While I don’t want to seem insensitive to the families of those who lost their lives on Saturday in London one of the things that we can’t get away from is that this attack, as well as the Manchester attack, have taken place against the background of a general election campaign.
Although we’re a few days out still, it seems fair to ask if Theresa May will lose this election on Law and Order. There might be a side-helping of the Dementia Tax but we have had three terrorist attacks in the last three months now and the argument of strong and stable leadership and being safe in Tory hands is wearing a little thin to everyone, even the right-wing press.
This is a disaster for Theresa May, because when Jeremy Corbyn attacks her for overseeing the loss of 20,000 beat bobbies, well with rounding Fact Check says he’s telling the truth. For anyone that’s forgotten Theresa May was Home Secretary for six years, so she really did oversee the decline in numbers, it was her department. When Theresa May counters with “I’ve increased funding for counter-terrorism police and increased police powers to deal with terrorism” people look around and wonder just how useful that is in light of the last three months.
I’m cynical and although I haven’t finally decided which candidate will get my vote on Thursday, it won’t be a Tory one. I’m disposed to not like Theresa May. But at the press conference yesterday she was being ripped apart by reporters from papers that at this stage in an election campaign would normally be saying only positive things about the Tories, and it’s not just one of them stepping out of line, the whole pack of them are savaging her, just as they did over the dementia tax. The actual reports in the right-wing papers are more balanced but, in and of itself, that’s still miraculous. Papers like the Telegraph and the Mail are writing articles which are critical of both May and Corbyn but, in many parts of the country, attacking him for wanting to talk to Sinn Fein before it became official government policy doesn’t play as “OMG, he’s a nutter” more as “Why did it take the government so long to do that?” I’m old enough to know it’s not quite that simple but ultimately it is what we ended up doing to get peace in Northern Ireland.
Although I’ve always been dismissive of the numbers the polls are showing and the predictions of the seats based on them, the trends in the polls probably reflect a real movement, even if we can’t be sure exactly how big it is. One thing that is interesting this time is that the polls are really divergent: one poll has a Tory lead of 12%, another of just 1% whereas in 2015, they all (wrongly) agreed. We’ll know by Friday morning, we’ll have a first indicator come just after10pm Thursday night and the first exit poll. But I’m starting to wonder if we’ll wake up to a Corbyn-led progressive alliance and the end of the May-era.
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