Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Election 2024
  2. UK Politics
6 June 2017updated 07 Jun 2017 10:25pm

Theresa May’s campaign visits show the Tories are still confident of victory

In the last week the Prime Minister has visited a slew of safe Labour seats.

By George Eaton

In 2015, as the polls pointed to a hung parliament, journalists were baffled by David Cameron’s repeated visits to “safe” Liberal Democrat seats. What, some asked, was the Conservative leader doing in David Laws’s patch? (Where the Lib Dems had a majority of 13,036.) Why wasn’t Cameron focusing on marginal battles? On election day all became clear as Laws’s seat and 26 others turned blue. Private Conservative polling, which had long shown such constituencies vulnerable, proved a better guide to the result than public surveys.

This time round, though polls suggest the Conservative lead may have shrunk to just one point, Theresa May’s recent visits show the Tories remain confident of victory. In the last week, the Prime Minister has visited a slew of safe Labour seats: Hemsworth (Labour majority: 12,078), Don Valley (8,885), Penistone and Stockbridge (6,723) and Bradford South (6,450). This is not the itinerary of a leader fearing defeat or a hung parliament.

Jim Messina, the former Obama strategist, who foresaw the Tories’ triumph in 2015, has publicly ridiculed YouGov’s projection of a hung parliament. Conservative candidates similarly believe that their poll lead is closer to the 11 points suggested by ICM than the one point suggested by Survation.

Few shadow cabinet ministers, including some Corbyn allies, believe YouGov’s projection of a hung parliament. As one recently told me: “It feels like we’re going backwards, the Tories are going to gain seats from us and, other than one or two, I can’t see which we gain,” a shadow cabinet minister told me. He predicted a Conservative majority of 60-plus and doubted that Labour would retain at least 200 MPs. Candidates believe the party will outstrip Ed Miliband’s 30.4 per cent vote share, and potentially even Tony Blair’s 2005 share of 35.2 per cent, and yet still lose seats. Like Hillary Clinton in 2016, Labour risks piling up wasted votes in big cities and failing to win small towns. 

In 2015, the mood on the ground was a better guide to the eventual result than the polls. One cannot know whether that will be the case again (much hinges on youth turnout) but the divergence is marked.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action