Brexit loyalties will play a key role in the next general election

The Conservatives learned the right lessons from Labour’s near-win in 2017, writes John Rentoul, but who will learn the lessons of the last election for next time?

Thursday 25 November 2021 17:04
<p>The Tories got their messaging right in 2019 </p>

The Tories got their messaging right in 2019

The 2017 election taught Labour how to lose and the Conservatives how to win. So said Robert Ford, professor of politics at the University of Manchester and the lead author of the definitive study of the 2019 election, at the launch of the book last night.

By which he meant that Labour surprised itself and everyone else by coming so close in the 2017 election that it foolishly thought it had to do the same but more so next time. Hence the even more overloaded and implausible manifesto shopping list, the facing both ways on Brexit, and the letting Jeremy Corbyn have a second go.

The Tories, on the other hand, learned what not to do. The inner-party slogan for the 2019 campaign was: “What we did in 2017? Don’t do that.” They got themselves a leader who enjoyed campaigning; they had an election for a reason that the voters agreed with (“Get Brexit Done” rather than “Give me a bigger majority to deal with some distant threat to getting Brexit done”); they promised more spending on public services; and they didn’t propose a dementia tax.

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