We have had another week of terrible polling for the Tories – suggesting if there was an election tomorrow (which there won’t be) they could be reduced to third place in the Commons behind the SNP. Another by-election win for Labour with a 10% swing hardly caused a ripple as it has become so common place.
We had a hint from the Tories after their mini reshuffle that the election will be in 18 months time. They have a simple strategy. Keep going, reduce the mistakes and drama, deliver on a few ‘priorities’ and hope ‘something’ turns up in their favour that promotes their chances or sinks Labour’s.
So this helpful blog by Sam Freedman is a timely reminder that the next election is not won yet!
Over the years I have used much of this blog to work out how we won Loughborough in 1997, 2001 and 2005, but not quite so much about how we only lost by 3000 votes in 2010 despite everything going against us.
The Tories victory was narrow and of course led to a Coalition government not a Tory outright win. We need to spend a bit more time working out how our target strategy retained seats we should have lost on a uniform swing. The opinion polls should have meant a much bigger loss for me in Loughborough, but years of hard work and the individual voters had a different approach. It was the Lib Dems who benefitted from our switchers. Their portrayal as a left leaning progressive voice enticed voters. When they reneged on their Student Tuition Fees promise everyone saw through them and they paid the price in 2015. If people who switched to the Lib Dems in Loughborough in 2010 had given us another 4 years we would have avoided the disaster of austerity and the Cameron/ Osborne Brexit referendum.
The next 18 months will be full of opinion poling that will look good for Labour. On the day as the campaigns have an effect these massive leads for Labour won’t be the same.
We have to prepare for the narrowing of the polling. It will happen and we shouldn’t panic.
And secondly we should be working out how we govern with either a small Labour majority of indeed a minority Labour government. We saw in 2015 how the Tories killed off Miliband with their ‘Chaos under Miliband’ campaign, so we don’t want to be talking before an election about alliances, despite the well meaning discussion between progressives. Under our current system those discussion and plans for coalition are used against us. But detailed work does need to be done to help Minister govern without a majority in what will be the most difficult of countries to govern – Britain in 2025!
I don’t want to depress anybody and I hope we win with a large majority that gives us the chance to do goat things. But I am a boring nerdy policy maker who likes to plan for the worst too!