If Corbyn puts Diane Abbott into the Home Office after June 8th, he will go down in UK political history as the greatest miracle worker of all time
The two new opinion polls out today show the Conservatives’ lead in GEUK17 slipping to 7% (TNS) and YouGov (5%). Yes, yes, yes – I know we’ve heard it all before: but listen, if anyone’s going to get indigestion eating words here, it’ll be me.
Last time out ten days ago, I did describe the Labour gains as ‘a potential earthquake’; but there’s no getting away from the fact that I didn’t think any kind of earthquake was really on the cards:
The difference this time is that we now have enough data to say with some certainty that the improbable has become highly possible….if that isn’t too many possibilities to take on board. Put more simply, both pollsters show a steady but clear decline in the Tory share of voting intentions, and a rise for Labour.
The most interesting question to ask now is, “Why?”; but as so often, the answer is a multiple choice one:
- May’s rather spineless decision to play safe and wave from the Zil Lane has got up the nose of many Brits who see her as weak and indecisive. (That is still a minority by the way)
- The slogan ‘Strong and Stable’ was a mistake. I think that’s right….and also, the PM’s robotic repetition of that (and a few other soundbites) came across to the electorate as marketing bollocks. The British, on the whole, remain suspicious of marketing.
- Labour has done well along the undecideds. (I did suggest that ten days ago, and as of this morning it was confirmed)
- Labour has worked harder in the social media. I abhor the way that, at times, they have used simplistic correlations to do it, but then that’s politics today.
- If the Left has pulled one masterstroke in this election, it has been the decision to position Corbyn as a man outside the bubble who connects with people and draws massive crowds. There is a degree of truth in this.
- The graphic (dare I say horrific) detail of the Conservative Manifesto launch has worked to Corbyn’s advantage. As both polls were after that event, circumstantial evidence tends to support it as a major factor.
- Unlike many previous elections, this one is going to see a higher turnout….and that can only favour Labour.
- UKIP attracted a massive percentage of traditional Labour voters, and they too (like former Tories) have returned to the fold.
The last two of these need more examination.
The TNS poll suggests a turnout of 67%. In 2015, it was 66%. The YouGov study says 64%. Both have used previous voting behaviour to downgrade what people actually said. Stated intentions, however, were around 85%. Perhaps – in comparing 2015 to 2017 – the pollsters are making a mistake. We shall see.
Has the decision by UKIP high-ups to sit out the election delivered a bonus to Labour? With a 3% + or – margin of error, the answer is NO. Roughly speaking, the leakage to Labour and Tory has been equal.
But nevertheless, ten days ago three officials from different Parties did say to me they thought the election would be closer than most people think. For obvious reasons, they weren’t prepared to illuminate further; perhaps they were operating (respectively) on pessimism, wishful thinking or canvass returns. Perhaps it was two or more out of three.
What they couldn’t do is foresee events like the Tory Manifesto launch and the Manchester atrocity. More to the point, they almost certainly didn’t see the events now rising up to hit us like a garden rake:
- If Labour wins, Sterling will collapse
- If Labour wins, the Eunatics in Brussels will feel vindicated
- If Labour wins, the radical activists will see their ideological rigidity as the right course to have adopted
- If Labour wins, all bets are off re Brexit….unless Corbyn asserts himself
- If Labour wins, the vulnerable in our country will get a far better deal, and the justified demands of Waspi will at last be seriously considered
- If there is a Hung Parliament, the biggest Party must seek a Coalition…that is going to be the Tory Party: but with squeezed smaller Parties, where are the partners they might seek?
This last question is intriguing; and indeed, it could deliver us into something approaching 1931.
It seems to me very likely that, were the Hung Parliament to become a reality, the Conservatives will try to rule with no overall majority, and the secret support of some Blairite Labour MPs. I do not doubt that some of them would be up for it, but that in turn would start either a deselection purge under Corbyn…. or the Corbynistas breaking away to form The Real Labour Party – or perhaps both.
Further, there is the question of May’s position per se. She would be talking to Brussels not with the mandate she wanted, but instead the support of social democrats almost certain to be Remainers. This in turn could easily split the Tory Party….and lead to her replacement.
Overall, it looks messy. But then, messy is the only starting point from which Britain is going to get the sort of constitutional reform it needs. It’s either that, or a lurch into dictatorship.
I hate to end on a sour note, so I won’t. I am far from being converted to the primaeval politics of Corbyn, McDonnell and Abbott, but it behoves me to accept that I massively underestimated the strategic and charismatic electoral talents of Jeremy Corbyn himself. No matter what happens from here – and there is, remember, still a fortnight to go – you have to give the bloke credit for getting Labour to here. Undermined by the Campbells, insulted by the Conservatives and ridiculed by the media, he has persuaded hundreds of thousands of electors that the fight is not hopeless.
To succeed, in the space of just over five weeks, in pulling the Labour Party back from historic annihilation to unique political upset is an astonishing achievement. Those unwilling to accept that reality I would write off as biased ideologues. But then, I tend to see Labour’s Shadow Cabinet as precisely that too.