That vast battalion of pinko pundits who confidently expected Boris Johnson to get a drubbing in last week’s elections has already reached a consensus on why it is that he did so well and Keir Starmer so badly.
To summarise: the Prime Minister is a lucky general who benefited from a ‘vaccine bounce’. He will fall straight back down to earth once this current crisis is over. The electorate will soon start concentrating on what really matters, like the cost of his curtains.
In the long list of reasons why Labour keeps losing, its tendency to underestimate and misunderstand its opponents should figure large. Because the truth of the matter is that Johnson has not ‘got lucky’. The reality is that the PM succeeded in dominating the real centre ground of British politics, the territory that Sir Keith Joseph once called ‘the common ground’.
Opponents from left and right who seek to portray Johnson as some kind of extremist – whether a rampant Little Englander nationalist or a woolly lefty who will cause ruination through spending on green initiatives – only make themselves look out of touch.
Let’s look for starters at the issues the electorate considers the most important facing the country. The latest YouGov tracker, published this week, shows that health and the economy are the top two, both mentioned by around 50 per cent of respondents.
Brexit, which was top at Christmas on 61 per cent is now down to joint fourth, along with immigration and law and order.
What is the third top issue now and on a rising trend? The environment, mentioned by 30 per cent. Johnson has been all over it for weeks with repeated waves of green pledges and initiatives, much to the disgruntlement of some Tory right-wingers.