They're riding low in the polls without the cash or activists to fight an election,
One obvious way to resolve the Brexit deadlock is for Theresa May to call a general election – but she won’t do it because her party is terrified they will lose.
How do we know they’re terrified? For starters, because they keep saying so.
Former leader William Hague said in a Telegraph column today that the party’s situation was as bad as it was when he took over the party in 1997. He wrote:
“The Conservative Party, I sense, is in danger of losing the support of hopeful young people with ambitions, and it cannot win elections without such people.”
Another Tory of Hague’s era, David Davis, told the Today Show an election was “unwise”, adding that Theresa May is “not a good campaigner”.
Tory Peer Robert Hayward, who is described by the Guardian as an election expert warned:
“The prime minister has been given the message loud and clear that there should not be an election. If you are a Conservative MP with anything other than a massive majority, you do not want one.”
For a warning that snap elections can lose Tory MPs their seats, Theresa May does not have to look far.
Her Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell, the author of a book called ‘how to win a marginal seat’, lost his marginal seat in Croydon at the last election.
So why are they all so worried? Because of polling. A DeltaPoll poll conducted last Thursday to Saturday showed Labour five points ahead.
Removing the leader is no quick fix for the Tories. The same poll found that even if Theresa May was removed, Labour would still be four points ahead.
The Independent Group aren’t necessarily going to come to the Tories’ rescue either.
Even when reminded they exist by the pollster, and assuming they stand candidates in every seat, the poll suggested Labour would still be three points ahead.
This is the public polling. According to ITV’s Robert Peston, The Tories will also be doing private polling – which is being shown to Cabinet today.
If there’s still no election called this week, we will know that the private polling was no better than the public polls.
Of course, the polls can change during an election campaign. For them to change in your direction though, it’s helpful to have two things – activists to knock on doors and money.
On activists, the Conservatives are struggling and have been for decades. While Labour has over half a million members, the Conservative Party has about 124,000 – less than a quarter of Labour’s numbers.
On money, while Labour has been supported by trade unions and their members, the Conservatives have always been backed by big business and rich individuals.
Now though, the i newspaper has cited insiders who say that the party is in a “cash crisis” because donors are angry at the Brexit chaos. Boris Johnson reportedly saying “fuck business” probably didn’t help.
So riding low in the polls, and without the cash or people to fight their best election campaign, it’s easy to understand why the Tories are terrified of this way out of the Brexit deadlock.
Joe Lo is a reporter for Left Foot Forward
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