"A lot of people are only just starting to think about the election and they won't have sat through every bit of the TV event last night. What they'll glean, though, from snippets and headlines is a sense of how this campaign has changed, written on the leaders' faces. Jeremy Corbyn, more comfortable, more assured, with better prepared answers. Theresa May, really having to explain herself. And in this last stage the vulnerabilities are exactly where you'd expect. For Mr Corbyn it's on issues like security, his personal views on groups like the IRA. And for Mrs May, it's a Conservative prime minister facing tough questions over public services ..."
|Labour Party activists campaigning in Hayle in Cornwall - 29/5/2017 - I can name Kelly, Mick, Dawn, Alana, Keith, Charles and me|
We have come a long way in a month of campaigning. Kuenssberg had been found quite recently to be in breach of BBC neutrality guidelines in her hostile treatment of Jeremy Corbyn. The bias against the man and his values and policies was evident across the media, mirroring the power of an establishment locked into either direct self-interested hatred for socialism or a refusal to acknowledge that this maverick backbencher could ever be taken seriously since to do so would mean tearing up a lifetime of assumptions.
In short, many sections of the media have been guilty of lazy and short-sighted journalism. They have failed to give adequate attention to the exponential rise in the membership of the Labour Party. We are now half-a-million strong. Nor have they had the foresight to credit ordinary people with the
intelligence and imagination to recognise the attractions of a socialist vision for the 21st century. Journalists such as Polly Toynbee - and even in the end Owen Jones - turned their pens against Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. These former icons of the liberal left need to eat their words now - and on June 8th hang their heads in shame. Toynbee and Jones convinced themselves that a socialist programme led by a decent man of integrity could never bring Labour to power. They are so close to being proved wonderfully wrong.
I'd like to share with you in this post an important analysis by Alan Travis I found in the Guardian on Friday 2 June - around the time of the paper's grudging endorsement of the Labour Party under the leader most of its journalists had been trashing since his unexpected arrival on the national stage. It concerns the significance of the voting intentions of the young - the young who have been betrayed and shafted by those in power.
|Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in the General Election of 2017|
Travis argues that the key issue behind this week's divergence in the opinion polls is whether the younger voters who make up the surge in Labour's support will actually make it to the polling stations on Thursday. The YouGov/Times poll published on Thursday 1 June had the gap down to 3% - the Conservatives on 42% and Labour on 39% . Survation mirrored these figures. However, other polling companies such as ICM and ComRes show the Tories maintaining a double-digit lead, down from around 20% to 10%. The disparity is explained in the pollster's treatment of younger voters, especially those aged 18-24 but also those in the 25-34 cohort. In both groups, Labour enjoys a lead over the Conservatives.
While younger voters may tell pollsters in large numbers that they intend to vote Labour on Thursday, it seems that they are less certain they will make it to the polling station according to the ICM poll - 44% of 18-24s say they are 10/10 certain to vote, in contrast with 66% of 35-64s and 80% of over 60s. Polling companies such as ICM and Comres have decided to weight voting intention figures for younger and less affluent voters by their actual turnout rates at previous elections. Other companies such as Survation and YouGov are not doing this and are weighting them by current voting intentions. For example, Survation reported that 82% of 18-24s intend to vote in this election, compared with 43% in 2015.
|The Labour Party street stall in St Ives - Saturday morning - 3/6/2017 - Pedyr, Graham, Rex, me, William, and Lindsay and her two children|
Alan Travis acknowledges that it is more complicated than this but concludes that overall this is why YouGov and Survation are reporting it so close. Wonder of wonders, at last the generation that has been betrayed and shafted by over four decades of neoliberalism is set to call the shots. Payback time.
Let it be.