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Tories in pre-election social media ad blitz to counter tactical voting

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In the final debate with Mr Corbyn, Mr Johnson said "get Brexit done" countless times. His chief of staff believes in simple catchy slogans and for this election, it is "get Brexit done".

London

THE Tories have embarked on a final pre-election social media advertising offensive to counter opposition tactical voting.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also promised a tax cutting February 2020 budget combined with health, policing and education spending if the Conservatives win the election. In the first hundred days, he pledged new immigration legislation involving three types of visas: exceptional scientific, medical, technical, professional and managerial talent, skilled workers such as nurses and unskilled workers on short term working visits.

Polls during the past six weeks have pointed to a Conservative victory and the latest Sunday Times survey by pollster YouGov places the party at 43 per cent, 10 points ahead of Labour and far in front of the Liberal Democrats, the third main party. A seats projection by the data company Datapraxis, which uses almost 500,000 voter interviews by YouGov, forecasts a Conservative majority of 38. The Tories are expected to win 344 seats, up 27 on 2017, with Labour on 221, down 41, the Liberal Democrats on 14 and the SNP taking 47 Scottish seats, up from 35.

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Currency and stock markets have tended to believe the predictions, but if they are wrong, there could well be a steep downward reaction. Despite pollster projections, Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and others have embarked on shrewd tactical voting ploys to bring about a Labour controlled hung parliament. It is highly unlikely that the unpopular ultra-left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn can achieve a majority for his party. Nevertheless, Mr Johnson and other Conservative ministers remain concerned that there could be an alliance between Labour and the Scottish Nationalist MPs with support from the Liberal Democrats.

Polls can easily be wrong by a few percentage points either way and the Tories have to gain seats from Brexit supporting Labour voters in smaller Northern English, Scottish and Welsh constituencies. The Tories face three difficulties in these generally disadvantaged areas, first Tory austerity policies in the past decade have raised unemployment, poverty and resentment, there continues to be tribal Labour loyalty and the Brexit Party which is contesting seats could split the vote against Conservative candidates.

Labour is likely to maintain control of London seats and voters who support "remain" in the EU are expected via tactical voting to gravitate to either Labour or the Liberal Democrats as both offer a second referendum. Labour and Northern Ireland Democratic Unionists allege that Mr Johnson is lying about potential UK customs controls on Northern Ireland if Brexit goes through.

In a move to stymie the opposition's plans, Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson's chief of staff, is applying a strategy that succeeded in the Vote Leave 2016 referendum campaign. First, Mr Cummings believes in simple catchy slogans rather than complex policy promises that tend to confuse the ordinary, politically unsophisticated voter. In the Leave campaign, it was "take back control" and for this election, it is "get Brexit done".

In the final debate with Mr Corbyn on Friday for example, Mr Johnson said "get Brexit done" countless times. The Tory team is well aware that the 17 million "leave" voters and many "remain" voters who accept the democratic result of the 2016 referendum are fed up with the Brexit debate.

Mr Johnson already has a deal with the EU and parliament has already accepted the deal. The withdrawal bill needs to be signed and sealed with minimum amendments by the end of January so that free trade negotiations with the EU can begin. Mr Cummings also believes in target social media campaigns close to the election date. The Tories have thus hired the social media experts who helped Australian premier Scott Morrison achieve an unexpected victory.

Ahead of this coming week, advertising commentators estimated that in 30 days the Conservatives spent £200,000 (S$357,000) to £250,000 , while Labour has spent nearly three times as much on about 7,000 adverts.

The Tories have now launched an advertising blitz beginning with a £500,000 banner advert on YouTube urging voters to "end the argument" on Europe. A multi-million-pound social media offensive will continue in the days up to polling day.

"The choice is between a working Conservative majority government that will get Brexit done, end the uncertainty and allow Britain to move on. Or another broken hung parliament that will mean more of the same arguing, uncertainty and delay. Let's not go back into a parliamentary Groundhog Day nightmare," Mr Johnson said in a Sunday Times interview.