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General Election 2024 – First week analysis

Political obsessives, like all us professionals, can look at election campaigns in entirely the wrong way. We hoover up the daily news cycle like bottom feeding fish – the good and bad, the important and irrelevant – regularly attaching great significance to utterly mind numbingly ‘here today gone tomorrow’ trivia.

Normal people, aka real voters, in previous elections called ‘Mondeo man’ or ’Worcester woman’, only hear the ‘cut throughs’, those rare impactful statements that bob up amongst the noise either confirming their suspicions or changing their opinions.

So at the end of each week of the campaign, the REC team will bring you the ‘cut throughs’ of that week. If there's only one thing you ever need read in this election campaign, make it this weekly blog post and you will have all you need to know.

The ‘cut throughs’

So how did the first week go?

  • Tories – The surprise of the snap election, Sunak drenched on day one, no Rwanda flights before election day and a plan for national service, although that does significantly stretch the meaning of the word ‘plan’

  • Labour – Starmer promises “no new taxes”, which of course no one believes, Corbyn stands as an Independent, Diane Abbott prevented from standing at all

  • Reform – Farage declines to stand, immediately rendering their campaign almost dead on arrival, but tries to breathe life into it by banging on about immigration at Dover

  • Lib Dems – Ed Davey fell off a paddleboard (do the other parties have a sleeper agent in the Lib Dem campaign team?)

  • SNP and Greens – Nothing, nada, zilch, are they even taking part?

And that, dear reader, is the absolute maximum, and please underline ‘absolute maximum’, that any normal person will have heard. And even some of that probably did not land in voter consciousness.

Campaign analysis

So what does this tell us about the campaign so far?

In truth, Labour had a quiet start. Mainly because they were wrong footed by the snap election announcement, but also because that is their strategy anyway: say almost nothing and let the general unpopularity of the Tories gift them an election win. As a strategy it's not a bad one. But they will need to make some significant retail offers to the voting public in the coming days. They’ve tried to get back on track as week one continued by Starmer and Reeves banging out set piece speeches and revealing a list of business people who support them (big news, some business types who support Labour are going to vote Labour!), which can be read as them trying to seize back the media agenda from the Tories’ news grabbing national service moment.

For the Tories, there is a need to be noisy, to try to create the impression that after 14 long, hard years in power, they are still fizzing with good ideas. The reality is that this can smack of desperation. Any new retail offer to voters can often just be seen as a gimmick; national service, anyone?

One week in, five to go, and twists and turns to come for sure. Let's see if any of this actually moves the polls.

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