Polling companies have taken a bit of kicking in recent times, after failing to predict the outcome of several major political events.
The Conservative majority in 2015 was unexpected, as was last year’s vote to leave the European Union. Across the pond, the shock election of Donald Trump as US President also defied opinion polls.
While these outcomes came as a major blow to polling companies, the degree of their errors was not so great that we should now ignore all their findings. The polls were tight between David Cameron and Ed Miliband, as they were between Leave and Remain (indeed, a week before the referendum, some trackers put Leave ahead).
The race for the White House proved to be a bigger surprise; but even then, a BBC poll-of-polls put Trump (44 per cent) just four points behind Hillary Clinton (48 per cent) as Americans prepared to cast their ballots. The popular vote ended up with Clinton on 48 per cent, and Trump on 46 per cent.
All of this makes the sheer gulf currently found between the UK’s two top parties somewhat astonishing. Number 10 Downing Street has housed a Conservative PM for seven years, and we were in the mid-term period of a Tory-led parliament until Theresa May announced the snap election last week. Historically, these two factors should be a massive boon to Labour, yet the polls paint a different picture.
Most polls in the last five days have given the Tories a 20+ point lead. The results span research firms such as Ipsos MORI (23 points), ICM (21-22 points), YouGov (23 points) and ComRes (25 points).
These eye-watering figures highlight the paucity of opposition that exists in Britain, and should be cause for a counter-revolution in the Labour party. Those on the Corbynite far-left, however, refuse to pull their heads from the sand, with activists convincing themselves that they can defy all odds. Some have taken to quoting Dennis Skinner who, when asked in 2015 if Corbyn could become PM, said: "I remember that way back in 1945, nobody countenanced the idea that Clem Attlee would be a Prime Minister". Skinner’s comparison is characteristically bizarre, given that Labour enjoyed a 20-point lead in the polls at the start of 1945.
Come 9 June, Corbyn's backers will cry foul, and they will cry conspiracy. They will find a way of blaming everyone but themselves. Meanwhile, Prime Minister May will step back into Number 10 looking forward to five years of undisturbed Conservative rule.