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Fraud, fundraising and fuzzy polls in General Election coverage


Professor Justin Fisher – Brunel University London's Head of the Department of Politics, History and the Law School – has appeared widely on national TV and online this week, providing expert comment and analysis for early General Election coverage.

Sky News

Professor Fisher was interviewed live by Anna Botting in her Sky News at 11 programme on Tuesday 18 April, and was asked whether Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to hold a snap election was a clever idea.

"With the main opposition in disarray, she would be mad not to have an election," said Professor Fisher – "especially because the Conservative vote tends to hold up more than that of the other parties."

However, he made it clear that it was unlikely to be plain sailing for May, and that a large majority was by no means guaranteed: "One of the things we've seen in the last year or so is the Liberal Democrats picking up some real gains in London and the South West of England…"

When invited back to join Kay Burley in the studio on the afternoon of Thursday 20 April, Professor Fisher spoke further about the uncertainty of May's current large lead in opinion polls.

Providing a counter-argument to Joe Twyman from polling and market research firm YouGov, Professor Fisher commented that "it's not vote share that wins elections; it's seats. And we can't extrapolate at this stage what the outcome will be in terms of majority from the poll published in The Times.

"On paper, May's 24-point lead looks massive, but look behind the headline polls. If Labour or the Liberal Democrats do well in pockets, the outcome on seats could be radically different."

Mirror online

Professor Fisher was quoted in two Mirror articles, published on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 April. Although Theresa May has a significant advantage, Professor Fisher warned that the timing of June's election could prove a considerable miscalculation.

This is because the Crown Prosecution Service is considering charges against up to 20 serving MPs who are alleged to have benefited from battlebuses packed with party activists, the costs of which weren't declared.

"If we see charges then, politically, it will be very, very damaging," Professor Fisher warned.

"The biggest threat to the Tories in most of these seats comes from the Lib Dems. The election could turn out to be a considerable miscalculation if a lot of them are charged in the immediate period before the general election. But I would be surprised if all of them were."

Read the full articles:

The Mirror's coverage was commented on in the Press Gazette:

Financial Times

On the morning of Friday 21 April, Professor Fisher provided comment on the news that the Liberal Democrats had raised £500,000 from supporters in two days. This is despite the fact that the snap election comes at a low point of the 'income cycle' for political parties.

"An election two years out presents parties with more challenges, since they won’t have had the time to raise significant sums in the nine months before the election," Professor Fisher said.

Read the full article:

Professor Fisher, who is also the Director of the Magna Carta Institute, can be followed on Twitter: @justin_t_fisher 

Reported by:

Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations