With the country’s 2017 snap election drawing to a conclusion, Peter Bingle offers readers a retrospective analysis on its highs and lows. 

The 2017 general election campaign is drawing to a close and the nation is grateful…

A truly terrible Tory campaign (symbolised by the shambolic manifesto launch and the disappearance of the PM’s ‘brain’ Nick Timothy) has been pitted against a clever Labour campaign in which a hard-left leader has been transformed into an English version of Chauncey Gardiner (Chance, the gardener) in Being There.

Luckily voters are not silly and on 8th June they will deliver to Theresa May the large majority which she is seeking to secure a good Brexit deal.

For the Tories the election campaign should have been very straightforward. Based on a sound economic recovery it should have focused on aspiration and reward for hard work. Building on Thatcher’s political legacy it should have set out a confident vision for Britain in the post Brexit world in which individual freedom had primacy over state power and control.

In addition, it should have contrasted the core beliefs of the Tory Party with the views of Corbyn and his acolytes, people who are opposed to almost everything that is cherished and held dear by the white working classes.

Instead, the Tories decided to run a campaign based entirely around the persona and personality of Theresa May (a mistake) and a manifesto which had more in common with Ed Miliband than Margaret Thatcher, let alone Dave & George. The voters’ response was a very large raspberry!

Jeremy Corbyn has attempted (with some success it has to be admitted) to hide his hard left credentials and history by ‘romanticising’ his views and personality and promising to give extra funds to virtually every demand. The best example was the promise to abolish tuition fees (even for former students!) announced just before the deadline to try and persuade the beneficiaries to register their votes. Luckily young people and students don’t vote as heavily as pensioners.

Theresa May’s good fortune is the proven fact that the electorate is not gullible. Over this final weekend the Tory vote will harden and waverers will decide they cannot bring themselves to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. The idea that he will poll in the high thirties is laughable. The Tories, however, will poll in the middle to high forties.

The Tories will win big because outside of Greater London a very different election campaign is being fought, a campaign in which Brexit is almost the only issue. This is the reason why Labour is imploding in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East of England and, to a lesser extent, the North West. The Tories will also make gains in London, Scotland and Wales.

The collapse in the Labour vote in the West Midlands and above is the real story of the 2017. The reason is quite simple. Seats which voted heavily for Brexit are not going to vote for strongly Remain Labour candidates, particularly where UKIP polled well in 2015. Having Tories from ‘Up North’ will have a massive impact on the composition, tone and policy agenda of the next Tory government. It will have to be a truly national government. London and the South-East will no longer dominate the agenda.

The Lib Dems are going to lose seats on 8th June. There are rumours that both Tim Farron and Norman Lamb could lose their seats. There is no new Lib Dem dawn. Tim Farron’s interview with Andrew Neil was a masterclass in how to self-destruct in public. He has had a terrible campaign.

So, over the next few days Tory voters who have been less than impressed by the Tory campaign and Tory narrative will return to the fold. This will deliver a majority of around one hundred to Mrs May. She will secure her mandate despite the best efforts of her inner circle and election gurus to bugger it up.

On election night expect to see the slaying of quite a few high-profile Labour politicians. The Brexit ripple has turned into a tsunami in the West Midlands and above. In London, there could be a big surprise in Dagenham & Rainham.

Politics is a funny old thing …

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