After an enormous victory in local elections, should the Tories fear voter complacency in the General?

Theresa May Campaigns In Brentford As Local Elections Show Conservative Gains
Conservatives are concerned voters won't see Corbyn as having a realistic chance of winning (Source: Getty)

Alex Deane, a Conservative commentator, says Yes.

Only Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn can be Prime Minister on 8 June, and it is foolish in any binary contest to dismiss the possibility regarded by pollsters as unlikely – just ask “no way she can lose” Hillary Clinton and the “bound to win” Britain Stronger in Europe campaign.

So the Conservative Party must fight as if it’s close, even if it isn’t. Of course, whether one’s judging by the polls or the General Election results or the number of times Diane Abbott puts her foot in her mouth, it looks like a cinch for the Tories, but that points precisely to the biggest problem for the Conservatives right now – the challenge of getting one’s vote out when supporters think they needn’t bother, as they are convinced that it will be a walkover anyway.

For Prime Minister Theresa May, captain of an electoral battleship now in full sail, complacency is a far more convincing enemy than Jeremy Corbyn.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, says No.

If your team is 3-0 up at half-time, then you can be fairly confident that you’re going to pull off an easy win. But even so, you need to guard against complacency. Remember the 2005 Champions League final, when the mighty AC Milan, in exactly that position, allowed Liverpool to come back and, after extra time and penalties, win the trophy?

But if you’re 3-0 up with only a couple of minutes of added time left on the clock, then it’s a different ball game.

All you need to do is shut up shop, keep possession, and wait for the whistle. That’s the position Conservatives are in right now. The locals don’t constitute a sure-fire prediction of a Tory landslide on 8 June, but they do suggest that the huge poll lead they’ve built up over Labour is real. Sure, turnout might be low in a few weeks’ time, but that is unlikely to do Theresa May much harm. And she’s not the type, anyway, to leave anything to chance.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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