Theresa May’s Conservatives have achieved something remarkable. For the first time in 60 years, a British political party is receiving close to an absolute majority– 50% – in the opinion polls.
The last leader to achieve this was Harold Macmillan, who won 49.4% in 1959. No one has matched his achievement – Harold Wilson came closest with just under 48% in 1966, while Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair won three elections each without topping 45%. If the polls hold, May could surpass them all.
This is not how party politics is supposed to work now. The class divides and tribal attachments that dominated 1950s politics are supposed to be a thing of the past, replaced by a more atomised and individualised society, with more fragmented and fluid politics. The era of two-party politics is over, we were told. Breaking 40% is the most a party can aim for and usually all it needs.