Hereditas Historiae

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The Daily Telegraph  (Editorial Comment) – 9 June 2017  



Election gamble has ended in chaos   

'At the start of this election, Theresa May described Britain's choice as between "strong and stable" and a coalition of chaos. It looks as if her election gamble has ended in chaos. The result is close, but one thing is clear: her request for a large majority with which to negotiate Brexit has been rejected.

Almost everything has gone wrong. The Tories assumed that the Ukip vote would collapse and the vast majority of it go Conservative. That has not uniformly been the case. The relentless focus on the North now looks mistaken: the Tories turned away from the South, guessing it was in the bag, and it's there that they might be hurt the most.  

They made a huge mistake swinging to the Left on economics. Unless Conservatives make the case for free markets and lower taxes, they cede the argument to Labour and make it easier for socialism to win. The manifesto did not explain to people how Brexit and Tory economics could make them richer. A rare opportunity was missed.  

Mrs May's team assumed they could count on the old, but the manifesto policy on social care could have scared them off. They presumed the young would stay at home; instead they might have come out in droves. They relied heavily on attacks levelled at Jeremy Corbyn, which may actually have backfired. And they fell back on a tightly­controlled presidential-style campaign that was supposed to show off the best of the Prime Minister. The results speak for themselves.  

Of course, the Conservatives are not the only ones who will be surprised by this outcome. Few polls predicted it; most pundits were caught unawares. And Labour itself was divided over Mr Corbyn's leadership, which was characterised by scandal and error. That Mr Corbyn succeeded in spite of all of this suggests that Labour's brand remains strong. But blame must also accrue to the Tory campaign. That the most controversial Labour leader in history could do so well reflects badly on the Prime Minister.  

This was the election that was supposed to settle everything, to give the Tories a majority they could work with while they negotiated with Europe. The election has done the opposite. It has left the country divided in new ways, along cleavages of class and region. It has weakened the Prime Minister. It has strengthened the hand of a radical socialist Labour leader. Mrs May's gamble has totally failed.'