It is extraordinary to reflect that just a week ago this morning all looked set for a certain CON victory with the betting being on a majority of about 80 seats. Everything seemed set for TMay win a workable Commons majority and a victory in her own right.
The polls were almost united in their view and the only clouds on the horizon were the then discredited YouGov model and Survation’s numbers which were dismissed as an outlier.
It appeared that the Lynton Crosby lines on “strong and stable” government and the risk of a “coalition of chaos” had resonated and once again the Aussie campaign manager was about to chalk up another success.
For SIR Lynton has seen enough numbers and elections to know that competence and certainty are things that matter enormously as people come to cast their vote. The same themes had worked at GE15 and it was going to work again.
This is why, a week on, the current situation is so dangerous for the Tories. Once a perception of competence is lost it could be mighty difficult to win back.
All this is epitomised in the timing of the Queen’s Speech which has become central to TMay’s effort to secure a deal that will ensure that the DUP’s 10 MPs go into the division lobbies with the Tories to ensure that the minority government surmounts its first hurdle.
For as long as this government survives every Commons vote is going to be on a knife edge. This is all so reminiscent of the 1974-79 Labour government where Harold Wilson and then Jim Callaghan had at least started with a theoretical majority in the October 1974 election. The Labour brand was so trashed during that period that it was 18 years after GE1979 before it was returned to power again.