Theresa May (Not Win)

by Andrew Stuttaford

I don’t agree with The Spectator’s take on thedementia tax’ (which is/was bad politics and bad policy), but much of its new editorial on the failings of  British Prime Minister Theresa May’s election campaign hits the target, not least this:

 Her manifesto copied too much Labour Party policy, snarling at business and stealing [former Labour leader] Ed Miliband’s much-derided proposal of an energy price cap.  If this was a strategy to attract Labour voters, then it seems to have failed. Instead the opinion polls show an extraordinary surge support for Jeremy Corbyn’s party: the latest YouGov poll shows the Tory lead reduced to three vulnerable points, down from 20 points since the campaign started. She has not sold conservatism in this campaign, but sold herself instead. Her popularity ratings certainly were impressive, but there is more to the Conservative Party. Yet  has had almost nothing to say on school reform, the deficit, defence, the jobs miracle or the other issues in which her party has a strong story.

But she is, alas, quite right to say that the choice in this general election is between a Conservative government and a far-left Labour leader who would do immense damage to this country. Mr Corbyn is weighed down by a history of supporting extremists; his fiscal policies are far to the left of any party which has won an election in Britain since the 1970s. He lost a vote of confidence among his own MPs. And yet a week before polling day, the Conservatives are suffering a crisis of confidence, with some polls suggesting that Mrs May could lose her majority.

The game played by Corbyn (and some of the far smarter people behind him) has always been the same.  The opinion of the parliamentary party did not matter (that much). What counted was to win control of the Labour party—like it or not, an immensely powerful British institution— as a whole and then just wait.

What Corbyn and his handlers cannot have expected is that, thanks to Mrs May, they might not have to wait very long.

Now take a deep breath: Overall, the polls still suggest that the Conservatives will win (although there are  clear reasons to be worried about the way the polls are trending—momentum matters), but it does seem clear that, even if he falls short of victory, Corbyn will have done well enough to keep his job and continue with that long game.

In that connection, it’s worth noting that Labour was running well ahead of the Conservatives amongst the under-40s even before the campaign got going. People’s opinions change as they age, but even so…

And yes, it’s true that younger voters generally vote in smaller numbers than their peers.

The Guardian:

[W]hile younger voters may tell pollsters in large numbers they intend to vote Labour, they are far less likely to actually make it to the polling station. The difference is quite big. Only 44% of 18-24s in the ICM poll say they are 10/10 certain to vote next Thursday, compared with 66% of 35-64s and 80% of over-65s.

That gives some comfort to the Tories, although I suspect that they might have reason to worry about what the dementia tax has done to their support amongst older voters.

Then there’s this from The Independent:

The news that over a quarter of a million under-25s registered to vote on the last possible day was encouraging for those who have been trying to mobilise the youth vote during this election campaign. The figures had been steadily rising in the days leading up to the deadline, with 90,000 under-25s registering two days prior to it. Campaigns encouraging tactical voting encouraged students in particular to register at the address where their vote would count the most.

…Before the 2015 general election, on the last possible day to register to vote, 137,400 young people registered to vote. And on the last available day to register to vote before the EU referendum, 132,029 under-25s registered to vote. So what we’ve seen recently is a marked upsurge in people determined to have their voices heard during the election this time around.

Back to The Spectator:

At the start of this campaign, Mrs May said that Jeremy Corbyn had a realistic chance of victory. This was laughed off but now, due to her mistakes, it is terrifyingly plausible. As a result, it is not safe to abstain in this election.

Terrifying is not a bad word to use in this context. FWIW I’ve written something about Corbyn which is up on the home page today. Should this man of the far left win, it will be a disaster – and not only for Britain.

The Conservatives need to raise their game.

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