As the penultimate week of the campaign draws to a close, we look back at one of the most interesting weeks of the General Election so far and try to figure out how Labour have closed the lead to just three points.
Message of the Week
Conservatives: Brexit, Brexit, Brexit.
In Monday night’s interview with Jeremy Paxman, May ducked, dived and dodged questions on social care, the NHS, schools and cuts to policing – always trying to steer the discussion back to safer ground… Brexit. Paxman pressed the PM on whether she thought that the U-turn on social care may threaten her ‘strong and stable’ image and asked whether, when it came to EU negotiations, diplomats may be thinking; “she’s a blowhard who collapses at the first sign of gunfire”.
Labour: Domestic, domestic, domestic.
Corbyn has been talking all things domestic this week, including free childcare, investment in infrastructure, and writing off tuition fees. This was particularly the case during the televised debate on Wednesday. Amber Rudd, standing in for the PM, tried to stick the boot in Labour’s fiscal reputation by accusing Corbyn of having a “magic money tree”, but the Labour campaign team will have been happy with the reaction to their leader’s performance.
Gaffe of the Week
Ms May’s “three minutes of nothing” interview is our pick for this week’s media gaffe (although Corbyn’s Dianne Abbot impression on Women’s Hour was a close second). Receiving a call late on Tuesday night letting him know that he had secured an interview with the PM, Plymouth Herald reporter Sam Blackledge had every right to look forward to meeting with May. Waiting in the rain, among many of the local fisherman, Blackledge had hoped to get a good local line from the PM on Brexit and transport links but instead was met with a series “non -answers” and “soundbites”.
After getting back to the office to transcribe the interview, Blackledge realised that he had nothing for an interesting story and so the paper published an excerpt of Ms May’s “soundbite” responses, titled “Three minutes of nothing“, which has since gone viral.
Key Policy Issue
A leaked Labour policy paper that found its way into the hands of the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail put immigration firmly back on the agenda this week. The document, which proposed a visa route for unskilled workers, indicated that Labour would welcome a US-style green card scheme and to some, suggests the party does not consider cutting net migration a priority. The PM accused Labour of wanting complete “uncontrolled migration”; an attack that lead Channel 4 News’ Krishnan Guru Murthy to accuse David Davis and the Conservatives of “bringing politics into disrepute” with “lies”.
With every major party leader taking part in the televised debate this week, May was left looking weak and scared. Twitter did its job nicely, with plenty of jokes filling up feeds including: “I guess no Theresa is better than a bad Theresa?” and “The lady’s not for turning…..up”. May’s no show made way for Amber Rudd, who has gone from strength to strength during this campaign. Just two days after her Father died, Rudd’s capable performance has put her firmly in the mix as the next Tory leader if May is forced to step down.
A no-show leader, internal party wrangling and countless media gaffes have seen the Conservatives drop point by point in the opinion polls.
However, writing in the Times this morning Phil Collins argues that Labour’s successful campaign has left them in a trap; they have become “both considerably more necessary and vastly less likely”. A must read about the future of the Labour party.
Week in a Tweet
As the penultimate week of #ge2017 draws to a close, the election is getting tighter and (finally) much more interesting.