So, we may have an election. We may know more later today.
Why do the Tories want it in December? Because, I think, Cummings is right for once. This is their best chance. By coincidence, that means Corbyn is right too. Swinson is indifferent, and I am with Angus MacNeil in thinking the SNP is calling this one wrong, excepting the fact that they want an election before the Alex Salmond trial.
Why is this the best time for the Tories? Because despite being dead in a ditch they can claim Brexit progress, even if that’s not true. Since 2017 they have got nowhere. But they can claim it.
And they will not have had to publish poor Budget data.
A flu epidemic exposing the weakness in the NHS will not have begun.
And in December 12 students will be at home and will have registered to vote at their universities. Tories love rigged polls.
Plus they think Christmas distractions will mean only the dedicated will vote, and that’s the old. And they vote Tory. There will be no nativity plays for them on 12 December.
Cynical? You bet.
Add to that Labour being in disarray. They do not have candidates. The leadership cannot get their candidates in – note Margaret Hodge’s reselection last night. And they do not have a campaign team in place. That’s a great place to start from.
But, let me be realistic. No one has the slightest idea what will happen. Polls are all over the place. Extrapolation of their findings to local situations is nigh on impossible. And the idea that the Tories are a great campaign team is simply absurd.
The fact is that elections are won on three things. One is fundamentals. One is chance. And the other gaffes.
The Tories think 12 December maximises their chances. I think that they have that one right.
On fundamentals they’re taking a risk. 31 October may revive the Brexit Party that has seen its support halve since May because its support believed Boris would deliver. It’s clear he hasn’t. That may rebound badly on the Tories.
Then there’s the fact that the divides in society are now not left / right but leave / remain and young / old. Unless you are in Scotland, Northern Ireland and maybe Wales, of course, when other issues add to the mix.
But let me stick my neck out: on fundamentals Johnson may have already blown his base – ‘dead in a ditch’ may come to haunt him. I accept though, that’s pure speculation.
And then there are gaffes. The Labour team made few in 2017. It’s still the same front team. That is not a guarantee, but it helps on the gaffometer scale.
The Tories have Johnson / Raab / Javid / Patel / Truss to name but a few more than capable of messing things up, in a very big way. And the ship steadiers are gone. Gaffe by design is more likely as a result. And they did well at that in 2017.
As for the LibDems, might Jo Swinson improve on Tim Farron’s lousy record? It would not be hard. But who knows?
I still think Johnson has got his call right. But even so what is his chance of the outright win only YouGov tell him is likely? I don’t see it. This is his election to lose. And he does not look like the winner he might have hoped to be in July. I think it’s hung parliament time again.
I also suspect that’s what he wants. Unlike the Britannia Unchained crowd he does not know why he wants power. A hung parliament might let him off the hook he made for himself in 2016 when he opted for Leave. To put it another way, the biggest risk is people might just rumble he has no conviction for his supposed strategy. And that might be what kills it.
It’s that or the gaffes will have it. Unlock the election.