“There are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.” – The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, 2003
The above quote by our current Prime Minister from back in 2003 is strangely apt ahead of a second General Election in as many years… the 2019 General Election campaign has actually begun. Parliament has dissolved and we now have no MPs but merely candidates trying to get their old jobs back and of course candidates trying to get a new job, it feels like we have been in a phoney election campaign ever since Boris Johnson took over as Prime Minister.
The election campaign has started with a bang with the unexpected news that Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson for personal reasons is stepping down as an MP. From the opposite wing to Jeremy Corbyn, he fought off a recent attempt to have him removed as Deputy Leader, and the tensions between the two have been long documented. He is joined by fellow Labour stalwarts Gloria De Piero, John Mann and Stephen Twigg and, on the other side, Cameronites like Ed Vaizey, Jo Johnson and Nicky Morgan. Two former Conservative Chancellors are leaving having had the whip removed; Ken Clarke, Father of the House, with 49 years of continuous House of Commons service under his belt was always retiring; and Philip Hammond has decided not to contest his seat again. If he had, it would have meant him running as an Independent against the official Tory candidate.
And what a start…
Alun Cairns has resigned from his post as Welsh Secretary over how much he knew about his aide’s role in the collapse of a rape trial. Adding to the Tories woes, Labour’s David Lammy has called for the resignation of the Tory Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Moggs, due to his remarks about Grenfell Tower victims (rapper, Stormzy, used rather more colourful language). But the name calling hasn’t ended there. Boris Johnson has already compared Jeremy Corbyn to Joseph Stalin in his supposed detestation of free enterprise at the Tories’ official launch today in the Midlands. With the latest YouGov polls putting the Tories at 38% and Labour at 25%, will the Labour leader replicate his 2017 outing to put in a thumping election performance?
What of the Liberal Democrats?
Lib Dem Leader Jo Swinson, excluded from the ITV Leader’s Debate, is considering legal action against the broadcaster. However, they have high hopes that this election will see them scoop up the Remain vote from disillusioned former Tory and Labour voters. With high profile ex-Labour MPs Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger standing as Lib Dems in heavily remain seats in London, all eyes will be watching to see if they will lead a renaissance that could include re-capturing former Lib Dems seats such as Cambridge and Richmond Park. And also with a Remain alliance in places such as Brighton, to allow the Green’s Caroline Lucas a free pass, and in Beaconsfield, to allow Dominic Grieve the space to fight his former party, we should see cross party co-operation operating at a level rarely seen in British general elections.
And , finally the wildcard in the pack, the Brexit Party?
Its leader Nigel Farage, having failed to get elected in a General Election on seven previous occasions, has decided to not contest a seat for the eighth time. His reasoning is that he would prefer to be campaigning up and down the country and not restricted to one seat. Others say he is scared or “frit”. The public will decide on that… Nevertheless the Brexit Party are standing 600 candidates – they say they targeting “Workington” man – a traditionally working class Labour voter from the North of England, with socially conservative values and annoyed that Brexit hasn’t happened. Farage claims he is going for those Labour leave voting seats frustrated with the metropolitan leadership of the Labour Party. The Tories aren’t quite so sure, and there is a very real fear that the Brexit Party vote will damage their chances of gaining a majority. And of course Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP looks set to dominate in Scotland harming both the Tories and Labour.
Here at Redwood Consulting, property and real estate communication specialists, our political consultants will be following the election closely until polling day and beyond. In particular we will be tracking announcements and analysing the main parties’ manifestos for their proposals for the built environment and real estate sector, and we will be blogging away to offer our thoughts on their implications.
One thing we can predict in the first General Election in December since 1923, is that this is going to be an unpredictable journey with an unpredictable ending.