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BRIT Review

GE2017: Picking the wrong fights and defying expectations

Friday, June 09, 2017


This election will go down as one of the most challenging and oddest in history. After discovering eight weeks constitutes a 'snap' election it was framed as a 'back me over Brexit' by the PM. She needed a mandate to negotiate with Brussels and other parties were trying to manouever and sabotage her efforts to get the best deal for Britain. 

Editorial Lorraine Hill-ScottMrs May, we were told, was the strong and stable choice, against Mr Corbyn and his coalition of chaos. Fast-forward those eight weeks, which included two horrific terrorist attacks, and the majority she already held has disappeared. As Mrs May stood outside Downing Street today it was the political equivalent of holding a sign up to say 'nothing to see here', 'everything's back to normal', 'move along please.' 

Here's some of the reasons why I think it didn't go to script...

You don't attack your core vote, Theresa

Whoever advises Mrs. May needs to take a long hard look at their P45. Of course there are pressing social issues but this 'snap' election was meant to be about Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. It was not meant to be about means-testing Winter Fuel payments, bringing back fox-hunting and putting the cost of your home into paying for social care.

If ever there was a time to fudge it, which let's face it is the norm, it was now. Put simply, Theresa May picked fights that didn't need to happen and as a result undermined her core message. Weak and wobbly replaced strong and stable, and it stuck. 

The only way was up for Jeremy Corbyn

After terrible by-election and council showings, everyone expected Corbyn's General Election campaign to be a shambles. They thought he would replicate the struggles of PMQs for eight weeks live into voters homes and they would judge him to be incompetent. 

On the contrary, mistakes were lapped up. 'You can't expect politicians to know all the sums like a school exam', said one woman as the Leader of the Labour Party forgot his childcare policy. 

Major character flaws were also brushed aside. So what if he wouldn't press the nuclear button, wanted to negotiate first with terrorists and refused to condemn the IRA. In the past, just one of these things would have floored a would-be PM, but not Jeremy. Why? Because to many he offered hope. He offered, albeit on the backs of the 'rich', pay rises to over-worked nurses, an end to hiked train tickets, no tuition fees, free childcare and competitive energy costs. These were policies people could see making things fairer and putting money in their pocket. Younger people in particular rallied to Corbyn's call as he put on a good campaign. Labour MP's, who once thought he would destroy the entire Labour movement, are loving him now. For how long, who knows when they're given time to think over the summer.

It wasn't automatic that people who voted Brexit would vote Conservative

Many people I'm sure did vote based on being a Brexiteer 12 months ago, but I could never see why they thought it would automatically transfer to a general election decision. People saw the issues as separate.

In the same way the Labour Party was misguided to think their supporters would just back remain because it was the party line, the Conservatives thought that those same people who voted Brexit would come flooding across to them. What happened was people looked at it like every other general election and the high proportion of people who voted Labour because that's what they do at a General Election, did just that. The UKIP vote, which people were convinced for years was just made up of narked Tories, also returned to voting Labour or someone else.

Polls, Polls, the Poll of Polls and you've guessed it more Polls...

Well, I know who should win the 2017 Man Booker prize for fiction. No-one expected the result because the polling companies were telling us something else. 

Now, opinion polls started out as a good thing; almost a novelty, but they're now a menace to fill the 24hr news-cycle. I don't even know why people bother commissioning them because as soon as they're released everyone goes out of their way to discredit the information. At one point two different companies had result 15 points apart. Who are they asking Conservative Central Office and Labour HQ staffers? As a serious point, there is now a trend for these polls to a) get it spectacularly wrong and b) shape people's thinking and behaviour in an election. This can't continue.


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