We can’t have it both ways, of course. We can’t be all: “Don’t trust the polls” when they don’t suit us and all: “Have you seen the polls, yippee!” when they do.” That said, two polls by Survation, the most accurate pollster in the General Election have Labour three points ahead and six points ahead. More importantly, these figures mean Labour has, on these figures, gained fourteen points since May 9th. Much more importantly, Labour’s vote share rose ten per cent in the election.
The Tories are in turmoil. They have a leader whose ear is now ubiquitously described as tin. If anything, that is slightly flattering. Having stumbled through the election campaign, she now has to endure colleagues saying the public should stop using her as “a human punchbag.” When that is your defenders, you are in big trouble. In her worst nightmares, she could not have expected to have her lack of empathy exposed so brutally by the horrific scenes in the Grenfell Tower. Now, she faces the ignominy of Brexit, the issue on which she called the General Election, looking very sticky indeed. David Davis has already conceded a major principle on the timing of different elements of the negotiations, making Mr Hard Brexit look more like Mr Mouldy Biscuit.
Now, caveats are in order. It is great fun taunting the Tories as their ships burn outside Troy, but it wasn’t Calamity May that did for her Premiership. It was a combination of factors outside the Thick of It farce of the Westminster Village. I have never claimed to be anything other than a local socialist activist and scribbler, but I think my pre-election argument that Labour’s short-term divisions over Europe would pale into insignificance compared to the hidden but fatal flawline in Toryism. More significantly, the death throes of austerity and the enduring problems of UK Ltd are coming home to roost, creating a toxic swamp through which the less than intrepid Mrs May must wade. The Tories’ General Election disaster was not caused by May’s personal failings, huge as they are, but twin millstones, grinding her hopes to dust. On the one hand, there is the millstone constituted by Europe, crumbling austerity and the UK economy. On the other, there is the personal integrity of Corbyn, a man who became more popular every time the British public saw him on TV, the army of Labour volunteers campaigning and the vision represented in a very good and credible Manifesto.
Now, some notes of caution. Labour’s votes tend to pile up in their heartlands so we need a much bigger lead to win a majority. That means drawing up target Tory marginals now. There remain obdurate PLP voices, replicated in some CLPs, still resisting project Corbyn which saved so many MPs’ seats. Some Labour organisations are still living in the past, preferring cosy cabals to open, democratic, inclusive mass campaigning, drawing in the new members. The other issue is that the trade union movement and workplace organisation still remains weak. Political advance coinciding with subdued working class organisation is a potential danger.
All that said, few outside Labour’s half million members would have predicted the current situation. We are increasingly well-placed.