Shortly there will be an election, in which the Tories will win a majority
Despite all the light and heat generated with recent polling, I still expect the Tories to win a majority, unless Nick Timothy decides to add another Nimitz class sized barnacle to the Tory boat between now and June 8th
The Tories still lead in the polls, the leadership and economic polling also favour the blue team, but the size of the majority will determine how her government can and will operate for the next five years, and will also determine when Mrs May will depart as Prime Minister and will it be at a time of her own choosing. So I’m going to look at what different sized majorities might mean for, inter alia, Mrs May, the Tory Party. the country, and of course Brexit.
A majority of 0-24 seats
This would be frankly embarrassing for Mrs May, given her opponent, the size of the leads she and the party enjoyed at the start of the general election campaign. It would be the nemesis that follows the hubris of trying to take the seats of Tom Watson, Richard Burgon, Dennis Skinner, Tim Farron, Angus Robertson, and Pete Wishart and to end up with a majority similar or smaller than David Cameron achieved in 2015.
As the climb down on national insurance increases and the unprecedented u-turn on her manifesto, Mrs May isn’t strong and stable, but weak and wobbly, this does not bodes well for her Brexit negotiations or for her to pursue any radical reform during the next parliament.
As we saw when with the proposed changes to family tax credits and national insurance, a majority of this size is no majority at all.
She will become a very diminished figure, trashing her reputation, a bad Brexit outcome and Labour consistently leading in the polls would mean she’s ditched as leader, because unlike the Labour party, the Tory party don’t fanny about when it comes to toppling their leaders. She maybe also forced out by the most passionate Leavers who want a hard Brexit whilst Mrs May tries to be pragmatic with a softer Brexit.
I would expect her to be forced out within 18 months if this result happens.
A majority of 26-50 seats
This would be a tepid result for Mrs May, as the old adage goes, success equals performance minus anticipation, the anticipation when she called the election was the Tories would absolutely shellack Labour back into 1983 result or a 1997 in reverse result.
Like winning a majority of 24 seats it will feel a bit of an anti-climax, but the closer to 50 the majority, the safer she will feel, but consistent Labour poll leads will probably see her forced out in around three or four years. I’d expect a lot of Tory rebellions over the social care changes and resistance from the free market Thatcherite wing if she tries to introduce her Ed Miliband lite policies on energy prices and racial pay audits.
A majority of 52-98 seats
An 80 seat majority is what Tory MPs reportedly consider as par, this is the sort of result that should make governing easy for Mrs May, it would take a substantial rebellion for her to lose any votes in the Commons and see off the awkward squad that every Prime Minister has to deal with. It allows her to get rid of poorly performing ministers without having to worry about them causing trouble on the back benches. It does give her some scope for being bold and radical.
A majority of 100-198 seats
Now we’re in landslide territory, not only will Mrs May become unassailable she’ll have a majority to be radical in all things from Brexit to social care and all things in between like involving the government in energy prices.
Mayism will be a word that will soon be added to the OED, as she is spoken in the same breath as Thatcher and Blair, majorities of this magnitude lead the PM to be bold. It also means Mrs May can say she’s a bona fide election winner when difficult times come up during the next Parliament, again she will be safe and secure as Tory Leader during the next Parliament.
A majority of 200 seats or more
Now a 200 seat majority is the ceiling/best case scenario for many in the Tory party, if she achieves it, she might well claim to be, with some justification, the Tory party’s most electorally successful leader since Stanley Baldwin and his 324 seat majority in 1931, even outdoing Margaret Thatcher in scorching socialism from the face of the Earth. I do not expect this outcome, and merely add it for the sake of completeness.
PS – If the Tories fail to win a majority, I will accept this is my Sion Simon moment