Fri, 19 April 2024

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By Bishop of Leeds
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The Tories will be licking their lips over the Labour leadership contest

Kevin Schofield | PoliticsHome

2 min read Partner content

Wherever she is in the Swiss Alps right now, Theresa May is probably doing a fair impression of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

Any warnings that her and Mr May's walking holiday must only be disturbed if it's urgent were surely ignored the second that Owen Smith suggested Isil should be invited to take part in Middle East peace talks.

The Labour leadership hopeful made the gaffe during a debate in which Jeremy Corbyn again insisted that he would never authorise the use of Britain's nuclear deterrent if he becomes Prime Minister.

So there you have it. Whenever the next election comes, it will either feature Theresa May versus The Man Who Wants To Negotiate with Isil or Theresa May versus The Man Who Would Never Push The Button. Or at least that's what Tory HQ will do everything in their power to frame it as.

And when the well-funded Conservative election machine gets going, it tends to be pretty effective.

Cast your mind back to last year and those posters showing Ed Miliband sticking out of Alex Salmond's top pocket. Puerile? Certainly. Effective? Absolutely.

Much of the credit for the Tories' opinion poll-defying victory in the 1992 election is often given to the 'Labour's Tax Bombshell' poster, while the 1979 election which swept Margaret Thatcher to power featured Saatchi and Saatchi's iconic 'Labour Isn't Working' ad.

But it's on defence that Labour are often at their most vulnerable. In the 1987 election, a Tory poster featured a British soldier with his hands up in surrender alongside the message 'Labour's Policy On Arms'.

Of course, there will be many on the Left who will flock to Mr Corbyn's anti-nuclear banner. But they were only ever going to vote Labour, Green, or - at a push - Lib Dem anyway. The least said about Mr Smith's Isil peace talks plan the better.

As silly season speculation continues about whether or not the Prime Minister will go to the country before 2020, the Labour leadership contenders seem determined to present her party with plenty of ammunition to fire at them.

That sound you can hear is Theresa May singing 'Doe A Deer' while rubbing her hands in anticipation.

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