REVIEW OF THE YEAR: MAY Prime Minister Corbyn?
EDITORS NOTE: In May the mood of the General Election decisively changed. Theresa May fumbled the ball inches from the try line. Darrell Goodliffe asked if Prime Minister Corbyn could really happen? It didn’t but it very nearly did…….
Let’s pause for a moment, take a deep breath, suspend our disbelief and ask ourselves a question. Is it possible that Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?
The reason to ask this question now is the narrowing of the polls which now have Labour as close as 9 points behind the Conservatives. This reflects a general trend which appears to show the Conservatives losing significant ground. I think we have to take these polls seriously but also keep our wits about us. Part of the real cause is the fact that Labour’s policies were received well by the public and the Conservatives, notably the dementia tax, have spectacularly tanked. Indeed, the policies poll more popularly than Corbyn himself. This should give always excitable Labour activists their first pause for thought – people will undoubtedly be considering not just the policies but who they want to be Prime Minister when they put their X in a box. The second pause should come from the undoubted fact that people may like the policies but this does not necessarily mean they will vote for them. People speak with their heart, and there are many Labour policies that are heart-warming on paper, but they vote with their head. Remember Ed Milliband’s cap on energy prices? People loved it. People also realised it would never work so didn’t ultimately vote for it.
The popularity of the policies will also have a positive effect on Labour support being keen to speak up as the unpopular nature of the dementia tax will make Conservatives disinclined to be quite so keen. I am frankly baffled by the daftness of the Conservative’s dementia tax as well as its inhumanity. It is well known that the Conservative’s key demographic are older voters who almost always vote. In fact, this policy has proved so toxic that once again, the ‘strong and stable’ leadership of Theresa ‘Maybe’ has resulted in another u-turn.
Despite this volte-face, Mrs May’s hubris and arrogance reigns supreme once again and has been cruelly exposed for all to see. Her authoritarian and ego-maniacal side is also starting to shine through – witness the internet policy and the ‘nauseating’ cult of the personality surrounding her during this campaign. So, already the gloss is wearing thin on this government. Good news from a UKIP point of view because it points to the sooner-than-expected revival of a gap in the market for a credible political opposition.
Labour supporters who flag up Mr Corbyn’s rockstar appeal at rallies are forgetting this is nothing new – even when Labour were performing poorly in the polls he was pulling these kinds of crowds and frankly they equate to little when it comes to predicting the outcome of a General Election. A far more substantive boon for Labour is the surge in voter registration which appears to be predominately youth-driven – however, the mass registrations would have to fall fortuitously in swing seats and be enough to counter the mass exodus of UKIP voters to bluer shores. This is something that could become even more pronounced if Kippers feel the danger of a Corbyn government is all the more realistic and pressing so it is unlikely this will be the case. We have to remember that a coronation makes for a boring election campaign – who would want wall to wall of that for weeks on end? So, the media will work its razzle-dazzle to create a contest where there is none.
Ultimately, moods change through a campaign but are ephemeral and shift back on polling day. Remember 2010 when the Liberal Democrats took the lead following the novelty of the first TV Debates? Didn’t last did it. The Liberal Democrats made modest gains, enough to deprive the Conservatives of a governing majority, but nowhere near the seismic shift the polls suggested would happen. We are at about that point in the campaign this time – when fatigue is setting in and flights of fancy seem all the more entertaining. So, you can exhale now, I don’t think Comrade Corbyn will be in charge come June 9th. However, this campaign has destroyed the notion that the Conservative Party dominance will be as solid as it at first looked like it would be and from that, we can take heart.