Westminster Insiders Reveal How Their Election Campaign Is Going

"I’m struggling to think of a high point."
November 28, 2019, 11:38am
Commons Confessions
Commons Confessions is a column by political journalist and author Marie Le Conte. Keep reading for more anonymous insight into British politics from those in the know.

Hey, welcome back to Commons Confessions! The election campaign started 76 years ago and we have a few more decades to go until December 12th. It’s cold and dark and everything and nothing seems to be happening all at once, so we checked in with our Westminster insiders to see how they’re faring on the road, and what they make of it all. Here it is, in fully anonymous fashion, as usual.


“The campaign has been good. It’s different to normal mainly due to the weather, so the hours you can actually campaign for are a lot shorter due to daylight saving. It’ll be interesting to see if that has an effect on voter turnout and fairweather voters.”

“The NHS is a big issue and I’ve had several people say they’re voting Labour on that issue alone. But, all of them have said they’re voting Labour despite Jeremy Corbyn not because of him. I have lost count of the number of people who’ve said they’re voting Labour but they don’t like Corbyn. Now, this happened in 2017 too and we made gains, but it’s happening much more this time around.”

“Die-hard working class voters, especially from northern backgrounds like my own have really fallen in love with Boris. Everyone knew he appeals to different people, but to see we have miners publically getting behind Boris really did shock me.”

“Jeremy Corbyn is going down very badly on the doors – at most doors I have to say that the good news is that it’s not him on the ballot paper… it’s me!”


“Brexit is coming up a lot less on the doorstep than I expected, but it comes up much more so in Leave areas than Remain. I’ve heard 'let’s get Brexit done' several times.”

“It’s always a hard-fought campaign in my seat [in Wales] but it’s been noticeable how the Tory candidate has been doing so little – leaving it up to the national campaign and Johnson to help sway things.”

“We appear to have been playing election bingo on the road. Jo [Swinson] has cuddled a baby, worn a high hat, worn high vis, operated a digger and pulled a pint.”


“It all feels a bit flat to me – it doesn’t seem like there’s much excitement about any of the parties’ plans and it feels like everyone is quite worn out with it all, and we’re only halfway…”

“We are into an era in which the leaders of all main parties divide the voters – even Jo Swinson hasn't managed to replicate that inclusive appeal that won the Lib Dems all those defecting MPs earlier in the year.”

“It feels like very negatively-motivated voting – people being propelled away from the options they like least is the main factor. [It's] depressing and unpredictable. If you superimpose that onto an unprecedented level of voter volatility, the underlying shifts that the political scientists are mapping, and a huge level of undecideds and late voter registrations, it's a really strange mixture.”


“The low point is Jeremy Corbyn being mentioned on the doorsteps of people who have always voted Labour and held their nose last time but can’t do so again. It’s a Leave area and he comes up much more than Brexit. People don’t like Boris, though.”

“I’m struggling to think of a high point. It’s fucking freezing and dark.”

“The high point was definitely cuddling a baby on day one, though roasting marshmallows with children was a great moment.”


“I think there is a lot less focus on manifestos this year and it really is the battle of Brexit. On the doorstep, this seems to be the main thing people want to talk about, whereas it took more of a backseat in the previous election.”

“There’s lots in the manifesto that I like, but the only comment I’ve had from voters on the doorstep is that it’s too left-wing. Also, what’s our headline offer? Why can’t we have a pledge card with five key pledges like 1997? That would make it much easier to engage with people on the doorstep.”


“As a Westminster geek, it’s frustrating to read 60-100 pages of grand ideas, with little detail of how any of these plans would work but I appreciate that I’m not the target audience for these! Although who is? Surely most people don’t even look at them, and those of us who are really interested in what changes the next government will want to bring in don’t get enough of a sense of how it would actually work.”


“It feels like all the parties are doubling down on their favourite issues and aren’t dealing with the difficult decisions to come. It feels to me like they’re all pretending 2020 will be a return to 'normal' politics, whereas I think whoever wins – whether or not they have a majority – we’re still going to face all the same issues as we have for the last three years.”

“My overall view is that we are looking at a Tory majority, but again it felt that way in 2017 and we ended up with a hung Parliament.” “No one knows how the soft, traditionally Labour vote is going to break, because although Corbyn is toxic on the doorstep to many of them, in the end will they really vote Tory or even Brexit Party? Will enough of them vote Lib Dem where that is the only option to defeat a sitting Conservative – in Esher [Dominic Raab’s seat] for example, or in some London seats? This is the huge unknowable factor because in 2017 there was already a bit of resorting of Labour votes to Tory, but also a late Labour recovery.”

“Will Lib Dem voters be able to overcome their distaste for Corbyn enough to vote anti-Tory in other places, even if the Labour MP is a moderate – not a Corbynite? This matters in university seats.”

“I wouldn't be surprised if you get a Tory majority and a really big block of SNP, which means in the long run, goodbye UK, and in the short run, goodbye Europe.”