“A week is a long time in politics…”
Harold Wilson, 1964
After the first couple of weeks of the campaign, Redwood Consulting’s Freddie Rosen looks at how the two main political parties’ campaigns have fared…
Scores on the doors
New week, new polls.
Last week saw polls released by Kantar (11 Nov), ICM (11 and 14 Nov), ComRes (12 Nov), YouGov (12 and 15 Nov), Panelbase (14 Nov), Opinium (15 Nov), BMG (15 Nov) and Deltapoll (16 Nov), which continue to paint a familiar picture: Conservatives lead, but not comfortably (yet).
Taking an average across the polls from this week, the Conservatives lead by 11.9 points (although psephologists up and down the country will likely roll their eyes at such lazy analysis). Another constant is the extent of both major political parties’ losses since 2017, with the Conservatives confining themselves to a single-digit drop, but Labour (almost) consistently showing double-figure losses. If things remain as they are, Boris Johnson’s Conservatives may be looking at a potential majority come 13 December.
All of this having been said, the Conservatives started the 2017 General Election with an even healthier lead – and we all know how that worked out.
Magic money tree installed at CCHQ
There is one key theme running through every policy announcement of the campaign so far: Money. Lots of it.
The current spending plans have felt like the equivalent of a comedy auction – one person bids, the next bids one pound more – and on and on it goes.
Of course, the UK’s major political parties have started costing such plans ahead of manifestos being published, and hopefully are not just bidding for the public’s affections… After a decade of austerity, though, who could blame them?
This week, for example, saw Labour pledge to increase NHS funding from £121bn to £155bn by 2023-24. The Conservatives? A paltry, insulting… £149bn. Of course, many will point to chronic underfunding of the NHS in the course of the last nine years of Tory rule. But the pledges from across the political spectrum underscore the sea-change that is taking place.
Throw in Labour’s nationalised broadband and the tree-planting pledges set to be announced by almost every political party and something becomes very clear: Austerity is dead. Long live capital investment.
A tale of two leaders?
One half expects Jo Swinson to come knocking at the door, boxing gloves fitted, Liberal Democrat press officers in tow, when mentioning just two leaders in this election. However, it is difficult to abandon the idea that anyone other than Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson will be our next prime minister (with or without a working majority).
Last week saw both of them out and about, meeting the public, with the unsuspecting residents of Glasgow (Corbyn) and Fishlake (Johnson) treated to the charms of our two Prime Ministers-in-waiting.
At Fishlake, Johnson learned the hard way what happens when a Conservative visits a Labour stronghold in a time of crisis (even if Doncaster North, Ed Milliband’s constituency, voted two-to-one to leave the European Union). There were the inevitable clips of Johnson bumbling through South Yorkshire, mopping inefficiently and entering into testy conversations with locals – which is not made better considering he was late.
But through it all, one couldn’t help but notice that this was exactly the kind of press opportunity that would never have occurred under Theresa May in 2017. Whilst BoJo presents risks, CCHQ has evidently decided to go on the front foot this time around – I’m sure Theresa May will be watching with no shortage of catharsis and relief.
And what of Jeremy Corbyn’s trip to Glasgow? Accosted by a local drawing attention to previous allegations of terrorist sympathy (albeit in unacceptable and offensive language), Corbyn was subsequently drawn into a questions about the recent death of IS founder, Abu Bakr Al-Bagdadi. Neglecting to acknowledge the extremist’s suicide (and murder of his own children), Corbyn suggested US troops should have arrested the Islamic State figurehead.
Whilst this plays perfectly into the hands of the Conservatives, and the picture they have painted of Corbyn since he was elected 2015, will the public respond in kind? As always, that depends who you ask!
Regardless, tomorrow’s debate will see Corbyn and Johnson go head-to-head. Who will win? Too close to call at this stage…but we’ll let you know.