Five things that could happen to make election night interesting

There will be anarchists that avoid the election and anarchists who soak it all up. There’ll be anarchists who don’t vote and anarchist that do. For anarchists who want to stay up all night and boo the establishment, Jon Bigger has a handy guide for things to watch out for.

This election feels like it has lasted forever after Boris Johnson attempted to secure a date for the poll back in September. At the same time, it barely feels like it ever got going. It focused on two men. One told us that he would “get Brexit done” continuously despite that phrase not really meaning very much and the other bandied about ever increasing amounts of money without really explaining how it might affect any of us. Those two men have had pretty lacklustre campaigns, fitting for a country with a political class bereft of competence.

The polls have showed a healthy lead for the Tories throughout and unlike 2017 the gap has not narrowed significantly since the start of the campaign. You’d be forgiven for thinking that an early night is in order tonight and there’s not much to see on election night. This will be my seventh general election night and each one has thrown up some surprises and with that in mind I’m preparing to stay up late regardless. Here’s a few things I’m watching out for (although I admit one or two of these are highly unlikely, even if they’d put an anarchy cat among the establishment pigeons).

1. The Tories might not win

The polls are not an exact science. In 2015 they underplayed the Tory support and what was considered a close election and possible hung parliament resulted in a clear Tory majority. To compensate the polling companies changed their modelling to ensure that it reflected better support for the Tories. They overcompensated in 2017 and didn’t pick up on the huge levels of first-time voters and the high percentage of them voting Labour. They key question for the polls this time is whether they’ve actually adjusted their model in any meaningful sense. There is a chance that they are wrong again. How wrong and in whose favour is the big question.

Let’s imagine Labour does better than expected. Another hung parliament could be the result in this scenario with either the Tories or Labour with the most seats. In any case this will be a bad result for the Tories. It will likely mean they have lost seats in Scotland and failed to make the inroads expected in Labour heartlands in the midlands and north of England. There’s little room for bullshit on election night: you’ve either won or you’ve lost and they’ll have to admit that their mantra of “get Brexit done” didn’t produce the result they wanted. Boris Johnson won the leadership of the Tory party a few short months ago with the intention of getting the UK out of the EU and defeating Jeremy Corbyn. In both those aims he will have failed.

2. Whichever party wins Boris Johnson and other high-profile politicians could lose their seats

Johnson’s majority in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency is just over 5,000. It would be a massive surprise for him to lose this but imagine the scenes. In fact he could lose his seat but the Tories still win more than anyone else. I’m not entirely sure what happens in such a scenario. As leader of the largest Party the monarch would ask him to form a government but on the same day he would have to resign as leader because the prime minister must sit in parliament.

There are other high-profile figures at risk of losing their seats. The hideous architect of austerity towards disability benefit claimants, Iain Duncan Smith, has a majority in Chingford and Woodford Green of just 2,438. He could be on his way after a decades long career of attacking the most vulnerable. Stay up and cheer him on his way. Dominic Raab, the angry candidate in the Tory leadership battle in the summer and current Foreign Secretary, has a healthy majority in Esher and Walton but it is a Remain constituency and this could cause him serious problems when the votes are counted. Jo Swinson stands in East Dunbartonshire, a swing seat, with the Lib Dems and the SNP swapping it regularly. Swinson was arguing she could be prime minister a few weeks ago but she could be out on her ear by Friday morning.

3. There will be resignations

Very quickly the UK political world can transform as discussions move from what number of seats each party might win to who might replace the beleaguered losers. The party leaders are particularly vulnerable to the resignation virus. Can Johnson cling on if he ends up performing the same trick as May and not secure a majority? Can Corbyn carry on under any circumstance? Will Jo Swinson still be leader after a disastrous campaign if the Lib Dems lose seats? Will the Brexit Party still exist? My suspicion is Corbyn will resign whatever unless Labour win a majority.

4. The BBC’s swingometer might blow up

It used to be easy to use the measure of swing to predict election results. It was very simply a matter that the change in one constituency in percentage terms would likely mirror all the other constituencies to a large extent. So with a few results in an accurate prediction of the full make up of the Commons could be displayed on screen and everyone could go to bed. Brexit and tactical voting have made that much harder. If the election is close we might not know the full results until well into Friday morning. The Lib Dems might get votes from Labour supporters in some areas and this might be flipped in others. Devolution makes it even more complicated. The fact that the Brexit Party is only standing in GB seats which the Tories didn’t win last time adds to the complexity. General UK wide share percentages might not tell us much about marginal constituencies.

5. What happens if the monarch dies between one prime minister being sacked and the new one being appointed?

This has constitutional crisis written all over it. When there is a change of government there is approximately 20 minutes between one prime minister resigning and a new one being appointed. Both have to go and see the monarch. As one car leaves the palace, the next one is sent to bring the new prime minister to be appointed. What happens if in that 20 minute hiatus the monarch dies? We have in that very unlikely scenario no properly functioning head of state and no prime minister. What would they do? Is Charles waiting in the next room just in case his mother pops her clogs? It’s a mystery but whatever happens it would certainly get people sitting up again after staying up all night.

Jon Bigger

Follow my analysis on twitter all night long – @TheJonBigger
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Photo Credit: Guy Smallman