The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 26th May 2017

Tory poll lead halved in a week

by Daphne Liddle

OPINION polls have reported that the Conservative lead over Labour has halved within a week to single figures — and in Wales Labour seems to be in the lead. It is a reminder that just two years ago Jeremy Corbyn started as a 200-to-one outsider in the Labour leadership contest but went on to win with an overwhelming majority.

Another encouraging sign is the news that around two-and-a-half million people — mainly young — have registered to vote and are most likely to be voting Labour.

Meanwhile Theresa May’s campaigning seems to go from bad to worse — being forced in to a retreat on her proposed plan to make the elderly pay for care by mortgaging their homes — dubbed the ‘dementia tax’ — and threatening to end the triple lock on pensions and to make the winter fuel allowance means tested, meaning that only the poorest pensioners will get it and they will have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get it.

She has failed to guarantee the future of the NHS but asserted that the punitive austerity policies with their savage cuts will continue even more harshly.

Some conspiracy theorists have wondered if May is deliberately trying to lose the election because the economy and the Brexit negotiations are in such a terrible state that she does not really want to remain in office but would prefer to be in opposition criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts to straighten things out.

In the unlikely event that this is true, it would be a big mistake on her part because his policies of taxing the rich are the only policy that will work.

An American political commentator has noticed that the Tories have focused their public relations budget almost entirely on Prime Minister Theresa May. It is almost as if it were a presidential, not a parliamentary, contest. You would be forgiven for thinking that she did not have a cabinet, so seldom do any of its members appear in any media.

Some leading Tories have been silenced entirely, such as the unpopular health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, whose running battles with junior doctors in the NHS last year were judged to be bad for the brand.

And the May campaign used the same ‘battle-bus’ as that used in last year’s Remain campaign for the Brexit referendum — it had been resprayed blue but the number plate was the same.

Theresa May’s response to the Manchester bombing has been to declare: “Today let us remember those who died and let us celebrate those who helped, safe in the knowledge that the terrorists will never win and our values, our country and our way of life will always prevail.”

At the same time she claimed that the threat of another attack was very high and deployed armed troops on to the streets all over Britain — quite contrary to our normal way of life, especially in the run-up to a general election.

The chair of the Police Federation called on the Government to “learn the lessons” from recent terror attacks and properly resource the police — it was Theresa May as Home Secretary a couple of years ago who reduced police numbers drastically throughout the country.

Steve White, a police officer for 28 years, made the plea after Theresa May deployed soldiers to the streets in the wake of the Manchester bombing in order to free up police resources.

He said the decision was “deeply worrying” when the announcement was made and added this morning that the Government should instead give the police the resources to do their job.

The suspension of political campaigning for a few days, as a mark of respect after the Manchester bombing, is likely to work in Theresa May’s favour — it will keep her out of the public eye and prevent any new gaffes, and it will interrupt Labour’s more successful campaigning.

But just before the bombing Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell opted to bring forward their pledge to abolish student tuition fees to be implemented if Labour wins the election.

So from a discouraging start it seems that Labour’s prospects in this election are rising but nothing is guaranteed — it is all to be fought for.