. But by the same token, he who loses should shoulder the blame and fall on his sword immediately. That would be the honourable thing to do. But as we all know, honour is in scant supply right now.