An exclusive group of guests heard predictions from Lord Finkelstein at a HURST “election special” event. All the signs point to a comfortable majority for Boris Johnson following the general election but not a landslide victory, said Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE.
The Conservative peer and adviser to the party, who is also a columnist and associate editor at The Times, was the guest speaker at the latest Executive Insight lunch, held at the Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays.
Lord Finkelstein provided some interesting insights into the factors he believes are most likely to determine the election outcome, and said he thinks Boris Johnson is heading for a majority of around 30 seats. Boris has a huge advantage over Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in terms of their personal ratings, and the Conservatives are well ahead on the economy as they aim for a fourth term in office, said Lord Finkelstein.
No party has ever lost a general election from this position.
Lord Finkelstein said people do not generally follow politics, and what really affects the way people vote are their personal experiences. For example, their view of the NHS will be formed by the hospital service their parents received.
Voting will also be shaped by how safe people feel on the streets, the education their children are getting, their experience of the austerity programme and, above all else, how the economy is affecting them. Lord Finkelstein said that, at the time of the 2015 election, real incomes were on the rise and this helped David Cameron to gain a majority. In 2017, they were falling.
Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE
This time around, real incomes are once again going up, albeit moderately. He also cited the leadership issue as a key factor in determining how people cast their votes.
In 2015, it was David Cameron v Ed Miliband.
“People had some doubts about Mr Cameron but basically liked him,” said Lord Finkelstein. “Ed did not look prime ministerial. Who will be prime minister makes a big difference.”
When the 2017 campaign began, Mr Corbyn was unpopular but, by election day the public had a somewhat better view of him and the ratings gap between him and Theresa May had narrowed.
This time, Mr Corbyn’s rating is very low and stable, said Lord Finkelstein. He added: “No leader in history has ever had a rating as low as his. It’s very difficult to win from this position.”
However, he warned that Mr Johnson’s ratings remain unpredictable because people’s views of him vary. Some are worried he’s a clown or are unsure whether to trust him, others like his strong position on Brexit and are impressed he did a deal with the EU.
Another factor which shapes the way people vote is that they like to know what others like them are doing. “People copy each other and take very subtle influences,” said Lord Finkelstein.
He said the Liberal Democrats have not experienced much of a breakthrough during the current campaign. While they may increase their votes, this is unlikely to be reflected in seat gains.
Addressing concerns from the business audience, Lord Finkelstein said HURST’s clients were right to be ‘very worried’ about the prospect of a Corbyn-led government because of his hostility towards the private sector, but he said there was a 70 per cent chance that the Conservatives would win a majority.
Click here to find out more about our Executive Insight programme, or contact Lucy McCormick for further details