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  • OK, Election 2019.

  • Plots, Pacts and Possibilities.

  • Robert, we've got this great electoral fight

  • coming on December the 12th.

  • But already there are suspicions of what

  • I suppose you might call a bit of 'match fixing'

  • up front because one of the features of the first few days

  • has been the attempt to form pacts

  • on both sides of the Brexit divide,

  • so a Leavers' pact and a Remainers' pact.

  • But they're both fraught with difficulty.

  • Yes.

  • As they attempt to form pacts, the failure

  • to form pacts, and the possibility

  • that the voters will have got the signal

  • and worked out what to do anyway.

  • Right.

  • So shall we start with the Leave side?

  • Yep.

  • Which Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit party,

  • has called his 'unofficial Leave alliance'

  • Unilateral Leave.

  • Unilateral Leave alliance, excuse me,

  • and is only partial, right?

  • Someone says this was rather like Emma Watson's announcement

  • that she was self-partnering.

  • Right.

  • As opposed to single.

  • Nigel Farage, apparently without any quid pro

  • quo from the Conservative party, announced

  • that he was pulling the Brexit party out of the 317 seats

  • that the Conservatives already control,

  • which is a pretty big concession.

  • One of the pollsters, Matthew Goodwin,

  • said he reckoned there were about 35 seats where that could

  • make a real difference to the Conservatives, 35

  • marginal seats.

  • So that could be 35 seats that the Tories would retain.

  • Exactly.

  • As their territory.

  • Exactly.

  • Rather than 35 gains crucially.

  • Yeah, places where the Leave vote might not be as split.

  • There's been quite a lot of briefing

  • from the Brexit party side about all the conversations

  • they may or may not have had with Downing Street in order

  • to get this deal.

  • Certainly by Farage's demeanour one has to conclude that

  • he's not completely happy whatever conversations took

  • place.

  • He has, however, said that he's going to stand in the 300-odd

  • other seats of Great Britain primarily held by the Labour

  • party, some by the Lib Dems and the SNP.

  • Plaid Cymru, as well, of course.

  • And he's going to contest all of those seats.

  • So actually, it's a fairly partial concession.

  • It's a big deal in the Tory seats.

  • But the fact is in the seats the Conservative party needs

  • to win...

  • Mm-hmm.

  • ...to take this election, they're going to face a Brexit

  • party challenge at least in theory and at least on paper.

  • OK.

  • So what I've attempted to do here,

  • very badly, is not draw a snowman, but to try and do a,

  • I mean, in a very loose description,

  • a Venn diagram of the Leave, what did he call it?

  • Unilateral...

  • Unilateral Leave alliance.

  • Unilateral Leave alliance.

  • So let's just call it 'Leave.'

  • Yeah.

  • OK.

  • Should we also have a Labour-held seats-bit of this?

  • Yeah, we should.

  • We should, OK.

  • Oh, does that work?

  • Maybe.

  • It's going to have to, isn't it?

  • OK.

  • So, let's plot.

  • Let's plot what happens here, then.

  • So, these seats where the Brexit party and the Conservatives

  • were going to be head to head...

  • Yeah.

  • ...do they just happily go into in Tory column?

  • No, the one assumption that we all

  • make when we talk about pacts is to very arrogantly

  • assume that everybody's vote can just be handed over.

  • That Nigel Farage has just gifted all the Brexit party

  • votes in the Conservative seats to them.

  • And of course, it's not like that because if those people

  • wanted to vote Conservative, they'd have voted Conservative.

  • And some of these numbers are quite small.

  • And when you get down to around 1,000-2,000 people,

  • you begin to think they hold their views quite strongly.

  • And so the fact they haven't... they didn't jump for Theresa

  • May last time, suggests that maybe they won't jump this

  • time.

  • Well of course some of the Brexit party vote,

  • as he's always maintained, are people who are actually Labour

  • supporters who've gone to the Brexit party but can't bring

  • themselves to go to the Conservatives.

  • So they might be here?

  • That's right.

  • Again, estimates suggest that Labour loses one vote

  • to the Brexit party for every two that the Conservatives

  • lose.

  • That will change, of course, now that the Conservative seats

  • are not in play.

  • So he will take votes from Labour as well,

  • which can help the Conservatives in lots of places,

  • where it pulls down the Labour vote without hurting

  • the Conservatives.

  • So, there's some seats in this sort of area?

  • I mean, how many votes and how many seats, though,

  • can a Farage party really take...

  • Actually win?

  • ...from Labour do we think?

  • Well, can they win any?

  • I mean, we've talked about Hartlepool.

  • Mm-hmm

  • That would be a possibility.

  • But one or two seats, or even if that,

  • because it's about concentrating the vote...

  • Yeah.

  • ...in one seat because the first past the post is such

  • a tricky...

  • I mean...

  • ...system

  • ...instinct tells me they won't take any.

  • Yeah.

  • I wouldn't be shocked if they took one or two.

  • It will slightly depend, and this

  • is where we're still trying to work out

  • what's going on under the hood, whether the Conservatives have

  • actually quietly decided not to bother in a few places

  • and give them a bit of a clear run.

  • I think one of the really interesting seats

  • is Peterborough, where the Brexit party is very, very

  • strong, and which used to be held by the Conservatives

  • once upon a time.

  • The split between the Brexit party and the Conservative

  • party could easily keep Labour in charge of that seat.

  • So I think, most of the time, this challenge

  • won't matter too much unless it's

  • in a place where voters are genuinely confused,

  • what is the better Leave option?

  • Some of those will be very, very fiercely fought.

  • But, I think actually Nigel Farage has

  • sent a subliminal signal to voters by his pulling

  • out of the Tory seats, which is actually saying, look,

  • only the Tories can win this election.

  • So I think even in the Labour seats he's still contesting,

  • in most places, voters will have got the message that

  • if Brexit's your number one concern,

  • you probably ought to vote for the Conservative party.

  • Well, actually, I would say it's been notable

  • how uncomfortable Nigel Farage has

  • been over the last few days.

  • He's got pressure on both sides, people inside the Brexit party

  • who want them to stand firm.

  • There are some rebel candidates even

  • in these Conservative-facing seats who are standing anyway.

  • There's a guy in Clacton-on-Sea who's

  • changed his name so that he can register

  • as a independent Brexit party candidate

  • in rebellion against Farage's unilateral deal.

  • So there is going to be all sorts of people who feel,

  • as you rightly said, that a party can't gift its voters...

  • No

  • ...to another party.

  • And I think that becomes really significant

  • when you look at the other side of the coin,

  • the Remain alliance.

  • Just one other point.