DAN HODGES: The local election results prove there’s one man Theresa May can always rely on to save her…
- Contrary to expectations, Theresa May appears the favourite to win election
- Dan Hodges argues this has a lot to do with her opponent Jeremy Corbyn
- He says we haven’t yet reached peak Corbyn because no one will rein him in
- Councils elections came after government scandal but weren’t a disaster
- However, infighting between Conservative factions could still mess it all up
Dan Hodges says contrary to expectations, Theresa May appears the favourite to win the next general election
On Thursday, a remarkable political event occurred. Vince Cable said something interesting and prescient.
Asked about who he thought would be Prime Minister going into the next General Election, he answered: ‘I think Theresa May actually.
‘She’s got a lot more stamina, and it serves a lot of people’s interest to have her there.’
The Lib Dems’ forgotten leader was right. This morning, in the wake of an expectation-defying set of local council results, the Prime Minister is the Lady Lazarus of British politics.
Not only is it conceivable she could fight a General Election, it has also become conceivable she could fight an Election and win it.
This previously incomprehensible scenario is contingent on a number of factors. The first, and most crucial, is that Labour remains under the hypnotic spell of Jeremy Corbyn and an army of vicious, anti-Semitic cultists.
The conventional wisdom at Westminster is that we have now reached peak Corbyn. This is wrong.
Corbyn has not yet peaked because – as I wrote two weeks ago – there is as yet no one in the Shadow Cabinet willing or able to drag him from his sun-kissed but lonely summit.
But we have finally reached peak Corbynism. Thursday was a dire night for Labour. We are eight years into a Tory government.
Theresa May defied expectations and avoided disaster at local council elections across Britain
This was despite government scandals like Windrush, dreadful growth figures, a Cabinet schism over Brexit and whispers of a leadership challenge to the PM
Pull the plug on this sorry mob
UKIP’S implosion continues apace. On Friday, general secretary Paul Oakley stunned radio listeners by comparing his party to the Black Death after its disastrous local election losses. Now I understand new leader Gerard Batten has decided to toxify the brand even further by agreeing to speak at today’s far-Right Day For Freedom event in Whitehall.
Other attendees include former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, alt-Right YouTube star Milo Yiannopoulos and Canadian blogger Lauren Southern – who says she’ll be there even though she was recently denied entry to the UK on the grounds her presence would not be conducive to the public good.
Meanwhile, Jo Marney – girlfriend of deposed former Ukip leader Henry Bolton – has delivered her verdict on Thursday’s results. ‘Ukip has no one to blame but itself for its failures in the locals,’ she rages. ‘Rejected reform and a leader who had all the world’s media watching.’ Surely it’s time to draw a line under the People’s Revolution.
In the hours before the polls opened, the news was dominated by the resignation of the Home Secretary, dreadful growth figures, a Cabinet schism over Brexit and whispers of a leadership challenge to the PM.
But in London, Labour failed to take a single council they were targeting, whilst outside, their vote share actually went backwards.
By the end of the evening they had recorded their worst local election result in opposition since 1982.
Fortunately for Mrs May, this reality has been withheld from Corbyn’s fanbase in much the same way Second World War Naval disasters were censored and kept secret from the British people.
Having spent a month pointing everyone towards upcoming triumphs in Barnet, Wandsworth and Kensington, the Corbynites were suddenly ordered to avert their gaze, turn their attention in the direction of Plymouth, and salute.
Which they dutifully did. Meaning we have now officially arrived at the cross-over point where Labour’s army of activist White Walkers have become a net asset to the Tories.
Their slavish devotion to Corbyn prevents any contemplation of his fallibility, never mind serious analysis of what needs to be done to improve his and his party’s political fortunes.
Their aggression – both on social media and the doorsteps – is now actively repelling the voters.
Dan Hodges argues this has a lot to do with her opponent Jeremy Corbyn constantly hurting Labour’s chances of election victory
And they remain fixated on seeking out and destroying saboteurs within their own ranks, rather than trying to reach out and construct a broad electoral coalition.
Jeremy Corbyn has now faced Theresa May in three national elections, and has failed to best her in any of them. She would be able to enter a fourth rematch with a degree of confidence.
But to prevail she would also need to have her MPs marching in step behind her. And there she can feel less confident.
The zealots on opposing wings of her party are currently circling the entrails of the 2018 local elections, trying to select the juiciest morsels.
The Kamikaze Remainers are claiming the receding threat of Corbynism gives space for a dramatic watering down of Brexit.
The Kamikaze Leavers – led by the Cabinet’s very own divine wind, Boris Johnson – are spinning that the results require a hardening of Brexit to lock in their pro-Brexit base.
Both groups are ignoring the truth. These results were not an endorsement of Anna Soubry’s thin-gruel Brexit, or Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Hard Brexit. They were an endorsement of Theresa May’s pragmatic, patient Brexit.
At last week’s tense Brexit cabinet committee meeting, Mrs May concluded by making a passionate and unscripted statement of her commitment to leaving the EU.
Hodges says Labour remains under the hypnotic spell of Mr Corbyn and an army of vicious, anti-Semitic cultists
But crucially, she concluded by telling her colleagues ‘we have to have a solution that can work’.
In doing so, Mrs May has aligned herself with the bulk of the British people. They want Ministers to call a halt to the ideological warfare over Brexit and give the Prime Minister the space to get on with delivering it.
And her colleagues – all her colleagues – should respect their wishes.
Yes, Corbynism is in retreat. But if either Brexit faction undermines her before the negotiations are completed, they could still throw him and his zealots a life-line. Not to mention indulging in an act of historic and futile self-immolation.
A successful parliamentary rebellion on the customs union or Single Market would almost certainly see the Remainers gifting the Tory leadership to a Hard Brexiteer.
Mr Corbyn’s deputy John McDonnell calling Marxism ‘a force for change today’ and one of the biggest influences on the Labour Party will not help their electability
Opening embracing socialism, let alone Marxism, will not help convince moderate Tory voters Labour needs to win a general election
Similarly, a leadership challenge by the Brexit ultras would risk handing the keys to No 10 to Corbyn. Whether they like it or not, Theresa May represents both sides’ least worst option.
Actually, that is unfair. The Prime Minister deserves better than ritual damnation by faint praise.
To date, the narrative constructed around her has been one of political failure. Rightly, given the squandered opportunity of last June.
But since her elevation as Conservative leader, the Tory vote share has remained consistent and resilient. And it’s time to acknowledge this is in no small part because of Theresa May, not in spite of her.
A clumsy attempt is under way by the ubiquitous ‘friends’ of the Foreign Secretary to claim the better-than-expected results in London were down to an expert flexing of his political muscle in Cabinet.
Jacob Rees-Mogg is again threatening to bring all the boys and girls of his pro-Brexit European Research Group to the yard.
Gavin Williamson continues his clumsy attempt to run a full-time leadership campaign while moonlighting as the nation’s Defence Secretary.
However, infighting between Conservative factions, including James Rees-Mogg (pictured) could still mess it all up
But the reality is the voters have interposed themselves between these pretenders, their thinly disguised ambition, and their leader.
The local elections were supposed to trigger a crisis for Theresa May. Instead, they have given her the green light to continue moving forward in her inelegant, unfussy, doggedly provincial way.
Mrs May will never be fully comfortable in a Prime Minister’s skin. Speak to Ministers, and they refer to her ‘limited political skill-set’.
One in which pragmatism frequently undermines her clarity of purpose. An instinct towards conciliation erodes decisiveness. Caution robs her Government of energy and dynamism.
Maybe they’re right. But after Thursday – if Corbyn remains her opponent, if her party can stay united, and if she can ride her luck – that still could be enough.
Source: Read Full Article