International Affairs

Expect PM May to thwart socialist push on UK election day

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Back in April, riding on a wave of political popularity, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election on June 8 (Thursday) with the intention of creating a strong Conservative majority in parliament, giving her greater clout in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

However, the prime minister’s consistent 20-point lead in the polls throughout the spring has since disappeared. Most recent poll averages show the Conservative majority now hovering around 8 percent.

An unpopular manifesto combined with endless (unrealistic) opposition promises

{mosads}At 30,000 words, the Conservative manifesto is the third-longest political prospectus published since 1945. The manifesto released in May failed to offer a liberal agenda, as I had previously feared would be the case. PM May did not offer any credible spending and tax plans, but instead offered some badly presented plans for social care reform, which proved to be incredibly unpopular.


Refusing to attend the BBC’s seven-way leadership debate only worked to strengthen the standing of her socialist opposition, Jeremy Corbyn.

Nonetheless, it isn’t the prime minister’s unpopularity that has led to a tightening race in recent weeks. With Jeremy Corbyn promising the electorate a gigantic list of freebies to be paid for from his magical money tree (tax increases and future generations through debt repayment) his opposition Labour Party has seen a surge in popularity.

The radical, left-wing candidate has promised to boost welfare spending, provide free lifelong education, free childcare, free school meals, nationalize the railways, nationalize the energy industry and an additional £30 billion in National Health Service funding and almost £30 billion in extra school funding.

Promises of “free” goods and services are much easier to sell to the electorate than commitments to balance the budget and live within your means.

May is not perfect, but she is by far a safer bet than Corbyn

May might not be an ideal option for prime minster, and her policies are not the most liberal-oriented nor market-friendly, but her bad policy proposals pale in comparison to the economic implications of a Corbyn-led government.

According to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Labour Party’s spending proposals would grow the deficit, increase the nation’s debt, encourage business to leave and still leave a £9 billion black hole.

Not only do the Labour Party finances not add up, but the economic consequences of hiking tax rates and nationalizing vast swathes of the private sector will cripple the economy and lower growth rates, creating further fiscal imbalances in the medium to long-term.

Likely Election Results

With left-wing commentators suggesting that the election is going to be a close one and YouGov recent polling pointing toward the possibility of a hung-parliament, it is important to remember that the pollsters were wrong in predicting both the 2015 general election and 2016 EU referendum results.

YouGov has consistently put the gap between the ruling Conservative Party and opposition Labour Party at just 4 percent, however, most other polls have projected a gap of around 8 percent in recent days.

YouGov tends to have overly-optimistic turnout assumptions for younger voters, who heavily favor parties on the left. Most YouGov polls conducted in recent days and weeks assume a 62-63-percent turnout rate among 18-24 year olds, whereas, in reality, as previous general elections have shown, youth turnout is usually around 43-44 percent.

Furthermore, there is still the possibility of the “shy tory” impact in election polling; voters who tend to lean to the right are more private in revealing their voting intentions. An average of seven YouGov polls conducted before the 2015 general election put the Conservatives 3.1-percent below their actual result, and 2.4-percent below their actual result in 2010.

Based on all of these details, I would make a conservative prediction that Theresa May will increase her majority in government by around 50 seats. Here is my estimation for the four largest parties: Conservative party, 355 seats;  Labour party, 214 seats; Scottish National Party, 48 seats; Liberal Democrats 12 seats.

Jack Salmon is a Washington, D.C.-based economic researcher focused on federal fiscal policy. Salmon holds an M.A. in political economy with specializations in macroeconomics and comparative economic analysis from King’s College London. 

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill. 

Tags Brexit Conservative Labour Party Labour Party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn Protectionism Socialism UK elections United Kingdom European Union membership referendum
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