Backbench editors' general election predictions

7 Jun 2017


With just hours left until the polls open and the 2017 general election campaign comes to an end no one is quite sure what to expect when results are revealed tomorrow and on Friday morning. Polls have varied from a Conservative landslide to a hung Parliament so with this in mind our Backbench editors have decided, at the risk of being proved wildly wrong in a matter of hours, to share their own predictions of what the outcome of this election will be. Follow Backbench and Westminster HUB on Twitter for election updates and to find out just how wrong the following predictions were.


Oliver Lincoln


The next government will be: Conservative


Majority: 60-70 seats


Prediction: The polling in the last couple of weeks would have scared the Tory campaign machine but I think they will still run out fairly comfortable winners although not as convincing as had been hoped at the outset of the campaign. Labour will lose seats but perform marginally better than many expected which will be used by Jeremy Corbyn, perhaps fairly, as justification for him staying on as leader. The Lib Dems will make small seat gains, taking them in to double figures again while Greens and UKIP stay largely where they were in terms of seats and share of the vote.  


Surprise of the night: Sticking my neck out on this but I think UKIP’s vote share will not fall as much as predicted.  Although UKIP will not have any MPs and vote share will fall overall, I think following the recent terror attacks fewer people will turn their back on UKIP and may still end on 6 or 7%.


What happens next: Theresa May continues on the path towards a hard Brexit and within a few months the Brexit bill will be revealed although she will face more challenges from within her own party. Meanwhile Labour heads in to yet another leadership contest as Jeremy Corbyn refuses to stand down and faces a challenge from, most likely candidate, Yvette Cooper.  



Calum Henderson


The next government will be: Conservative


Majority: Substantial 


Prediction: This election has been unusual in that the campaigning period seems to have changed some people’s minds. Often the polls stubbornly refuse to shift in the final weeks, but the advantage the Prime Minister enjoyed when she called the vote has vanished like an ice cream in the sun. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has managed to reverse his party’s previously dismal ratings. That said, I am extremely doubtful that the Tories have much reason to fear, and that they will be returned on Friday with a substantial majority, although perhaps not the super landslide Theresa May wanted.


Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats will struggle greatly to win anything while the SNP will emerge with their enormous, election-winning behemoth only slightly dented. And I am personally looking forward to seeing Paul Nuttall’s face as he becomes the latest UKIP leader to fail to enter the Mother of Parliaments.


What happens next: Corbyn may be grateful that this election has been called as although Labour will probably lose seats on Thursday, he has had a good campaign and can reasonably claim that he should ‘hang on’ and ‘finish the job’ instead of standing down. ‘Finish the job’ may have a more unappetising meaning for his Labour opponents, who will continue to demand he goes. Theresa May's election gamble could have harmed her, however, in that it is now clear to many, including backbench Tories, that she is not as strong a leader as she likes to pretend.



Paddy Baker


The next government will be: Conservative


Majority: May’s lack of pizzazz has cost the Conservative Party the parliamentary landslide that they, and most of the country, had hoped or dreaded.


Prediction: When the Prime Minister announced the election way back in mid-April, it seemed that the next six weeks were going to be a political drubbing for Corbyn and Labour’s politburo. As it turned out, Theresa May has the personal magnetism equivalent to an orange-pine plank. Her seriousness and constancy, once considered signs of her stoic and perseverant work ethic, was in fact her inflexibility and inability to improvise. An embarrassing U-turn on a manifesto pledge to reform social raised many eyebrows; at the first sign of public pressure, May had fled: was this the right person to lead the country through Brexit negotiations?


That said, nothing short of a miracle could get Corbyn through the doors of No. 10 for two reasons.


First, though many Labour voters are often quite vocal - some might say boorish - in their support for Corbyn, many Conservative voters or sympathisers don’t publicise their allegiance. It’s the classic case of the ‘silent majority’ at play. Second, it is the elderly who far more likely to both vote and vote Conservative, whereas the Labour party, who’s support base is often amongst the young have a serious issue of ensuring that all their supporters actually go and vote.


Surprise of the night: Whilst it has been encouraging to see young electoral registration rise over the last six weeks, it would be a great surprise if proportionally, the young had a higher turn-out than the old. As such, I anticipate another five years of Conservative government.



Dominic Chave-Cox (former editor)


The next government will be: Too close to call.


Majority: Anything is possible from a Labour minority government to a Conservative majority.


Prediction: Predict the outcome of a public vote? I wasn’t born yesterday. After what happened in the last election, followed swiftly by the Corbynite capture of the Labour Party, Brexit and then Trumpmageddon, I think the healthiest attitude to take towards any exercise in democracy right now is to not second-guess the likely decision of voters. After all, at the risk of sounding a bit simple, people haven’t voted until they’ve actually voted.


Nevertheless, even on all the aforementioned occasions, the polls were only so far out, so it does make sense to at least take a cursory glance at them. Without lingering too long of course. They show that Labour have halved their average deficit to the Tories from around 20 points to just under 10 since the campaign started (and I didn’t expect that to happen either). The most likely reason for this is surely Theresa May running one of the worst election campaigns that even the likes of snowy-haired Dimbleveterans can remember. “Complacent” doesn’t begin to describe the way May and her advisers approached this election.


Surprise of the night: With the polls where they are currently, if we’re going to take them with several giant’s pinches of salt, then (as I wrote the other day) we can’t even rule out the possibility that Corbyn wins – or at least forms a minority government in a hung parliament.


What happens next: One thing I would confidently predict is that if Labour now achieves anything better than a total capitulation on Thursday, Jeremy Corbyn will say it vindicates his leadership. And that’s going to make it much less likely that Labour members will turn on him after the election if he loses. Either way, keep a very close eye on the actions of Labour MPs when parliament reconvenes. There could be fireworks.



Beth Fisher


The next government will be: Conservative


Majority: About the same.


Prediction: As we have seen from the events of last year, election results are difficult to predict. Although Corbyn has made substantial gains in the polls over the last few weeks, with the points gap now nearly closed, we must remember that polls tend to use very small sample sizes and can vary considerably.


May’s campaign has been littered with fumbles and no-shows. She is far from a charismatic leader. However, she is still largely preferred over Corbyn because of people’s fears over national defence and the economy. Indeed, far from weakening her position, I think the recent terror attacks have only served to push unsure voters further towards May.


Glancing at social media, it can appear that Corbyn is in for a landslide, attracting large audiences at his mass rallies and gatherings, particularly when compared to May’s pathetically low number of campaign spectators. However, it should be remembered, as the Labour veteran John Golding put it,: ‘for every thousand people who were cheering at the rally, there were 122,000 outside saying you’re crackers’.


This will be an interesting election for the smaller parties. The Green Party will hold onto their one seat, but make no gains. UKIP will be left with no seats, with many of their supporters switching to Conservatives now that Farage is no longer UKIP's leader. The Liberal Democrats are the only ones to occupy the centre-ground in this election, and it is likely they will gain a small handful of seats.


Surprise of the night: It is possible there will be a remarkably high turnout amongst 18-24 year-olds, seeing as there has been a real push this year to get young people registered.



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