With seven days to go until a general election called in expectation of a landslide Conservative victory, Theresa May is suddenly facing the prospect of an extraordinary reversal.
Two weeks ago, polls consistently put her 20 points ahead of the opposition Labour Party, but if a week is a long time in politics, the past fortnight has felt like an age.
Prime Minister May’s ratings have plunged, while support for Labour has steadily climbed. Bold reforms to funding seniors’ care–shifting the financial onus onto the individual–have prompted a backlash from over-65s, hitherto the most reliable Tory electoral bloc. Mrs. May’s campaign slogan, ‘Strong and stable’, has not survived the Manchester terrorist attack, which has left the country insecure and introspective. The effect has been akin to that of the Madrid train bombings on the 2004 Spanish election; 53 percent of voters agree with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that UK military actions overseas are responsible for terror attacks.
In short, Britain is having a jolly old wobble. What makes it all the more remarkable is the nature of Mrs. May’s opposition: Jeremy Corbyn is by common consent the most left-wing leader in the history of the Labour Party, elected by new grassroots members over the objections of his parliamentary caucus. He positioned himself as the repudiation of New Labour, Tony Blair’s moderate makeover that delivered Labour three election victories after two decades in opposition.