GE17 saw the emergence of a new type of “shy Tory” – those opposed to Corbyn but didn’t want a big CON win

GE17 saw the emergence of a new type of “shy Tory” – those opposed to Corbyn but didn’t want a big CON win

One of the features of living in a super LAB-CON marginal less than an hour from London that regularly changes hands is that you get a lot of attention at general elections. Corbyn’s first big outside visit after the election was called in April was to Bedford which was a regular port of call by David Cameron and earlier LAB leaders at GE10 and GE15.

So what was striking about TMay’s GE17 campaign is that it was almost invisible here until the final few days and we were not graced with a visit from the leader herself even though the CON incumbent had a majority of just over 1k. My guess is the the seat was seen seen as a certain CON hold right from the start and the PM could focus her attention on Labour’s heartlands where, if some of the polling was correct, she was well placed to make serious inroads.

That this didn’t happen both a PM visit and that the Tories actually lost seats like Bedford was one of the remarkable features of the campaign. This was a massive shock.

Nobody really knows what actually happened and why a party with double digit leads right to the end fared so badly. There’s going to be a lot coming out in the next weeks and months which might illuminate us.

A really interesting analysis is by Ed Smith in today’s issue of the New Statesman in which, amongst many things, he writes about CON Remain supports who, while opposed to Corbyn, didn’t want TMay to get her landslide.

“..When the election was called, initially it seemed like another pragmatic masterstroke; the Tory party, which understands power better than any other party in the world, was doing what it does best: reorganising itself to benefit from the new political reality. Yet there was a different kind of shy Tory during this election: not the shy Tory who doesn’t want to own up to Toryism, but the shy Tory who sought a modest win. Many Conservative supporters I know wanted May to win the election but not too handsomely. They feared a landslide would lead to a resurgent Europhobic Tory right. Far from the original spin that the election was needed to create a bulwark against the hard Brexiteers, Tory-Remain voters feared the opposite. And when lots of your own potential supporters don’t want a big win, you scarcely win at all..”

Quite how these shy Tories voted I don’t know. My guess is that some abstained and that some others actually voted Labour.

Mike Smithson

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