Following a tumultuous week, Pagefield looks back at the highs and lows of the General Election 2017 campaign trail in our inaugural Campaign Watch blog. Look out for our weekly round-up published every Friday morning from now until polling day on June 8.
Message of the Week
Prime Minister Theresa May looked to own her reputation as a “bloody difficult woman” this week when she launched a searing (and somewhat unexpected) attack on the “bureaucrats of Brussels” in a speech outside No 10. Responding to an embarrassing leak detailing an account of the talks between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Prime Minister’s entourage over dinner at Downing Street, the Prime Minister hit out at ‘Brussels Gossip’, accusing European politicians of trying to influence the General Election result.
This was blunt diplomacy from May and a clear attempt to strengthen support amongst the Brexit vote. As the Political Editor of The Spectator neatly summarised:
Not sure it needed shooting again, but Theresa May just put another bullet in the Ukip fox with that speech in Downing Street
— James Forsyth (@JGForsyth) May 3, 2017
Unsurprisingly, the statement attracted criticism from her opponents. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon accused her of ‘playing party games with Brexit’ as well as behaving ‘irresponsibly’. It was also seen by many in the commentariat as evidence of her paranoia and thin-skinned approach to politics.
Either way, there is no doubt that the message landed…right on the front page of every paper.
Gaffe of the Week
No prizes for guessing who our inaugural ‘gaffe’ of the week is awarded to. That’s right – Diane Abbott. Abbott successfully cemented her place in the list of ‘car crash General Election interviews’ via her appearance on LBC, miles ahead of Natalie Bennett, the former Green Party leader whose famous ‘brain fade’ drew similar reaction in the 2015 election. The Shadow Home Secretary had been doing the media rounds to announce Labour’s new plan to tackle crime – so far so good – that was until she was pressed by Nick Ferrari on his LBC show on how much the policy would cost. It was here that she quickly, and catastrophically came unstuck.
Key Policy Issue
Pensions. The triple lock is proving a difficult area of policy for May as it is rumoured she is leaning towards downgrading the scheme – which guarantees a minimum increase in the state pension each year – to a less generous ‘double lock’. May and her team have done little to quell the rumours, but it is likely they will be wary of enraging retirees and the right wing press who support the policy. As a policy area that is bread and butter for the Conservative vote, this is certainly one to watch out for in next week’s manifesto.
It was reported that Sophie Cook has been selected as the Labour candidate for the East Worthing and Shoreham seat currently held by Conservative Tim Loughton. If Cook wins she would be the first transgender MP for the Labour Party, telling The International Business Times that she felt “it was the right time to put my name forward”.
Matt Chorley’s How Much is that Bobbie? Red Box piece was particularly cutting in his assessment of Diane Abbott’s LBC nightmare: “This is the fault of Diane Abbott, and Jeremy Corbyn for appointing her and whoever it was who sent her on to the airwaves to turn a pre-election lollipop into a turd on a stick.”
Week in a Tweet
Thin-skinned paranoia or righteous anger? The verdict in our inaugural Campaign Watch blog is a win for Theresa May. #GeneralElection2017