Socialist Worker

Tories could force out Theresa May as support in opinion polls plummets

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2654

Theresa May - still under pressure to resign

Theresa May - still under pressure to resign (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)


Tory support at the European parliament elections—and a possible general election—is collapsing.

Three opinion polls have shown the Tories on between 10 percent and 13 percent, with the Brexit Party far ahead.

In one poll they were fifth, behind the Brexit Party, Labour, Lib Dems and the Green Party.

Polls may be more than usually unreliable for an election where many people will not see the point of voting, and positions can fluctuate wildly.

But there’s little doubt the Tories are facing near wipeout. The party plans to spend no money on candidate campaigning, will not publish a manifesto and is refusing to hold a launch.

One of the Tory candidates for the European Parliament elections described the mood on the campaign trail as “absolutely terrible”.

They added, “If May stands aside this week there may be something for her successor to salvage. If not, we are looking at the end of the Conservative Party.”

Surveys suggest around three in five Tory members are planning to vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

Prospects

The rot is so deep it is flowing into the Tories’ prospects at a general election. A number of polls showed Labour first, Brexit second and the Tories third.

May was set to meet the executive of the Tories’ 1922 committee of backbench MPs on Thursday this week. She was expected to face fresh pressure to name a departure date.

If May does not set out a clear timetable for when she will go, the committee may look for ways to force her out. It could seek to change its rulebook to allow MPs to force a Tory leadership election sooner than the current permitted date of 12 December.

And on 15 June she faces an unprecedented meeting of the National Conservative Convention to discuss her future. This gathering of party officials and members will discuss a no-confidence votethough it is non-binding.

It is the first such meeting of the party’s local reps in the Tories’ 185-year history.

It was reportedly delayed from the beginning of the month so that May wouldn’t be embarrassed ahead of Donald Trump’s visit.

But the Tories’ problems won’t disappear when May goes. They are unpopular over Brexit but also because they have presided over nearly a decade of policies that have savaged ordinary people.

The issue—and the challenge for the whole of the left—is who will gain as May's government teeters on the verge of collapse.


Lib Dems work with the right to boot out Labour

The Liberal Democrats are making dirty deals to remove Labour from control of councils in two of its traditionally stronghold areas.

Such moves should explode any lingering ideas that the Lib Dems are progressive.

They suggest that Lib Dem leaders would make another national coalition with the Tories if they thought it was in their interests, as they did in 2010.

Labour lost seats in both Bolton and Darlington at the recent elections, raising the issue of which party would now be leaders.

In Bolton, The Lib Dems are working with the racist Ukip party and independents to enable the Tories to take over.

The Labour group said, “Labour is still the largest party on Bolton council, but minor parties have chosen to support Conservative power in our borough despite the Conservative Party obtaining fewer votes than Labour.”

In Darlington, the Lib Dems and a group of independents are set to allow the Tories to take control of the council. The Greens called for an administration run by all parties.

Meanwhile Jimmy Kent, chair of the Lib Dems’ Kingston-Upon-Thames constituency party, has defected to the Brexit Party. The Lib Dems are acting disgracefully.

But Labour has opened the door to the right wing.

Themes of the hypocritical Tory campaign in Darlington were the state of the town centre and the council’s decision to outsource litter enforcement to a private company.


SNP could boost the bigots 

The Scottish National Party is leading strongly in opinion polls—by tying itself completely to the European Union (EU).

One recent poll put the SNP at 40 percent, Labour at 14 percent and the Tories at 10 percent.

That suggests the Tories will struggle to hold their sole European seat and Labour looks set to lose one of its two MEPs.

Launching the SNP campaign, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said voting SNP would send the message “that Scotland is for Europe”.

By polarising the election exclusively on Remain or Leave, the SNP is pushing some voters into the arms of racists.

The same poll that showed the SNP’s lead also found that the Brexit Party was on 13 percent, even though it had only just begun campaigning in Scotland.

Farage’s group could become the focus if other forces are purely ­pro-EU rather than taking up wider class issues.

Labour’s campaign has been lacklustre. And it hasn’t been helped by right winger Ian Murray, its longest-serving Scottish MP, saying the party is full of “thugs and incompetents”.

Murray made the criticism in a leaked WhatsApp message after his ally Kezia Dugdale announced she was quitting the Scottish parliament.


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