Farage Backs Down, Won't Field Candidates in Tory-Held Seats
Unilaterally Backed Down
After making numerous threats and demands, Nigel Farage unilaterally backed down in 317 constituencies won by the Tory Party in 2017.
It was a huge climb down given Boris Johnson offered nothing in return.
Yesterday, in Johnson and Farage In Secret Deal? Who Forced Whom? I commented "Today's video allows Farage to save face. Farage can claim he got Johnson to bend even if he didn't."
The video is one in which Johnson strongly emphasized that he would not extend the transition period beyond 2020. But that is the same thing he has said all along. By emphasizing that position at precisely the right time, he may have helped Farage climb down.
Leave Split Reduced
Thatcherism on Steroids
The UK could use Thatcherism on steroids. Alas, this isn't.
Trump Alliance Silliness
Via the Guardian Live, Jeremy Corbyn says Farage's Plan to Stand Aside in Tory Seats Amounts to 'Trump Alliance'.
Guardian Live Take
This is undoubtedly the best news that Boris Johnson has had during the election campaign so far. It doesn’t mean that the result of the election is now a foregone conclusion, and it does not mean that a hung parliament is now impossible, as Nigel Farage claimed, but the result of an election in which the Brexit party is not standing in Tory seats will probably not be the same as an election in which it was splitting the Brexit vote in those constituencies.
This is not a major victory even if it is the "best news" of the Tory campaign so far.
Support for the Brexity Party had already been falling like a rock. Consider my stats posted yesterday.
Declining Brexit Party Support
- 4 Poll Average Since Parliament Dissolved: 7.5%
- 11 Poll Average Between Elections Authorized and Dissolution: 10.4%
- 6 Poll Average Before Election Decision: 10.5%
- Go back to Mid-September (not shown) and the average was 13%
Another poll came out today. The Brexit Party 5-poll average since Parliament dissolved is 7.8%.
It will now head to 4% or less.
Farage Announces Leave Alliance
"I have got no great love for the Conservative party at all. But I can see right now that by giving Boris half a chance, by keeping him honest and holding him to account by getting people in, and by stopping the fanatics in the Liberal Democrats who’d sign us up to everything, wouldn’t they, the United States of Europe, European army, you name it, I mean they even want to revoke the result of the referendum. No, I think our action, this announcement today prevents a second referendum from happening and that to me I think right now is the single most important thing in our country."
"So in a sense, we now have a leave alliance. It’s just that we’ve done it unilaterally. We’ve decided ourselves that we absolutely have to put country before party and take the fight to Labour."
Farage has now accepted that Johnson’s deal is acceptable, and that a Johnson majority government would be preferable to a hung parliament, it is hard to see the logic of his stance. It remains to be seen if a further retreat is coming. Thursday is the deadline when candidates must decide whether they are or are not standing in constituencies.
I would like to see Farage pull back in other seats as well.
You-Gov Analysis via Guardian Live
Farage’s decision to stand aside in current Conservative-held seats and not in Labour-held seats that the Tories will be looking to gain will likely make very little difference. There are three caveats to this. Firstly, whilst there has been a swing towards the Tories in their battle against Labour, the increase in Lib Dem and SNP vote share means that there is likely to be a swing against them in seats where they are battling against those parties. However, there are not as many of these seats as there are Labour/Conservative marginals, and most of them will be the kind of places where the Brexit party wouldn’t have won many votes anyway, such as in Scotland or more remain-leaning seats in the south.
Secondly, it does help mitigate against the effects of a surge in support for Labour during this campaign. If the Labour vote share does start to recover, in the same way it did in 2017, this will make it more difficult for the party to start gaining seats from the Tories. However, on current polling it will take quite a turnaround of Jeremy Corbyn’s fortunes in order to reach this point.
Finally, whilst the practical effect might be quite small, we don’t know what effect Farage’s message might have on the broader perceptions of the parties. It could be that even in seats where the Brexit party are standing, voters that might otherwise have supported the party now feel more comfortable voting Conservative after Farage’s comments.
However, given the Brexit party was already trending downwards in the polls, it looked like this was happening already. So, despite today’s drama, this is unlikely to be a game-changing moment.
UK Election Projection
That final YouGov paragraph above is precisely the point I made yesterday.
Farage's decision to stand aside in 317 constituencies will deliver anywhere from zero to six additional seats.
It is possible those six seats matter, but it also possible they are a mirage and that Farage's announcement did nothing at all but speed up the decline in Brexit Party support that was going to happen anyway.
Meanwhile, I see absolutely no reason to change my UK Election Projection: Tories win 351 seats.
Election in 4 weeks + 1 Day.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock