In these topsy-turvy times, a Tory landslide is not certain

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

A Conservative landslide on June 8?

It is a possibility. Some say it is a probability. And others even believe it is a racing certainty.

But I would caution anyone tempted to risk their life savings - or even part of them - on what they regard as “a racing certainty” to think long and hard before they lay any bets.

The simple fact is politics is in such a topsy-turvy, unpredictable state at the moment - not just in this country - that there can be no such thing as a safe bet.

For instance, whoever thought Jeremy Corbyn would win the Labour Party leadership, and then cement his position at a later challenge for the post? Even his foolish sponsors were shocked this happened.

And who really believed the referendum last June would produce a Brexit victory by a reasonably substantial majority? Or that Donald Trump would ever reach the White House?

Indeed, Corbyn has opened Labour’s campaign in ebullient style, saying he loves every minute of it. But he is not helped at all by the likes of Tony Blair, who appears to take every opportunity he can to denigrate Labour’s leader. Those at the top of Labour’s tree should tell him to shut up if he cannot be supportive.

The Prime Minister herself faces the inevitable criticism of having performed a U-turn in calling a snap election, after having said time and again there would be no election until 2020.

But she reached the conclusion that some of the Remainers - many of them in the House of Lords - were seriously hampering her negotiations with the EU over Brexit. She believes that a considerably bigger majority in the Commons will put a stop to spoiler tactics by those who seem unable to accept they lost the referendum.

Meanwhile Tim Farron, who leads an army of eight other Liberal Democrat MPs, claims the Tories are getting their “betrayals” in early.

What he means is, the Conservatives have already declined to issue magnanimous promises about taxation levels and pensions, for example, very early in the campaign, in the hope that by the time polling day arrives, they will be forgotten about. Farron is probably right in that assumption.

So, it is up to the opposition parties to keep banging on about these issues throughout the campaign to frustrate the Tories’ hope that people will not remember them.

• Whatever will award-winning actress Glenda Jackson think? For years, until the last general election, she was a firebrand left-wing Labour MP, a regular source of trouble for whichever party was in power.

Now she has learnt the unthinkable: namely that her son Dan Hodges, a political pundit who, until now, has voted Labour at every opportunity, is going to vote Tory this time!

He said: “I have voted Labour in every general election since 1987. In five of those campaigns I worked for the party. But on June 8, I will be voting for Mrs May.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour does not wish to reflect the aspirations of the people. It merely wants to sponge off them.” And he added for good measure: “There has not been an election campaign in my lifetime where a major political party has treated the electorate with such contempt.”

Strong stuff. I would not be surprised if Glenda is reaching for the smelling salts.

• At least two popular ex-Cabinet ministers have announced they are leaving Parliament and not contesting the general election.

One of them is the burly, cheerful Sir Eric Pickles, who was Tory Communities Secretary for a while. This bluff Yorkshireman was always cheerful, even in the most difficult situations and was generally popular throughout the Commons.

The other is former Labour Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, who is no less genial. If he had shown the slightest interest in leading the Labour Party, I think he would have “walked it”. If that had happened, I think Labour would today be in a much happier place.

But he was content to remain on the back-benches when Labour went into opposition, although he had a brief spell as shadow Chancellor, a post he voluntarily gave up.

Neither of them had the slightest degree of malice about them, and both of them will be sorely missed at Westminster.

• Will he, won’t he? The question relates to David Miliband, who so nearly became Labour leader after the 2010 general election, only to be pipped at the post by his brother Ed.

At the time of writing, there was still no answer to this question. David Miliband, after his leadership defeat, quit Parliament and took a job with a charity in the United States.

Now Labourites are wondering whether D Miliband, once the leadership favourite candidate, will return like a knight in shining armour, to give the party the boost it so urgently needs.

But it seems he is still considering his options. In other words, he cannot make up his mind.

Even if Labour lose, there is no guarantee Corbyn will bow out. Why should he? The left-wing have got their claws on the party, so why should they give up voluntarily? So Miliband’s future would be in considerable doubt if he quit the US and returned to these shores.

But one person who has decided not to return to the Westminster fold is former Labour Chancellor Ed Balls. He is plainly finding life outside the Westminster bubble too attractive to readily give up. Who can blame him?

• Some of those who have been complaining that May had no mandate to be Prime Minister have now been complaining that she is holding a snap election. If she wins, she will have satisfied their complaint.

So what are they bleating about?