May's shock election move could crush Labour and destroy UKIP

Darren McCaffrey, Political Correspondent

In 1983, an unpopular Labour leader faced a female Prime Minister, already ensconced in Downing Street with expectations the Conservatives would win.

Mrs Thatcher did, Labour slumped to 209 seats and that leader, Michael Foot, resigned within days.

Could history be about to repeat itself 34 years later?

Well if (yes, if) the polls are correct, 2017 will be much, much worse for Labour.

A YouGov poll published on Tuesday gave the Conservatives a 21-point lead. It followed a ComRes one at the weekend which provided the same result.

On current projections that would see Labour win fewer than 200 seats, in a result not seen since 1935 (they only had 135 MPs).

Not a surprise, then, that Theresa May has acted to call that snap election.

And it is not just Labour.

Expectations are that this election will hit UKIP hard. Could it effectively kill them off?

The party currently has no MPs. It can't do worse in terms of representatives but following the referendum its electoral galvaniser of Brexit has disappeared.

Could the 3.9 million votes it got in 2015 collapse and thus diminish its position as a major political party?

What a political narrative. The Conservative leader who crushed Labour and destroyed UKIP - it is possible.

Opposition will still exist, though. The SNP might suffer a bit but will remain the dominant force north of the border.

And you have the Lib Dems. In 1983 the SDP-Liberal Alliance achieved 25% of the vote, yes 25% - though it only equated to 23 seats.

The Lib Dems this time around are only on 12%, according to the polls. It is very unlikely they will reach 25% but they are on the up.

The most vocal Remain party, they have won dozens of local by-elections and Richmond recently.

That winning streak is expected to continue in June, particularly among urban middle-class constituencies, harming the Conservatives.

And that is why, despite the 1983 comparisons, and despite the polls, this is still a risk for Theresa May.

Unlike any previous elections, this will not just be a battle between the political parties but a continuation of last year's referendum - it will be a Brexit election.

It will come down to individual constituencies: who holds the seat, did it vote leave or remain, will turnout fall?

Lots of questions. In 51 days we will know the answers. Hold on to your hats, folks.

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