The natural assumption during an election campaign is that the polls will narrow. Both Tory and Labour staffers I talk to expect it to, as do journalists and pollsters. They always do, is how the argument goes.
I’m not sure that’s the same easy gamble in this election as it has been in the past. In previous elections, trailing leaders have desperately attempted to woo the voters they feel they’d lost since last election. Exponentially increased airtime has helped them do so. Many voters who had once flirted with voting against the party they usually do have come home as we get closer to crunch time.
Leading parties also seem to look less appealing when scrutinised by the narrow election microscope. Their failings start to get an airing, and they’re forced to actually vocalise their plans. This would usually be a more difficult proposition for May than most, as she’s become rather adept at telling the press and the public as little as is possible. Yet, this government is too young to have made many mistakes and their plan is better than the other guys- as virtually any plan would be. Of course the Conservatives have their trump card- Brexit, which means Brexit- when attempting to explain their detailed plans.
Third parties usually fade away. The Liberal-SDP alliance looked like beating Labour in 1983. The Alliance briefly looked like being popular enough to form a government. While the Lib Dems continued this tradition- Cleggmania in 2010 resulted in 3 fewer seats and a 1 point increase in the popular vote.
I wouldn’t count on any of that this time. Sure, it might happen. But this election is unique.
Never before has a major party had a leader so desperate to insult the voters as Labour today. Never, even when Foot was talking about Nuclear weapons on the 1983 campaign trail, has a leader been so desperate not to speak to the voters who count. Nor has any leader of a major party- yes, even Ian Duncan Smith- been quite so clearly and obviously incompetent; at least Duncan Smith wore a suit, which would be less embarrassing on the world stage.
And never before has a party like Labour missed the point of an election. While they promise to give someone £5 here and £10 there, the Tories are the Lib Dems are fighting over Brexit. The defining issue of our time, ignored by Labour, will shape this election and shape our country’s future.
There is no reason the polls would narrow today. If Labour is to win, or even lose lightly, members and candidates need to work harder than ever to deliver a national message distinct from that of their leader, while also delivering a local message good enough to distract from the incompetence of the national party. And they need to pray that May’s Brexit plan is still one word long, and that Farron’s plan to remain unravels under questioning.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS