A few weeks ago, when it first became clear that Britain would, against the Prime Minister’s explicit promises, take part in this year’s European Parliamentary elections, I, like many other angry Remainers, felt quite elated. Britain, still inside the European political architecture! A chance to fight back! Theresa May humiliated!
But now YouGov has, as pollsters tend to do to get their kicks, been asking people who they’re going to vote for next week. And having seen the results I can’t speak for anybody else but I personally am no longer excited in the slightest because egad, we’re all going to die, horribly, painfully and sometime next Thursday.
Some thoughts on these numbers, dragged up from the bottom of my gibbering brain, follow.
1) Are you fucking kidding me surely this can’t be real.
2) Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god
3) Okay. Let’s be rational about this. A poll is a snapshot, not a prediction. And pollsters have been wrong before, often and in recent memory. So this doesn’t mean that Nigel Farage’s single issue Brexit Party is actually going to get twice as many votes as its nearest rivaOH MY GOD IT’S TWICE AS MANY VOTES bloody hell I’m off again shit.
4) Deep healing breaths, deep healing breaths
5) Right. Where was I? Okay, in the last edition of this election in 2014, Nigel Farage’s Ukip topped the poll with 26.6 per cent of the vote. That was with a party with much more baggage and a more confusing name, and the elections took place before Brexit became an overwhelming national priority that was literally all we talked about in British politics. It was also before either of the main parties were commonly held to have imploded. So the idea that the Brexit Party would do seven or eight points better now is not actually that crazy.
6) That isn’t actually comforting is it? Sorry, when I started that point I was pretty sure it was going to be comforting.
7) More comforting: the idea that a third of the electorate would tick a box marked “Brexit” probably isn’t that crazy. It is a lot less than 52 per cent.
8) Some better news for Remainers: the Lib Dems on 15, threatening Labour (16) for second place, might actually pull the latter towards a more Remain-y position.
9) And this is actually, once you look a bit more closely, a pretty good poll for Remainers. The explicitly Remain parties (Lib Dem, Green, and Change UK) are on 31, plus whatever proportion of that 7 points voting “other” are for the SNP and Plaid… which, I’m guessing, gets us pretty close to the 34 points voting for the Brexit Party.
10) Also, the Tories coming fifth in a national poll, behind both Lib Dems and Greens, is objectively hilarious.
11) If you assume that Tory voters are broadly Leave-y and Labour ones are broadly Remain-y – a big assumption, but not totally crazy – then the combined Leave vote share is about 47, and the combined Remain one also about 47. Which is not that catastrophic at all.
12) Except the mood was meant to be changing by now, wasn’t it? These were meant to be the elections at which Remain could fight back.
13) And the voting system means that the Brexit Party is going to get far, far more MEPs than the explicitly Remain-y parties will.
14) And these are the people we are electing to represent us in Brussels, and we’re about to choose Nigel Farage and his mates.
15) It’s also bad because it’ll be seen to have “won” the elections.
16) Also, the entire “People’s Vote” campaign has been premised on the idea Remain could, y’know, win, which, based on these figures, doesn’t seem that likely.
17) And even if these results won’t be replicated at Westminster, which they wouldn’t be, they will serve to pull the Conservative Party further and further towards extreme versions of Brexit, for fear of getting annihilated by their voters if they don’t.
18) And while it’s easy to forget this sometimes, the Conservative Party is still, technically, in power.
19) So, to sum up: oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.
20) I’m frightened.
21) Hold me.