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The year nothing changed

This week, voters in nearly half of England’s local councils will go to the polls. Nearly a year after last year’s disastrous snap election, this is a chance for the electorate to deliver a fresh verdict on how Theresa May has done. But what has she done? How has she responded to last summer’s shock message?

Back on that evening in June, when “hung parliament” flashed up on the nation’s TV screens, the collective response from both sides was astonishment. The surprise was in large part because poll after poll had shown a decent Conservative lead going into voting day. Ipsos Mori had them up eight points over Labour, ICM put their lead at 12 points, and YouGov’s final call had the Tories outperforming the Opposition by seven points. It was hardly going to be nail-biting stuff.

How wrong they were. The pollsters called it wrong in 2015, wrong it 2016 and they’d called it wrong again in 2017.

YouGov, however, did have an inkling that things might be different. Their new MRP model had consistently shown a much closer race. But then, when it mattered, they switched back to the old method before calling it for the Tories.

The pollsters, pundits and politicos had been gulled by groupthink again. Perhaps, if more attention had been paid to the data, or to what was being said on the doorsteps, then they might have seen that people wanted change, not more of the same.

So where are we, one year on? Theresa May’s government is far from the strong and stable one she promised all those months ago. The resignation of yet another minister at the weekend perfectly characterises a year of missteps, clashes and scandals. And, crucially, little attention has been paid to the cares of the voters.

For despite that call for change last June, very little has been done to improve the lives of those who have repeatedly rejected the status quo. That’s why this week at UnHerd we’re looking at “The Year Nothing Changed”.