As we approach June 8th, Atlas will be sending through a Friday round-up of news, anecdotes, and current polling to help you keep abreast of the latest campaign trail developments.
1) May-ism has landed
Although she coyly denied the concept of May-ism at the manifesto launch, the policies outlined had a distinctiveness to them unlike few previous Conservative manifestos.
Although it had hints of John Major’s philosophy, this was very much May’s personal and original manifesto which, although it bears the party brand, had some distinctly un-conservative interventionist policies (with language about broken markets first started by Ed Miliband).
Let’s not be under any illusion, this was THE significant moment of the election and will likely set the course of the country for the next decade. Theresa May will have firmly stamped her political authority on the country and unless more drama is to follow (never say never) she will be in power for long enough to deliver these policy promises.
So it’s goodbye Cameron-ism and possibly the final nail in the Thatcherite coffin. Post-election, it will be interesting to see how long her own party back these ambitions. But if you’re looking for the clearest statement yet about her vision, look no further than this line:
“We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality. We see rigid dogmas not just as needless but dangerous.”
Across its 85 pages, the manifesto covers ‘five giant challenges’ - economy, a united nation in a changing world, meritocracy, an inter-generational contract and our digital age. If you want more detailed analysis do let us know.
Oh and by the way, Labour and the Lib Dems published their manifestos this week...
2. Electoral Commission fundraising statistics
Yesterday the Electoral Commission published the election fundraising figures for 3rd-9th May. Although only for a short period so far, they tell an interesting story in themselves. The Tories raised £4.1 million in the first week of the campaign compared to Labour’s £2.7 million.
The substantial majority (88%) of Labour’s donations came from the Unite union. The Conservative’s biggest single donor, who gave £900,000, was one of the founders of the taxi firm Addison Lee. Commentators have been quick to point out the continued decline in Labour’s ability to raise significant funds - since Blair stood down as leader ten years ago. Lower down the charts, new entry The Women’s Equality Party managed to out-fund The Green Party with a total of £20,544 compared to £15,000.
- FT: “Early figures show Conservative fundraising muscle”
- Times: “Unions prove no match for Tories’ millionaire donors”
- Daily Telegraph: “Labour election campaign 'funded almost entirely by union donations”
3) Election Debates - and the wooden spoon goes to….
The Prime Minister didn’t get empty chaired thanks to Jeremy Corbyn also refusing to take the stage last night in the ITV leaders’ debate. One commentator claiming JC “Didn’t want to tangle with the also-rans from five other parties”.
Four of these ‘also-rans’ spoke largely about ‘blank cheques’ and the ‘dangers of a hard Brexit’, whilst the other one claimed Theresa May was ‘backtracking on Brexit’ and that ‘immigration still wasn’t being addressed radically enough’. No points for guessing who was who.
Ultimately this was a sleepy battle over the wooden spoon, with polling showing Sturgeon is on track to maintain a bronze medal.
Points may or may not be remembered:
- The so-called ‘Leaders Debate’ drew an average audience of just 1.6million less than the 1.62 million who tuned in for Channel 4’s scheduled rival The Supervet.
- Our favourite moment was UKIP’s Paul Nuttall repeatedly calling Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru, Natalie...
- Theresa May emerged the winner, despite others best efforts to criticise her absence.
IT WAS A GOOD WEEK FOR...
Theresa May. Simply put, you are looking at the Prime Minister for the next five-years.
Her manifesto has enough for the core Tory base, a sprinkling for moderates, and dangles a few sweeteners to those former Labour voters who are tempted to switch. The only question remaining is whether she can beat Blair’s 179 seat majority from 1997, it’s a tall order, but she may well have it in her sights...
IT WAS A BAD WEEK FOR...
Thatcherism. Could this be the end? Some might argue it died long ago, but there are still many outriders for her brand of politics out there. May-ism is here though and looks set to dominate politics for years to come.
Philip Hammond. Rumours abound he is first in line for a re-shuffle in the new Government, particularly after fessing up that he does go in for a bit of occasional workplace shouting. The gossip-mongers claim that he and May’s right-hand man Nick Timothy have fallen out and it is noticeable that despite being the Chancellor he has made few media appearances so far. He may survive, purely on the grounds of a ‘strong and stable government’ but the contenders are already lining up, with Amber Rudd heading the betting...
THE BEST POLITICAL ANECDOTE GOES TO...
Corbyn outlined his thoughts on the UK retirement age, stating that “68, as they say, is too late [to retire]”.
Just as an FYI, Jeremy Corbyn is 68 on May 26… perhaps he is considering his own options.