Tories should relax – it is LABOUR that is in meltdown, says LEO McKINSTRY

Express 1 week ago
Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party are in big trouble

After all, the Tories have not won a comfortable majority since Margaret Thatcher’s last victory in 1987, while they are trying to do so this time after nine draining years in power. “This election is going down to the wire. It’s going to be very, very tight,” said Boris during a visit to Salisbury on Tuesday. What really haunts the Conservatives is the memory of the disastrous campaign two years ago, when Theresa May saw her dreams of a landslide turn to ashes. The scars of that experience are still raw, serving as a painful reminder that a massive poll lead can be blown. 

On the eve of voting in 2017, the internal Tory prediction, based on reports from the constituencies, was of a solid majority of 50 to 60. That forecast was not even close, as May lost a string of seats and became the beleaguered leader of a minority government. 

So it is understandable that many Tories fear history could be about to repeat itself. 

But such anxiety is misplaced. 

There is no indicator that May’s meltdown of 2017 will be replicated next week. 

This time the Tories are better prepared, more effectively led and less complacent. 

May ran away from the TV debates

In contrast, the Labour Party is far more divided, discredited and doctrinaire than in 2017. 

Whereas Jeremy Corbyn was treated like a veteran, genial rock star on the campaign trail two years ago, today he is widely reviled as an extremist ideologue who has turned his party into a toxic swamp of anti-Semitism, intimidation and misogyny. 

The turning point for the Tories in the 2017 general election was the calamitous launch of their manifesto, the centrepiece of which was the incendiary proposal that families would have to pay for their own social care from any assets above £100,000. 

Dubbed by opponents the “dementia tax”, this measure was like a missile aimed at the Tory core vote. 

The impact was immediate. 

Almost overnight, the Tory lead fell by 10 points. 

But the Tories have successfully avoided such a catastrophe this time. 

Their cautious manifesto gives no hostages to fortune. 

Instead, it neuters Labour’s attacks over Government austerity by promising a specific range of improvements for our public services, including 50,000 more nurses, big increases in capital spending on our infrastructure, 50 million GP appointments and 20,000 more police. 

There are a host of other factors that work in Conservatives’ favour. 

With his humour and charisma, Johnson is far better able to connect with the public than May. 

The PM has participated in most of the televised debates. 

May ran away from them. 

Having negotiated his deal with the EU, Johnson has a compelling message on how he will swiftly deliver Brexit, whereas May used slogans as a substitute for policy. 

Moreover, Tory high command is better organised now, with clearer lines of responsibility, and a more innovative approach to social media. 

But the Tories’ greatest advantage this time, compared with 2017, is Labour’s collapse in credibility. 

Two years ago, when Corbyn was unknown by much of the public, he was able to pose as the benign champion of social justice. 

Travelling more than 7,000 miles as he addressed 90 rallies, he saw a surge in popular support and enthusiasm. 

But there is no sign of any such mood now. 

On the contrary, Corbyn has been permanently on the defensive in this campaign over his shameful record as a hard-Left agitator. 

It is his own manifesto, not the Tory one, that has been the vote-losing document. 

Full of wildly extravagant spending pledges and schemes for the massive expansion of state control, it is a Marxist wish list and an exercise in ­revolutionary fantasy politics. 

But amid the orgy of fiscal profligacy, the Labour Party has nothing coherent to say about Brexit, the greatest issue facing our country. 

All Corbyn offers is more dither and delay. 

It is this hole at the party’s heart that has led to such disillusion among the five million traditional Labour supporters who backed Leave in the 2016 referendum. 

That explains why Corbyn is haemorrhaging support across the Midlands and the North, with even safe seats now said to be vulnerable. 

The Tories may be having the jitters, but Labour is sliding into panic mode as a resounding defeat now seems to beckon. 

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