TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED

A Hung Parliament was predicted by pollsters in 1992; the Tories won with the largest share of the vote in British electoral history. A Hung Parliament was predicted in 2015; the Tories won their first outright victory since 1992; some are predicting a Hung Parliament in 2017 and…well, you can guess where I’m going. The publication of a poll yesterday that narrowed the Conservative lead over Labour to just a solitary point is undoubtedly one we have to take with the proverbial pinch of salt. Yet the fact a poll can even be published which shows the two major parties neck-and-neck is a remarkable state of affairs considering where we were when Theresa May called this snap General Election less than two months ago.

One unexpected development this campaign appears to have brought to the fragmented political table has been the resurgence of the two-party system. The selling of it as a Presidential Election – something Mrs May figured was her trump card – has probably played its part. To be fair, however, Jezza has also pursued this path, hogging the headlines and relegating his Shadow Cabinet to the periphery of the debate. The sudden withdrawal of Diane Abbott from the campaign due to ‘illness’ seems belated recognition by Labour of what a liability the Shadow Home Secretary is; at least the Tories have ensured their own liability, Boris Johnson, has been largely invisible, certainly compared to the high profile he enjoyed during the EU Referendum last year.

The chalk-and-cheese contest between May and Corbyn, a factor that seems to have intensified due to the refusal of the PM to share a stage with the Labour leader on TV, is something we haven’t seen in quite some time where British politics are concerned. Somebody quipped during the 1983 General Election that Margaret Thatcher’s greatest electoral asset was Michael Foot, and May (along with her Fleet Street allies) has attempted to apply this theory to her own opposition; but such a tactic draws comparisons that haven’t reflected well on her. The more she’s been put under the spotlight, the less flattering it has proven to be for the Prime Minister.

The old complaint that it was virtually impossible to tell the leaders, let alone their parties, apart has been blown out of the water this time round; and the surprise rise of Corbyn has grabbed a majority of headlines because the media was determined to portray him as a no-hoper from the off. The fact that this has been the first General Election for a post-Blairite Labour Party, essentially being sold to the electorate as a new party altogether, has perhaps injected a fresh zest into proceedings. It may still end in tears for Corbyn and his party, though bar a couple of awkward moments on the radio, Jezza has mostly fought a blinder of a campaign. Even the suspicious leaking of the Labour manifesto, something those within his own party figured would kill his campaign, utterly backfired; the Labour manifesto received a relatively positive reception, certainly when compared to the disastrous Tory one.

Perhaps surplus to the requirements of the Prime Minister’s Presidential approach, few members of the PM’s Cabinet (bar Amber Rudd) have been especially prominent in this campaign. They’d only have disrupted May’s Brexit express, even if that train has come close to being derailed on more than one occasion over the last few weeks. The last time a serving government experienced such a cock-up of a campaign as the Tories have in 2017 was probably Gordon Brown’s Labour in 2010. There hasn’t been an ‘ignorant woman’ moment for Theresa May, though probably only because she’s done her best to avoid members of the public at all costs; however, the humiliating U-turn on social care just days after the manifesto appeared was an unprecedented blunder that might still impact on the party’s fortunes.

If we take Scotland out of the equation, the focus on the head-to-head between Labour and Tory has been aided in part by the deterioration of support for the smaller parties. Both UKIP and the Lib Dems haven’t impacted in the way they have before, whereas Plaid Cymru and the Greens haven’t increased in notable support since 2015. All the half-arsed TV debates have relegated the rest to simply making up the numbers, and I suspect the leaders of those parties know it, despite their brave faces. In the immediate Brexit aftermath, the old party political certainties seemed to have been shattered forever; it’s remarkable how rapidly they’ve reasserted themselves at the expense of those who’ve punched above their weight in recent years.

The last 24 hours of campaigning have consisted of the images that have dominated news coverage ever since Theresa May called the Election – the PM addressing a small hall of placard-waving Tory activists, Corbyn addressing a large outdoor rally of old lefties and blue-haired student girls, and the front covers of the Mail, Express and Sun recycling the same shock-horror stories of Jezza’s ‘IRA connections’; if what the leaders of the two major parties were doing thirty years ago had any bearing on 2017, perhaps Theresa May should still be warning against ‘the dangers’ of lesbianism, as she was when trying to make her name as a Parliamentary hopeful.

Following one final push tonight, television (which is, for most of us, the source material for any political event) will enter into an Election armistice tomorrow; only when the clock strikes 10.00 and the BBC, ITV and Sky exit poll results are unveiled will the final act of the trilogy that began with the General Election of 2015 reach the end of its natural life. Where we will be five years from now, let alone Friday morning, is now in the lap of the electorate. Go forth and tick that box!

Oh, and be careful out there too…

 

© The Editor

https://www.epubli.de//shop/buch/Looking-for-Alison-Johnny-Monroe-9783745059861/63240

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7 thoughts on “TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED

  1. I have been pleasantly surprised by how well Jeremy Corbyn has taken to ‘the stump’, exuding passion, wit and a degree of charisma which had been absent from his pre-election persona, so very different from the mechanical Mrs May. True, he has generally only ever presented this vision to the adoring masses of those already converted, but his oratorical qualities have still been a surprise.
    I’ve not been surprised by the belated defenestration of the abysmal Diane Abbott – it was a major judgement-fail to allow her ever to be exposed to wide public scrutiny. If/when Corbyn loses, his former bed-mate should take much of the dis-credit – I wouldn’t pay her in washers and can only assume that she was either an amazing performer in the sack all those years ago or she still has some serious dirt on JC. That John McDonnell has been invisible for the last two weeks is also no accident – he has none of Corbyn’s charisma, coming over as a deeply deceitful operator, most likely to frighten the horses.
    I’ve also been surprised at how amateurish the Conservative campaign has been: that ‘glorious leader’ focus was never the right structure for a UK election: then to allow that ‘leader’ to appear to falter whenever drawn away from the standard sound-bite mantra was very careless. When you bet the house on one card, make sure you already know that card is an ace.
    There’s nothing to say about Tiny Tim Farron, he’s still very, very tiny in all dimensions – and we’ve noticed how Nick Clegg has suddenly been drafted in for all their major TV work this last week to provide a smidgen of credibility and gravitas, they’re really that desperate. Another one who’s not up to the job. The rest are irrelevant too.

    But despite all that, it is really only political anoraks like us (well, me at least) who observe and attempt to analyse all the ebbs and flows of a campaign: the truth is that Joe/Josephine Voter mostly votes either by habit or by gut. In this instance, I’m convinced that the strong balance of the ‘gut’ vote will still go to Mrs May, whether she deserves it or not, and it’s those floating gut-voters who always make the difference.
    When considering all the influences in play (Corbyn effect, Abbott, Brexit, Scotland etc.), I expect the Conservatives to win by an increased majority tomorrow: if pressed, I’d guess between 30 and 50 seats. But I don’t have the huge and sophisticated resources of the polling organisations at my disposal and they have been very wrong quite often recently, so I’m getting my own arse-coverage in early.

    Whatever happens tomorrow, the sun will still rise of Friday, the same major issues will still be there, we must just hope that the winners will make some progress towards solving them pretty damned quickly.

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    1. It was certainly a grave miscalculation on the part of the Tories to go for a Presidential angle when Theresa May is clearly not a colossus in the Thatcher or even Blair vein; I may have said it in a post previously (hard to remember, sometimes!), but I think she’s more of a female version of John Major in the charisma stakes; to base a campaign on that level of charisma would surely have been punished far more severely had Corbyn not had to work all the way up from such a lowly position when the starting pistol was fired. As it is, even if he doesn’t win, he’s still fought the kind of campaign that has had many of his critics (myself included) eating their hats, and I take that hat off to him before popping it in the oven.

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  2. When the ‘snap’ election was called by VileMay the tories had already amassed £10 million from rich party donors to pay for it. My local Labour constituency had only the money they could raise from local volunteers during the last few weeks. My prospective Labour candidate today did a tour of the constituency including large areas of farmland, some 40 miles in length. He was joined by two volunteers, one driving a small saloon with everybody in including a ladder. They had a few cards and posters to hand out. They knocked on a couple of doors prior to me seeing them. The proceeded to the next village where nobody was around – they paused and continued to the next small town where there were 7 people around … and on it went. He wants to oust a sitting tory who has voted 100% with the government – suggesting he does not represent his constituents – he doesn’t.

    Corbyn has been magnificent. Regardless of the 170 tories in the labour party – how they reconcile that I do not know – Corbyn despite a very unpleasant media, two so called terror attacks (false flag electioneering) – has gathered thousands of young people around him. Whether his party wins the election – an undoubtedly difficult task – he could not have done anymore. If the nazitory party win again I worry about the state of this country – thinking that it would be appropriate to get out before the4 rot truly sets in – martial law, 100% surveillance, austerity and rule by a fucking monster. The tories have hidden the own crazies and splits and no doubt somebody is lined up to replace May as soon as – but who on earth would want to be governed by them any longer

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  3. as a post script to my comment above, I wonder if you know of the apparently increasing phenomena of Tory candidates not attending hustings, when they do of being abusive to their audiences and , of course, walking out when things get tricky? There’s plenty of evidence from up and down the country of Tories not attending hustings. Some have found excuses that match their arrogance and others have ‘played by conservative rules’ such as when the terror attacks happened. otheres have not at all liked the line of questioning by audience members and have fought back in abusive ways. Others have simply walked out shouting they don’t have to put up with such audiences. How conceited and arrogant these people are. just who do they think they are in these circumstances – there hasn’t been a vote yet! They see the population as thick, argumentative nobodys, even potential terrorists because their view is the only acceptable one – and anyone who disagrees must be a terrorist. What a nice bunch they are and wouldn’t it be fun if the tory monsters got walloped

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    1. Were I ever a Tory candidate (very unlikely, the Pope will be Islamic first), I too would be wary of being subjected to a bussed-in audience of Momentum activists intent on suppressing valid political discussion.
      Whatever we may think of Tory loyalists, they are generally willing to give a respectful hearing to opposing views, before going off and voting as normal. The same cannot be said of the rabble-rousers currently being drafted into any public opportunity.
      Freedom of speech, and thought, is supposed to work both ways.

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  4. Back in the 1990s, before the Irish rugby game was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the professional era, and when Ireland scoring a try against France or England (let alone the Southern hemisphere heavyweights of Australia/South Africa/NZ) was cause for minor celebration, commentators would declare an ‘honourable victory’ if they put up a good fight and lost by less than expected against France/England/the Southern powerweights.

    I expect similarly to most of you, that Corbyn’s Labour will lose, but by less than the initial polling data (a month ago or so) predicted, and his supporters will declare an ‘honourable victory”.

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