In 72 hours’ time, voting will be well underway in Britain’s election. We will be talking about turnout being ‘brisk’. Right now, the polls are indicating that a Tory majority is the most likely result. But it is not certain and a combination of three things could still stop it.
First, mass Remainer tactical voting. The margins in this election are fine and if Remainers starting backing whoever was most likely to defeat the Tories in their seat, that could put a Tory majority at risk very quickly. There will be lots of calls for tactical voting in the coming days. But it is worth remembering that in 1997, when there was widespread anti-Tory tactical voting, the Labour and Lib Dem leaderships were politically close and hadn’t spent the campaign attacking each other.
The second worry for the Tories is complacency. It isn’t just 2017 that makes the Tories wary of polls showing them comfortably ahead, it is a fear that the polls could influence the result. The Tory worry is that if voters don’t think Jeremy Corbyn is going to become PM, then key groups of them will think it is safe to vote for someone other than the Tories. For instance, disgruntled Tory Remainers may feel more inclined to give the party a kicking by voting Lib Dem if they think there is no chance of Corbyn gaining power. Equally, Labour Leave voters might be more likely to back their local Labour candidate, particularly if they are a good constituency MP, if they don’t think Brexit really is in danger.
The third worry for the Tories is just how many seats are going to be decided by under a thousand votes. In these circumstances, the results become very unpredictable and the danger for the Tories is that they end up on the wrong side of a series of very tight contests.
All three of these things could happen. But if, at the start of the campaign, the Tories had known this would be their position going into the final days they would have taken it.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.