This time last month, the idea of a ‘snap election’ interrupting this glorious summer was a horrible prospect. An inevitable five more years of Tory rule. A cruel blow to a Labour party in complete disarray. But once recovered from this brief, defeatist hiccup, an opportunity stirred. A great big what if? What if this isn’t a foregone conclusion? What if this tactical, power-hungry move on Theresa May’s part actually backfires?
Since then, Labour have released the manifesto to rule them all, the polls no longer place the two main parties miles apart, and all of a sudden there’s a sense that these next two weeks could change the tide even further. To the point where – whisper it – Labour will win the election. Is it a pipe dream? Will the First Past The Post electoral system kill those premonitions as soon as they’ve appeared? Here are the signs that maybe, just maybe, Jeremy Corbyn will become our next PM.
The polls are narrowing
When Theresa May announced a snap election on April 18, her party had a 16 point lead in the polls. This ascendency increased to 20 points within a week. But after a series of minor calamities for the Conservative party – all amounting to one slight but notable decline – Labour has slashed the Tories’ lead to just five points. YouGov, which compiled this ‘poll of polls’, called this a “remarkable turnaround.” But is this just the start?
Westminster voting intention:
CON: 43% (-1)
LAB: 38% (+3)
LDEM: 10% (+1)
UKIP: 4% (+1)
(via @YouGov / 24 – 25 May)
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 25, 2017
Corbyn is drawing massive crowds
Not many political candidates can interrupt a Libertines gig in a football stadium and escape without being booed off stage. Last week, Corbyn turned up to Prenton Park, the home of Tranmere Rovers FC, while Carl and Pete were backstage. Instead of receiving a swarm of bottles and vitriol, his unexpected speech drew a rapturous reception. “I want a country where everybody can play sport if they want to, every child can learn music, and society is brought together by that,” he said. “Do you want housing, do you want care, and do you want a society coming together? Or, do you want selective education and fox hunting?” Not exactly a tough choice.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes on the Tory campaign…
Stage Managed Photo Op for Theresa May in the North East. Look at the scene, designed to convey a crowd. Didn't bank on this pic being taken pic.twitter.com/IktTjrVPG0
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) May 12, 2017
Labour’s policies have the edge
Labour’s manifesto, as already discussed, reads like a multi-point plan for a perfect society. Far-fetched and idealistic, maybe, but it’s stirred excitement. The Conservatives’ plan is one of continued hardship, austerity and division, all tucked under the banner of being a ‘strong and stable’ strategy in uncertain times.
The Tories are now running into difficulty because May’s touted-so-often-you-wonder-if-she-has-any-other-words-in-her-vocabulary ‘strong and stable’ mantra is beginning to buckle. What kind of strong, stable leader performs a U-turn when she realises her vastly unfair social care policy is being criticised and dubbed a “dementia tax”, including by loyal supporters of her party? What kind of strong, stable leader can make the steady-headed Jean-Claude Juncker furious in a Brexit crunch talks dinner? This tired slogan has firmly lost its edge.
On top of that, small businesses responded negatively to the Tory manifesto by 51%, according to Telegraph figures. It appears to have alienated a core of Conservative voters, when all the party needed to do was commit to very little.
Labour are sensing an opportunity by pushing one of their flagship policies forward, pledging to scrap tuition fees before the next university year, ensuring this generation of students get out and vote. The tide is turning their way.
People are organising massive victory parties
Check your Facebook events, and chances are you’ve been invited to a Jeremy Corbyn Victory Party. One shows Corbz posing with a bottle of buckfast, speaking to his people. Another urges supporters to “bring cans to share” for the celebratory occasion. But they all come to the same conclusion: This is happening. Corbyn’s got it in the bag. Let’s all get on the sesh in Parliament Square.
Best of all is Cans 4 Corbyn, an absolute work of art that might as well take over your iPhone calendar and write “CELEBRATE CORBYN’S VICTORY WITH A BIG BAG OF CANS” as an all-day event on June 9. The website is pretty simple. It contains a GIF if Corbz revving up a crowd, the caption “JUNE 8TH. THERE WILL BE CANS”, set to the perfect backdrop of Robbie Williams’ ‘Rock DJ’. Somehow, it makes the sudden surge of Labour support seem like something that will definitely, 100%, no-question-about-it continue, to the point where the Tories actually lose and we’re all dancing on the streets.
Due to get a couple cans in
— #MERKY (@stormzy) May 26, 2017
But hang on a second…
One big lesson taken from last year’s Brexit and Trump victories – the polls don’t always reflect actual public opinion. And YouGov’s ‘poll of polls’ takes into account figures from a wide berth. Some polls separate Labour and the Tories by four points, others by a substantially higher 14 points.
On top of that, the current polls, when translated into actual parliamentary seats, still give the Tories a majority of over 100 seats (345 to 219). Not the landslide many were expecting when this election was first announced, but there’s still a long way to go.
With campaigning recommencing today (May 26) following the horrific Manchester attack, Corbyn is taking a risky stance by partially blaming Britain’s foreign policy, and the failing ‘war on terror’, for recent terror attacks. While today’s flagship speech will stress that his argument “in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children”, he’ll suggest that the UK needs to have a more nuanced approach to the Middle East. This will either win over more voters or shoot him in the foot.
The point being – Labour need to keep fighting for the issues that matter and appealing to those who feel increasingly alienated by their rivals’ policies. And those considering voting Labour need to actually turn up on June 8 to make sure the result hangs in the balance.