Before Labour started to catch up with her in the polls, it seemed Theresa May could have it both ways.
The Financial Times argued that her “Global Britain” vision, of free trade and friendship with the rest of the world, was at odds with cutting immigration to an arbitrary tens of thousands and pushing for a “hard” Brexit.
Yet voters seemed to like it. One poll had the Conservatives at nearly 50 percent support. Labour was down to 25 percent as recently as four weeks ago.
Britain’s Labour Party has narrowed the gap with the ruling Conservatives in the polls, going up from an average of 25 percent support when Prime Minister Theresa May called an election last month to nearly 35 percent.
Support for May’s Conservatives hasn’t come down from 45 percent. They are still expected to prevail, but with a smaller majority than seemed likely a few weeks ago.
I don’t disagree with a word in Dan Hodges’ latest column about the Labour leadership contest. Owen Smith, the Welshman who has challenged Jeremy Corbyn, is running a shambolic campaign, veering to the far left on issues of health care and security when his record suggests he is more of a centrist.
Mainstream Labour politicians in the United Kingdom and sensible Republicans in the United States have adopted the same strategy to cope with the attempted hostile takeovers of their parties: wait out the insurgency and hope that things return to normal after what can only be a crushing defeat for Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump, respectively.
There is of course little the far-left Corbyn and the right-wing nationalist Trump have in common, except that they are each remarking their parties in their own image.
Now that Angela Eagle has dropped out of the Labour leadership contest, it is up to little-known Owen Smith to topple Jeremy Corbyn and rehabilitate Britain’s second party in the eyes of centrist voters.
Both — defeating Corbyn, restoring Labour’s electability — are daunting tasks. Smith has the support of most of his parliamentary colleagues, but Corbyn commands the loyalty of left-wing activists and most trade unions. There is a good chance the leftwinger will prevail even if the whole of moderate Labour throws its support behind Smith.
It’s perhaps little wonder then that ambitious Labourites are sitting this one out. To challenge Corbyn and lose might be career-ending.
But if the stakes really are as high as they say — there have been warnings that Corbyn’s far-left policies and divisive leadership style could “destroy” Labour — how brave is it of them to put this fight for the soul of the party entirely on the shoulders of Owen Smith? Read more “Why Aren’t Serious Labour Candidates Standing Up?”
A formal split in Britain’s Labour Party has become more likely after its executive committee decided on Wednesday that Jeremy Corbyn would automatically stand for the leadership, despite lacking support from lawmakers, and Owen Smith launched a leadership bid of his own.
The parliamentarian from Wales, who resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet last month along with dozens of other frontbenchers, will need the support of 51 of his colleagues to be eligible.
Angela Eagle, a lawmaker from the soft left of the party, already appears to have the support needed to challenge Corbyn.