EVEN before the election was called, there was a great deal of debate about whether a winter election favoured one party or another.

The speculation was that old people would stay at home – favouring anti-Brexit parties, apparently – and that students would be disenfranchised because they would have left their universities and colleges and gone home.

Their non-voting would apparently benefit the pro-Brexit parties.

As we are about to show you, it’s all a lot of tommyrot.


IT is true that the last General Election to be held in December was back in 1923, but that was not the last winter election. The first of the two general elections in 1974 took place on the last day of February, traditionally the last day of winter.

The weather that day was described as “cold and generally cloudy with rain/sleet/snow pushing into western areas” and in Scotland we have a word for those conditions – dreich.

Turnout was actually well up on the 1970 turnout of 72%, with 78.8% of the electorate casting their vote, a figure that has never been surpassed since, and was the highest since 1951.

And for those who think winter elections harm turnout, the fact is that the turnout on February 23, 1950, was 83.9%, still the highest turnout in a UK general election under universal suffrage.

As for high turnout supposedly favouring Labour, they lost 78 seats in 1950 and gained 14 in February, 1974.

The General Election on December 6, 1923, had a turnout of 71.1% and resulted in a hung parliament, Ramsay MacDonald then forming the first Labour minority government. Though cold, it was a mostly dry day.

Winter elections were much more common before World War I – four of them between 1900 and 1911, and nine in the 19th century, but they took place before universal suffrage so any attempt to draw lessons from them is futile.

The facts appear to be that holding this election in winter favours no one party.

“Such evidence as we have – which is limited – does not provide any support for the proposition that you can’t hold an election in the winter,” said Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde.

He did sound a warning about Christmas, though: “The last time we had elections in December, Christmas was not an enormous secular festival, in which the country shuts down for two weeks, and spends the previous two weeks going to Nativity plays and office parties and all the rest of it.”


UNDER the Fixed Term Parliament Act of 2011, General Elections are supposed to happen on the first Thursday in May every five years. Theresa May shot that down in 2017 and now Boris Johnson has torpedoed the whole idea.

Yet the Act has achieved one thing – a Prime Minister can no longer call an election when he or she decides, and now Parliament makes that decision.

That’s progress for democrats, and not so for Boris Johnson and cronies.


AGAIN there is a pile of mince being spoken and written about this issue. As those who led the Remain campaign will tell you, the problem with the student vote and indeed the votes of young people generally it actually getting them to register in the first place.

At most universities and colleges across the UK, the term does not end until after the General Election so most students should be able to register and vote at their residence. If not, they can still register to vote at home and even apply for a postal vote – many students will already have gone home anyway, since the end of term is usually taken up by exams and revision periods that do not require daily attendance. Oxford and Cambridge universities will end their Michaelmas terms on the weekend before the election, but no doubt with all that intellect, the staff and students will work out what to do.


GOING by the opinion polls, the Conservatives should win by a landslide, but the polls said that in 2017. The bookmakers are in no doubt that the Tories will be the largest party with the odds generally around the 1/6 mark meaning you would have to bet £6 to win £1. That’s an 86% chance of a Conservative win, but they’re less sure about an overall majority, though it still points to a victory for Boris.

The popular oddschecker.com website states: “Bookmakers have priced up the Tories as strong favourites at 1/6, with odds on Labour winning the most seats drifting out to 7/1.”

That’s an implied probability of just 12.5% that Corbyn’s party triumph from a potential early general election. Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats have been pushed out to 30/1 in the same market, with the Brexit Party also drifting out to 40/1.

Oddschecker spokesperson Callum Wilson said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s comments this morning have resulted in a huge amount of interest in the ‘most seats’ market, with the Tories currently running out comfortable winners. Now that the EU have confirmed yet another extension, the UK is set to go to the polls. The markets suggest the Conservatives will achieve an overall majority, so it’s unlikely to end well for the Labour leader.”

Interestingly, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has a market on the SNP’s projected number of seats – under 51 is 10/11 and over 51 is 8/11.