The Tories face but one hurdle on June 8th: complacency. That thousands upon thousands of people who would vote for the Conservatives could they be arsed to drag themselves to a polling station will figure why bother, May has it in the bag, there’s no way that Corbyn can win.
If you were Lynton Crosby, looking at a plan for this general election campaign you did up in mid-April, written in caps across the whole of this week would be “INSERT LABOUR POLL BOUNCE HERE”. Now’s precisely the time you would want Labour to creep up a little in the polls because you require something to make a Corbyn premiership seem like a credible possibility. You need the spectre of John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry running the country to cause low level panic; hard to do that when it seems to be an impossibility.
It’s one of the major reasons the Tories are going easy on Corbyn and Labour at present, allowing them some space for their more popular policies to get some attention. The idea is to allow a narrative that a Corbyn surge could prevent a Tory victory and thus leave us with a “coalition of chaos” to take hold. You then use the final two weeks of the campaign to metaphorically batter the other bunch mercilessly, having by then credibly established the threat.
And like everything else in this campaign, the polls appear to be responding in the precise way the Tories would like them to. Watch for stories of “Could Labour do better than we expect?” this week – if they start popping up, it’s all going to Lynton Crosby’s plan to a terrifying degree. All the while, they will have a Labour leadership complicit in this aim, even down to the eventual size (and georgraphical location) of the wipeout. It’s a golden era to be working at CCHQ, I imagine.
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