1. May goes missing
Wednesday night’s leaders debate had 600,000 more viewers than the May-Corbyn leaders BBC Q&A on May 29 but really hit the headlines for who wasn’t there rather than what happened on the night. With his growing confidence on the campaign trail, Jeremy Corbyn’s last minute decision to appear was a cunning ploy, which added to the narrative that Theresa May is ‘frit’.
There were no knockout blows but if the PM was the clear loser on the night, her stand-in, Amber Rudd was the clear winner (see Good Week below). Rudd held her own under heavy fire from the seven other candidates and appeared vindicated when she accused the rest of “squabbling” with one another, which - of course - caused a heated squabble.
The other story from the debate was the vociferously Corbyn-supporting crowd, who were supposed to be politically balanced but did seem keener on anyone but the Tories. Boris Johnson was the first to complain and now the Tories have even put in a formal complaint. Nigel Farage said that “BBC Executives should be sacked for rigging the crowd to be a bunch of lefties”.
With the BBC accused of anti-Corbyn bias by the Left after his Women’s Hour childcare costings brain fade, and the Right re-doubling their usual attacks, it seems the BBC isn’t doing such a bad job in fulfilling its obligation to political neutrality.
- Metro: “The irony is that Rudd — whose father died on Monday — may have emerged as the winner of the night, with her own leadership odds shortening.”
- New Statesmen: “Rudd declared that 'in the quiet of the polling booth' voters would decide between May and a chaotic coalition led by Corbyn.”
2. The only poll that counts.
YouGov put the cat amongst the pigeons this week as their latest projections suggested that the Conservatives would fall short of a majority. Their projection, which is based on current voting intentions, amongst other variables, states that the Tories would only succeed in winning 310 seats, 20 down on their 2015 result and 16 seats short of a majority. Labour, by contrast, would be sitting (relatively) pretty on 257 seats - 29 seats better off than Ed Miliband’s effort. They were joined later in the week by an IpsosMORI poll, which put Labour on 40%, only 5 behind the Tories on 45%.
But should we believe what they say? Both ComRes and ICM are still projecting landslides for the Tories. Michael Moszynski, who predicted the 2015 Election, the EU Referendum and the Scottish Referendum within 0.3%, suggests that YouGov’s projection is flawed. He goes as far as saying that the Tories, “remain safely on course for a three-figure majority”. With trust in polling companies still low, someone will have egg on their face once again come June 8th.
Far from spelling doom for Theresa May’s team (formerly known as the Conservative party), this headline grabbing projection could work in her favour. Lynton Crosby’s meticulous messaging on “strong and stable” vs. “coalition of chaos” will begin to resonate even more, which will stave off complacency and potentially motivate the Tory faithful.
- Spectator: “YouGov's surprise poll shows whoever wins the election, Theresa May will lose”
- Telegraph: “I can safely say it won’t happen – and would even go as far to say that the Conservatives remain safely on course for a three-figure majority. Let me explain.”
- Guardian: “In language echoing Yes Minister’s Sir Humphrey Appleby, leading pollsters have described YouGov’s 'shock poll' predicting a hung parliament on 8 June as 'brave'
3. The Tories Get Personal
In light of Jeremy Corbyn’s and Labour’s improved performances in the polls, the Tories have stepped up their personal attacks on the Labour leader. In a speech to party activists in Wolverhampton, Theresa May claimed Jeremy Corbyn would find himself “alone and naked in the negotiating chamber of the European Union” as the party sought to turn the spotlight back to Brexit in the General Election campaign.
The Labour leader was also targeted over his past security record. The Tories released a video showing the Labour leader boasting about opposing anti-terror legislation and dodging questions about the IRA. The video has now gained over 2 million views. Home Secretary Amber Rudd suggested victory for Jeremy Corbyn would ‘’absolutely” increase the risk of future atrocities. With only a week to go until the General Election expect the negativity to ramp up as the two main parties limp towards the line.
- Guardian: “Jeremy Corbyn’s minders can put him into a smart blue suit for an interview with Jeremy Paxman – but with his position on Brexit, he will find himself alone and naked in the negotiating chamber of the European Union,”
- Times: “The Conservatives have accused Jeremy Corbyn of putting lives at risk as it launched a fresh attack on the Labour leader’s voting record and views on the IRA.”
- Daily Mail: “The direct assault on Mr Corbyn’s record came as further polls suggested Labour was eating into Theresa May’s lead as the June 8 General Election approaches.”
It was a good week for…
The role of Deputy Prime Minister has been unfulfilled since May won the race for Conservative leader last July, dropping George Osborne and removing the position from the Cabinet structure.
Despite the sad death of her father, Amber Rudd unofficially took on the role in the leadership debates, keeping on message, wriggling away from the 6-sided attack from the other leaders (and the audience at times), and landing some punchy hits against Labour and the Lib Dems. May’s decision has placed Rudd firmly at the front of the queue for a post-election promotion to Chancellor, and maybe even for the next leader of the Conservative Party.
The FT have covered her rise through the offices of state here.
It was a bad week for…
From the high point of the Conservative manifesto launch, the last 2 weeks have been the toughest since May become Prime Minister, seemingly one step (or even two) behind the Labour media machine.
An election is a grind for any politician, but whether May thought it would prove this difficult when she confidently announced #GE2017 in April, is anybody’s guess. Many of her difficulties could have been avoided, particularly the manifesto u-turn, and there is no doubt that if she does not score a significant win next week, her tenure as Leader may be shorter than expected.
The best political anecdote goes to…
Category: Best Situation Comedy
“And the BAFTA goes to…” when The Thick of It becomes real.
Jeremy Corbyn floundering on his iPad, and frantically flicking through the Labour manifesto, attempting to find the cost of childcare plans was intimate, awkward, captivating and jarring.
It made great radio, and exceptional TV…
BBC Poll Tracker as of 2 June 2017