Amidst all the claims of May and the Tories sweeping the country, the Guardian editorial points out that “the main parties of the right ( the Conservatives and UKIP) have broadly the same level of support across the UK, 43%, as the main parties of the left ( Labour and Liberal Democrats on 45% )”. And on top of that there is support for the Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP which, if we leave aside the National question, are social democrat in outlook. The turnout seems to have been just under 30% in the mayoral elections. I haven’t yet seen a report on overall turnout. So the country has not changed in its broad balance of opinion. It is our outrageous voting system and the state of the Labour Party that explains the result, not a great sweep to the right in public opinion.
We have been here before. The Thatcher elections of ’79 then ’83 and’ 87 swept all before her. And Labour’s defeat under Michael Foot’s leadership in ’83 was devastatingly bad. But this led to the Tories becoming bitterly divided on Europe, poll tax riots and the Tories being known as the nasty party. And of course to Labour’s great victory in 97 followed by 2001 and 2005.
This is not to say that there isn’t a danger of a massive Tory majority in the general election – after 7 years of austerity, leading to more austerity and a hard Brexit with damaging consequences for a lot of people. But it is important not to despair and if possible to persuade people to turnout and vote in the General Election.