Alex Thomson, director at Hanover Communications, says Yes.
Politics is a bit like geology. For years it can appear that nothing is happening. But the tectonic plates are ever shifting under the surface, and finally things erupt. So while Labour may be facing a number of problems at the moment, including a fall in Jeremy Corbyn’s approval ratings among party members, and a leadership challenge, it is unwise to assume that anything is set in stone.
The last couple of weeks have shown that, when a political volcano blows, it can set off a chain reaction. If Labour unifies around a leader who has strong support from both MPs and members, and if Brexit results – as many economists believe – in some medium-term economic difficulties, Theresa May’s government (with its tiny majority) might find itself on a stickier wicket than even her hero Geoff Boycott would relish. If you throw in a second failed Scottish independence referendum, and the impact on the SNP, it is very possible that Labour could be back in power – if not outright, then in coalition – by 2025.
Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, says No.
General elections are rarely one-off events. It’s very unusual, at least in the UK, to see a political party which is trounced at one election bounce back in just one term. It can happen, but 1970 and 1997 are exceptions that prove the rule. After a heavy defeat, it normally takes the losing party one or two more goes to overhaul the winner.
The best-case scenario is that May calls a contest in 2017. This would mean another election in 2022, which would give Labour the chance to regain power in 2027. The only thing which is likely to change the odds is if Brexit proves to be an economic catastrophe and/or moderate Labour MPs form a successful new centre party. Neither is beyond the bounds of possibility. But don’t bet on either of them happening just yet.