Theresa May was so busy planning her general election surprise, she missed its major flaw

may GE2017
Tracy Keeling

Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a general election on 8 June. And commentators suspect May has called the election because the Conservative Party is currently doing well in the polls.

But there’s one detail in the polls that has apparently escaped the Prime Minister’s notice. And it shows that a Conservative Party win at the 2017 election is by no means a sure thing.

ComRes poll

The Independent and The Sunday Mirror commissioned a poll by ComRes over Easter. And while the survey gives the Conservative Party a 21-point lead over Labour (another poll gives it a nine-point lead), it also found massive support for the latter’s latest policies.

Since parliament broke for the Easter recess, the Labour Party has announced numerous policies. They include a £10 per week increase in support for carers, which Labour will pay for by reversing an inheritance tax cut announced by the government in 2015; giving free school meals to primary school children, which the party will fund by introducing VAT on private school education; and raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour by 2020.

Of those polled, 71% supported the rise in the minimum wage. And 53% agreed that primary school children should have free school meals. ComRes also asked the public about Labour’s plan to raise the top rate of tax from 45p to 50p for those earning over £150,000. 62% supported this change.

What the people want

May’s general election announcement focused almost entirely on Brexit. She asserted that the election was necessary in order to quash parliamentary criticism of her party’s vision for Britain exiting the EU. But the upcoming election is not simply an EU referendum ballot, mark two. It’s a vote on who the country wants to govern overall, both in terms of Brexit and general domestic policy.

The domestic policies that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has come up with are clearly popular with those that ComRes surveyed. And the Labour leader told The Independent why he believes they resonate:

Our policies are popular because to most people it’s common sense that our government should act in the interests of the overwhelming majority and that will mean taking on the powerful.

In contrast, the Conservative Party has alienated swathes of the population with its policy choices over the last seven years. The list is long: teachers, doctors, nurses, parents, young people, disabled people, and more. Plus those who do not want the Tories’ hard Brexit.

So May might be optimistic enough about her party’s poll results to call a general election. But a Tory win is not a sure thing. Because policy matters. And this poll suggests that, if people vote based on their policy preferences, May’s general election gamble might not pay off.

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Featured image via DFID/Flickr

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