Fascinating developments across the water in this election. My old mucker from Daily Telegraph days, Robert Colvile points out that it arises less from a failure of Tories, but more from a general consolidation of opposition voters behind Labour in England (and the SNP in Scotland).
What has actually transformed the race is not the falling popularity of Theresa May, but the rising popularity of Jeremy Corbyn. Here is the same chart plotting both Corbyn and Labour’s YouGov ratings.
You’ll notice that there’s been a dramatic rise – all the more so when you consider that the Tory line, while looking dramatic, actually bounces around within a 10-point range: transpose it on to the second chart and it would look much flatter.
Yep. His conclusion is that competence gets you into Number 10 rather than niceness. Maybe. Although his example of Trump would not exactly support such a thesis.
More likely large electorates like the UK’s are turning into more complex systems than they’ve ever been before. The Leave side won the complexity stakes last June, shading a margin result in all the marginal places where extra votes were to be found.
Labour continues to put most of its effort into the ground game, and Corbyn’s big people rallies. That will work in places, where the leader resonates. It may even be having an effect in some of the core areas the Tories have been planning to make big gains.
However much polls narrow, we know that almost any narrow outcome favours our local parties. Or at least the ones who claim their seats. Sinn Fein’s absence is a passive ascent to whichever English party wins, much as their non-participation in June handed their cards to Brexiteers.
The most cogent argument thus far is in the New Statesman from Patrick Maguire…
…with the polls narrowing, the Tories could be on course for a majority of under 50 seats. At that point, the Northern Irish MPs – particularly the unionists – will really begin to matter to the narrative again.
The DUP could, on a really good night, increase its representation from eight to 10 with victories in South Antrim and South Belfast. On a bad night, it might lose Belfast East to the cross-community Alliance and fall to seven (though this looks rather less likely).
But regardless of the result, its MPs will provide May – of whom they are an enormous fan – with valuable insulation against the unpredictable whims of her backbenchers.
Nobody drives a commons bargain like the DUP, and in the last parliament, this sort of leverage proved useful in debates over Troubles legacy prosecutions.
Should Stormont remain mothballed and the slow return to direct rule continue, the DUP – plus one or two Ulster Unionists – could again wield outsized influence over the tone and direction of government policy on Northern Ireland.
Arlene Foster’s adroit decision to cast the election as a de facto referendum on Northern Ireland’s place on the union could well pay off.
Why are they such great fans of Mrs May? Henry at Conservative Home argues that the UK Government’s Blairite-Cameroon role of honest broker is officially over, with an implication for hungry crocodiles that they will stay hungry…
Not only does it take a big reward for Republican intransigence off the table, but it also sends a very strong signal that a British Government led by Theresa May will not be minded to grant the separatists the further shopping list of indulgences they’d need to actually have a shot at breaking Northern Ireland away from Britain.
Should the pro-EU SDLP lose one or more seats to the DUP and Sinn Féin – a scenario that most informed observers agree is unlikely, but not impossible – then the 56 per cent of Northern Irish electors who voted remain could end up underepresented in Brexit debates. The DUP are devout leavers, while Sinn Féin, of course, won’t be in the room.
Yep. And don’t believe SF claims that their reps are anywhere near the place. Their travel expenses demonstrate they will be doing nothing to pursue the Irish national interest with fellow British parliamentarians in London.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty