Jeremy Corbyn is taking Labour ever further away from its traditional working class voters in the north and the midlands. As I say in The Sun today, the party now has a leader who didn’t sing the national anthem at St Paul’s, a shadow Chancellor who has praised the IRA, a shadow Home Secretary who thinks promising ‘controls on immigration’ is shameful and a shadow Foreign Secretary who sneers at those who fly the English flag.
This presents Ukip with an open goal and a chance to do to Labour in the north and the midlands what the SNP did to in Scotland following the independence referendum. Indeed, half of Labour supporters who backed Brexit already say they won’t vote for the party again.
But Ukip are too busy fighting with each other to take advantage of this opportunity. This raises the prospects of the Tories being able to do so. May’s conference speech with her pledge to stand up to elites on behalf of ordinary working people was an attempt to reach these voters.
Now, the Tories—obviously—has lots of handicaps with these voters. But May and her team understand that voters don’t think in the left / right terms that Westminster does: most of them are left wing on the NHS, but right wing on immigration. So, May’s pledge to protect the NHS and clamp down on immigration puts her in line with them. If May can deliver on this agenda—and make it work economically, which might be the most difficult bit—she could make the Tories a truly national party again.