Campaign Watch: 12/05/17

Campaign Watch: 12/05/17

Pagefield General

Leaked manifestos, migration promises and more slip ups on numbers: it’s week two of Pagefield’s campaign watch. Our newest team member, Paul Codd, gives us his take.

Key Policy Issue

To nationalise or not to nationalise, as Labour’s manifesto burst onto the scene this week.

Blending headlines on trains and post services, transactional commitments such as additional free childcare hours with a raft of new ‘national X services’ and even the odd ‘National Review of Local Pubs’ for good measure, there is a lot that voters will potentially find appealing. The big question becomes is it properly costed, and does it work as a collective whole?

The risk for the Conservatives’ manifesto is a comparative lack of ‘strong and stable’ detail, but with Labour’s policies in part funded by a 37% hike to the current rate of corporation tax, and containing the type of restrictive workforce regulations that even the French are trying to ditch, a defence of the positive role of business looks likely.

Rising Star

Annabelle Dickson of Politico has been looking at the prospect of the general election ushering in a new wave of Brexit true believers.  Kemi Badenoch, currently of the London Assembly and the new PPC for Saffron Waldon is a top pick. Formerly the head of digital for the Spectator (and already facing calls from potential constituents for help on rural broadband) Kemi, in the words of her former boss “defies all kinds of caricatures…who loves of the British way of life because she chose it, rather than was born into it”.

Message of the Week

Back to 2010 we go with the week dominated by the return of that promise to cut net migration to below 100,000 a year. Theresa May clearly calculates that with a Conservative party hoping to scoop up Ukippers across Labour heartlands, the risk of failing to meet such a commitment (again) if the Conservatives are returned to office is far outweighed by the potential political damage to be incurred from any tweaks.

The emergence of French President-elect Emmanuel Macron onto the scene helped ensure that migration stayed front and centre for much of the week. With a potential shake-up of the Le Touquet treaty – which sees the British border (and refugee camps) on French soil – Labour’s initial efforts to steer the debate back towards taxation and err… hospital parking charges fell flat.  Labour runs the risk of falling foul of what David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist termed “Vote Labour and win a microwave”, unless rapid positioning on the newly leaked manifesto can bring it all together.

Clanger/Gaffe of the Week;

Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham and Shadow Women and Equalities Minister had a hard time on the World at One on Tuesday explaining the absence of a certain someone from her campaign literature.

Repeatedly pressed, Champion said that she is “planning on putting his picture on my election [material]…whether or not that actually happens, I don’t know, because I have not written it all yet”. Not the vote of confidence Corbyn might have hoped for from someone in his Shadow Cabinet.

Hot Take/Headline

Emily Thornberry MP got off to a good start on Peston on Sunday, first defending the principle of progressive taxation in launching an income tax rise for people earning over £80K, before calling on all party pledges to be properly funded.

It’s a shame the latter message hadn’t been considered by those briefing her:

Peston: “And can I just very briefly, because we’ve got to go to break in a second…How much will you raise from this?”

Thornberry: “I don’t know, I mean you’ll need to ask John McDonnell about that, I’m not going to get into all of that”

Peston: “Fantastic”

The Guardian’s parliamentary sketch writer, John Crace, gave a strong assessment, saying that the episode added “a new dimension of incompetence to the Diane Abbott numeracy playbook”

Week in a Tweet

Is Attlee back or is Jez taking #Labour down with him? Lab’s manifesto bursts onto scene in our 2nd Campaign Watch blog #GE2017