At the start of this most unexpected (and unnecessary) of General Elections I mused on if a big majority for Theresa May would prove more of a hindrance than a help. Large majorities have – in recent decades at least – tended to breed large internal rebellions as Philip Cowley & Co have amply demonstrated.
Everyone expects the Tories to drop the MOAB (mother of all bombs) on Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell or “monstering” Corbyn in the final week, as Andrew Rawnsley put it at the weekend,
I have long speculated that the Tories have a warehouse-sized bucket of Corbynite baggage ready to dump in the final stages of an election. “Corbyn – the movie” would be the obvious vehicle – cobbling together all Jeremy’s Greatest Hits from 4 decades of hard left activism.
Rawnsley believes that Corbyn’s dubious past is already ‘factored in’ to the election and electorate. He may be right, but personally I think not fully and in any case it neither he nor I that matter, but what Team May’s strategists think.
The tightening of the opinion polls – and the probably rogue ones showing a neck and neck race – seem to make this all the more likely.
But here’s a dilemma for Team May. Win too big in a campaign focused negatively on Jeremy Corbyn and he’s all the more likely to be dumped by Labour – by fair means or foul. Win by a reasonable amount – say a majority of 50-60 seats – and there’s a strong chance JC will cling on which could prove a huge boon to May over the next 5 years.
So dumping on Jeremy in the final week is a double-edged sword. If it produces a landslide JC is probably a gonna and a new, more reasonable and difficult Labour opposition might emerge.
If it doesn’t produce a landslide JC may stay, but Theresa May then has problems managing her internal opponents who already sense this Election was an ill-conceived and ill-executed project.
And the worst case – if unlikely – scenario is that not “omenstering” Corbyn could even leave May back where she started the election.
So the question for whoever (Sir Lynton) has their finger on the trigger of the Jeremy-MOAB – is when or if to pull it? Tricky.