The surprise of the 2015 General Election victory and Labour’s turmoil since imbued our readers with a sense of optimism about the outcome of the next general election. Corbyn’s election as Labour leader a year ago raised the share of our party members’ panel who anticipate another Conservative majority up to around the 90 per cent mark.
Understandably, trepidation about divisions over the EU saw that number fall back during the referendum campaign, bottoming out at 71 per cent in our June survey when the battle was reaching its height.
The numbers have since recovered: in our latest survey 91.5 per cent of party members who responded think that a Conservative majority is the most likely outcome of the next election. Of the remainder, 3.6 per cent opted for a minority Tory government, and 2.6 per cent for a Tory-led coalition.
None of the non-Conservative outcomes – Labour majority, Labour minority or Labour-led coalition government – even surpassed one per cent.
That’s quite a striking result. There were serious fears in some quarters about the prospect of the referendum ruining Tory electoral chances for years and bitterly dividing the party – that hasn’t come to pass, and most members think things are back on track.
When Corbynites claim that the Conservatives attack their man because we are scared of him, the Labour rebels could do worse than point to these numbers to disprove the idea. There could hardly be a more stark illustration of the fact that grassroots Tories do not see Corbyn as an electoral threat of any sort.
Of course, while this is our readers’ expectation of the outcome, events could yet prove you all wrong. Perhaps the numbers reflect a hard-headed analysis of the political reality on the ground, or perhaps we are at risk of hubris. Recent events should caution against tempting fate. After all, anything can happen – economic shocks, Brexit negotiations and the ups and downs of the Labour civil war could all conceivably throw up surprises which could change these expectations.