PM unlikely to face such favourable poll conditions as now

Morning View
Morning View

The temptation to hold a snap general election must be very great for Theresa May.

The prime minister is unlikely ever again to have the commanding lead in the opinion polls that she has now.

It is hard to envisage the Conservative Party facing a less effective opposition than it does now under Jeremy Corbyn.

There is little appetite for his political leadership among the public at large, even though he has struck a chord with a large swathe of people who are prepared to consider a radical alternative to conventional politics.

The latest ICM poll for the Guardian newspaper has Mrs May’s party so far out in front of Labour that in the 34-year history of those surveys the Tories have only been this far in front on three previous occasions. Such moments do not last.

The disarray in Labour will come to an end at some point, as will Mr Corbyn’s leadership. The Brexit negotiations are almost certain to lead to periods of great difficulty for Mrs May.

Holding a general election would not have been straightforward, although pundits think she could have secured the two-thirds of MPs needed to overturn the fixed five-year term.

But Downing Street has ruled out an early election. While it might be the biggest political mistake she ever makes, a snap poll would have had risks, as Chris Moncrieff mentions in his weekly column.

Western electorates have rarely been as volatile as now.

The decision not to have a contest is good for the DUP, which would lose its influence at Westminster if Mrs May returned with a huge majority. That party should capitalise on the anger there is among backbenchers at the prosecution of soldiers.

Mainland politicians whose eyes would once have glazed over at mention of a ‘legacy imbalance’ in Northern Ireland might now be receptive to an explanation as to how such an imbalance flows from the endless compromises that unionists have been forced to make with terrorism.

And Mrs May’s own record of attention to detail suggests that, whatever her cautious public utterances on the Province, she will be keen to know what is really happening here.