Next Saturday had long been circled in Tory plotters’ diaries as the date on which the next effort to remove Theresa May would begin. But as I say in The Sun this morning, even May’s most ardent Tory critics now accept that next week’s local elections aren’t going to lead to her downfall.
Why, because expectations are so low for the Tories that they are almost bound to surpass them. (May’s own position is also stronger than it was in January thanks to her handling of the Salisbury attack.) Tory insiders now believe that they are likely to hold one of their London flagship councils, Westminster and Wandsworth. This combined with some gains in the West Midlands, which they are hopeful of, will enable them to claim that these are reasonable results for a governing party in mid-term.
It will be tempting for the Tories to declare that the local elections are further proof that the capital and the rest of country are diverging politically—and so their decline in London doesn’t matter much as it will be made up for elsewhere. But this would be a mistake. For what is happening in London, shows what happens when homeownership goes into a big decline.
Homeownership in London peaked in the 1990s and has been falling since. Homeowners became a minority in London in 2011, the first time that has been the case since Margaret Thatcher’s right to buy revolution in the early 1980s. On current trends, 60 percent of Londoners will be renters in just seven years time.
Red London is a preview for the Tories of what happens when enough homes aren’t built. The party should take note.