Last week this Almanac said whatever the result Teresa May had all ready lost the election. Last night and earlier this morning the voters showed this to be true. We now have a lame duck prime minister hanging on to power only with the help of the Democratic Unionist. A prediction – it will all end in tears.
The other losers were Rupert Murdoch, Barclay Brothers, Lord Rothermere, and Richmond Desmond. This merry band of offshore tax dodgers and foreign nationals acted as Teresa May’s attack dogs. Never has the popular press been so vindictive against one man. But Corbyn saw them off and kicked ass, as the yanks would say.
Indeed if a week is a long time in politics a day is even longer in the world of the tabloids. Yesterday her tabloid friends giving her resounding endorsements and predicting a coronation following a sweeping victory. Today they are calling in the undertakers and writing her political obituary.
Here’s a few sample of before and after polling day…
Yesterday: Lord Rothermere’s paper leads with Theresa May’s call to “reignite the British spirit” and a guide to “boost the Tories and Brexit”
Today: The Mail says May is clinging on to power after her election gamble “backfired disastrously”
Yesterday: Rupert Murdoch’s paper was hoping to claim again that it was the Sun that won it their deputy political editor even reported that the Tories were set to win 400 seats in the moments before the exit poll landed
Today: The Sun is forced to print a front-page photo of Corbyn celebrating and coins a new nickname for Tory election loser: Teresa Dismay.
Yesterday: The other Murdoch paper, the Times, led with a poll predicting a seven-point lead for the Tories
Today: They report that Corbyn had “plenty to celebrate” while May is “facing calls for her resignation”
According to a John Prescott tweet “Heard from very good source who was there that Rupert Murdoch stormed out of The Times Election Party after seeing the Exit Poll”
Yesterday: a Prime Ministerial photo of May in front of a placard hailing her “strong and stable leadership”
Today: The Telegraph says the result “puts Mrs. May’s premiership and Brexit plans in doubt”
Yesterday: Richard Desmond’s Brexit-mad Daily Express says the future of the country depends on a vote for Theresa May
Today: May’s fight to “cling on in Downing Street”
So how did the turnaround happen? How did May manage to loose a 20 to 30 point opinion poll lead in just over 7 weeks and indeed how did most of the polls get it so wrong. Apart from the obvious campaign mistakes and numerous u-turns that typified the Tory campaign their biggest mistake was to underestimate their opponent.
Corbyn’s young army of activists
Corbyn had a magnificent campaign coming over as an honest and decent politician and as the campaign went on voters warmed to him. Voters judged that man they were seeing on the tv news did not match up to the dangerous man that the tabloids had demonised. This pleasant mild mannered man belied the image that had been created by the press.
But perhaps Corbyn’s biggest contribution to last night’s success was that the two leadership contests that he fought. The contests brought in many new and energetic recruits that allowed Labour to mobilize an effective ground campaign.
The much-criticized Momentum organization mobilized 24,000 activists that targeted many marginal seats and exploited the social media in support of Labour’s overall campaign.
Momentum, the Labour organization set up to support Jeremy Corbyn, hailed the results as a success for a superior ground game and campaign techniques deployed for the first time.
The 24,000-strong organisation helped mobilize activists in targeting marginals and exploit social media in support of the overall Labour campaign.
While the tabloids were focusing on Corbyn, Labour was engaged in a largely unseen effort on the ground, using its large base of volunteers as a counter to the Conservatives’ higher spending.
During the election, Momentum developed a tool to help direct volunteers to the nearest marginals: the site attracted 100,000 unique users. That is 5 times more than Momentum’s actual size.
And what of Wales? Labour saw off the Tory threat and gained back the ground they lost last time winning back Cardiff North, Gower and the Vale of Clwyd. With Welsh Tories licking their wounds.
For the first time for over a hundred years there is not a Liberal (Democrat) representative in Parliament. Plaid Cymru were able to use this fig leaf of a gain in Ceredigion to hide what was a dreadful night for them. Questions will surely be asked about the direction and leadership of Leanne Wood and her party.
UKIP are all but destroyed as an effective force in Wales and in UK politics. Paul Nuttall has now quit as the party’s leader. Having succeeded in winning the referendum the voters see no purpose for them, they’ve passed their sell-buy date.
Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour will be quietly satisfied that branding themselves as Welsh Labour and fighting an almost separate campaign here in Wales was vindicated. It is the first election ever that Welsh Labour has been seen as semi-detached from UK Labour. And the results show that it worked.
A hung parliament means that Parliament becomes important again and the government will have to rule with humility. Not a bad result.
Finally could I thank all my various readers for their support over the years, but this is likely to be the last entry in this Almanac. Politics in the next few years will be exciting but demanding and I’m looking to be concentrating on other matters. Goodbye and again thanks.