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Why Theresa May wants you to believe she could lose this general election

Everybody thinks the Tories are going to win the 2017 general election but here's why they want you to believe they might lose.

Bookmakers, TV pundits and newspaper columnists say this general election is going to be a walkover for the Conservatives.

Know who says otherwise?

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Conservative leader Theresa May , that’s who.

Mr Corbyn will insist that he can win on June 8 and become Prime Minister, for obvious reasons.

Even when the situation looks dire, you’d expect him to insist that victory is possible.

But Mrs May also wants you to think that she’s got her bags packed, just in case she has to quit 10 Downing Street and make way for Mr Corbyn after the votes are counted.

She wants this to be an election about leadership, and specifically about who you trust to lead the UK through the tricky process of quitting the EU (something both major parties are now committed to doing).

That’s why she talks about “strong and stable leadership” all the time. You’ll hear the phrase again and again throughout the election campaign.

Theresa May speaks to supporters at a campaign event in Leeds

But it only works if people really believe that Mr Corbyn could actually become leader of the country.

So the Conservatives have a second soundbite, which they also intend to repeat from now until polling day.

They claim that if voters don’t turn out to vote for Mrs May, we’ll end up with a “coalition of chaos”. This means a Government led by Mr Corbyn and supported not only by Labour MPs but also by the SNP and the Liberal Democrats.

Mrs May spelled the message out when she spoke in Leeds last week.

She said: “Only two people who can possibly represent Britain in Europe. The choice is between five years of strong and stable leadership with me as Prime Minister, or a coalition of chaos with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm, a weak leader negotiating Brexit and higher taxes, debt and waste”

You’ll hear it again, and again, and again. Strong and stable leadership. Coalition of chaos. The theory is that the only way to make sure people remember the messages is to repeat them at every available opportunity.

Labour hopes to turn the focus away from the issues of leadership and Brexit and onto stronger territory for them. That means talking about schools, hospitals and essential council services such as social care.

And the Labour Party has some pretty strong ammunition.

Schools are cutting staff while hospitals are overspending like crazy, because they just don’t have enough money to cover their costs.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meets supporters at a rally in Harlow, Essex

It’s not because budgets have actually been cut (whatever some Labour politicians say). But the funding coming their way is far less than they need.

That’s not just my view. It’s been confirmed by the National Audit Office, an independent watchdog, and cross-party inquiries by backbench MPs have concluded that there are real problems.

Some Labour candidates are so keen to move attention on to these topics that they’ve made a point of saying they’re going to lose the election.

This vote isn’t about who’s going to be Prime Minister, they say. It’s really about whether or not Theresa May has a massive majority, allowing her to get her own way in the House of Commons, or whether there are enough Labour MPs in Parliament to hold her properly to account.

If a Labour candidate knocks on your door during this election and you express doubts about Jeremy Corbyn, don’t be surprised if they tell you not to worry - because there’s no chance of Mr Corbyn ever becoming Prime Minister.

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