A good by-election result will also reinforce her BREXIT strategy
It is not TMay’s fault that she ended up as CON leader and PM without having to go through a membership ballot. Once Andrea Leadsom pulled out on that memorable Monday morning there was no further obstacle and she was assured of the leadership and the keys of Number 10.
She just avoided several weeks of hustings, TV debates and campaigning which would allowed a much greater scrutiny of her ideas and plans and, at the same time, made her a better campaigner. I always thought that Gordon Brown missed a lot by his 2007 coronation and that he would have been a better campaigner at the general election if he’d had to undergo a proper leadership fight. I’d argue that Corbyn’s political skills have been enhanced by having to go through a second leadership election.
But we are where we are and we are seeing increasing use of terms like “the unelected PM”.
Although she’s had a polling honeymoon this hasn’t been echoed in local elections where her party has lost the equivalent of a third of the seats its defended since TMay took the helm. But local elections are just that local elections. While as Ralling & Thrasher over the years have shown they can be a pointer TMay needs to prove herself in a more substantial electoral test.
Postal voting starts later this week in Witney in the Westminster by-election to fill the vacancy created by Cameron decision to quit parliament. UKIP, LAB and the LDs are fighting hard though facing a CON majority at GE2015 of 43% it is a big ask for any of the opposition parties.
Just as last year’s Oldham by-election increased LAB majority reinforced Corbyn’s position the same is even more so of Witney. At the EURef the area voted REMAIN and no doubt the outcome will also be interpreted as being a judgement on the PM’s BREXIT strategy. The Tories have to win Witney and win big.
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