How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the MRP

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Everybody is talking about it: the new YouGov MRP poll released last night. The result was much-anticipated because the method used – multi-level regression and post-stratification – accurately predicted a hung parliament in 2017 when other polls were off the mark. It is different from other forecasts because it starts with the aim of identifying voting intentions among different types of voters, then applies those findings to constituencies based on their demographic make-up and other characteristics. The sample size is over 100,000, rather than between 1,000 and 3,000.

Anyway, the MRP poll has predicted a 68-seat Tory majority. While Labour would hold on comfortably to previously close seats in London, such as Battersea, it says the Conservatives will smash through the ‘Red Wall’ of Labour Leave seats. This means losing Tom Watson’s old seat, Dennis Skinner, Caroline Flint, Melanie Onn. All those marginals that frankly appear to have already been written off by many in the party – Bassetlaw, Ashfield, Derby North, Newcastle-under-Lyme – would go blue.

Time to pack up and go home? Not at all. The MRP model broadly shows a similar picture to other polls, but there are lots of factors not taken into account. The most recent polls show movement in the right direction for Labour, but the MRP poll fieldwork was between 20th and 26th – not just over one or two days. And a record number of people registered to vote on deadline day. 37% of those who’ve signed up since the election was called are under 25.

As usual for Labour, but perhaps more so than ever, its get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation will be crucial. There are 30 seats where Labour is just 5% or less behind the Tories. If the Tory lead of 11 points in the MRP poll falls to seven or below, Boris Johnson could be denied a majority. Even a small shift in Labour’s favour would have a significant impact on the final outcome.

All the more reason to kick up a huge fuss about the possibility that Boris Johnson could avoid his own Andrew Neil grilling. The BBC confirmed yesterday that although interviews with Nicola Sturgeon and Jeremy Corbyn have already aired, there is no date fixed for Johnson. He is already skiving off the Channel 4 climate debate tonight, where we will see the only other candidate for Prime Minister –Jeremy Corbyn – promote plans for a green industrial revolution.

The findings of this poll is also more reason not to let the Tories off the hook on the unredacted US-UK trade talk documents revealed by Corbyn, even if the media wants to do just that. The papers show that the US has pushed hard for longer patents on drugs and vetoed any mention of the climate crisis. The bottom line is that this stuff is on the table, and we know that Johnson has designed a Brexit deal to be in hock to Donald Trump and not to favour alignment with the EU. Don’t let him get away with any of it.

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