During the 20th century, political scientists referred to UK Conservatives as the most successful political party in the Western world. Their secret was an ability to move with the times and adapt to a changing electorate. When a core policy became unpopular, they would drop it. While their rivals tore themselves apart over ideology, the Tories simply reinvented themselves when required.
Two decades ago, with the party split down the middle over EU membership and out of touch with modern, socially liberal norms, that narrative appeared dated. With spectacularly bad timing, Geoffrey Wheatcroft released his book in 2005, The Strange Death of Tory England, just as David Cameron was about to become leader.
Yesterday, when Theresa May shocked the nation by calling an early election, the overwhelming consensus was that the Tories are back in total control of British politics and on the verge of emulating their greatest victories of last century.
Once again, the key is their changed response to the issue that now transcends all others. The party that took the UK into the EU; that signed the Single European Act and Maastricht Treaties; whose PM led the campaign to stay in the EU and whose replacement was also a Remainer are now very much the Brexit Party. Perfect, for an election which will be dominated by that single topic.
While Labour immediately descended into confusion and civil war after the referendum, the Tories offered a clear message and competent candidate. No ifs, no buts, May would respect the result and push through Brexit. The reward seems certain to be a mandate for the new PM to pursue whatever Brexit she wants, thanks to an increased majority in Parliament.
The message from Betfair markets couldn’t be clearer. The Tories are 1.08 (93%) to win Most Seats to win another Overall Majority. While the former odds are prohibitive, this is actually a great way to make 8% profit minus commission in just six weeks. There is simply no rational argument to oppose them.