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General Election Week 3 – The inflection point?

In some campaigns there is a key moment which determines the end result. Could last week’s D-Day moment be that inflection point?

Two years ago we were saying to our clients that the Tories still, just about and with their fingers crossed, had a narrow path to victory. But they needed three things to go right for them: interest rates to come down quite quickly (as was then predicted), the extra funding ploughed into the NHS targeted at post-Covid waiting lists to take effect (completely undermined by the medical unions’ strikes), and flights taking off to Rwanda (prevented by endless lawfare from Left opponents). So none of these of course happened.

Until a few weeks ago, we were pointing out to our clients that despite the commentariat very confidently predicting an easy landslide, Labour still had a tough battle to be at their needed 12.5 points ahead of the Tories in the polls on election day. But there was a caveat: “unless the Tories imploded”.

Could we be witnessing that Tory implosion? There are five obvious cock ups that give clear reason for posing that question:

First, the seemingly crazy timing of the General Election itself. Going against almost any logic, and allegedly against his seasoned election strategist’s advice, Sunak went much earlier than anyone was expecting. And this isn't working out for them.

Second, the launch debacle. To allow your party leader to stride out to the No 10 rostrum to launch his surprise General Election and then get utterly drenched in a downpour with New Labour’s ‘things can only get better’ anthem booming in the background set the media narrative from the off, reeking of utter incompetence, underlining the suggestion that the campaign team around Sunak has no idea what they’re doing.

Third, the Farage factor. The Tories were cock-a-hoop early on because Noisy Nigel had opted for a payday commentating on the US Presidential election rather than leading Reform in the UK. As the polls didn't budge for the Tories, and Reform’s polling kept climbing, Farage seemingly changed his mind and swapped US fame for Clacton on Sea. This very well might have been the ‘implosion moment’ for the Tories; their ‘core vote’ strategy, targeting traditional small c conservative voters, probably went up in smoke right there and then. And arguably this is another consequence of the first cock up: if Sunak had called the election for October, when the US Presidential campaign will be at its height, Farage is much more likely to have stayed Stateside to help his best-mate Donald. By going early, Sunak allowed Farage to have both: Clacton now and, win or lose, he can still spend the autumn achieving adulation and money in the US. Madness.

Fourth, we come to the D-Day farrago. We have been joking for some time that with Ed Davey’s ‘It's A Knockout’ photo op election campaign, perhaps a Tory activist had infiltrated the Lib Dem campaign team and was working as a sleeper agent. The REC team now thinks that maybe the opposite is true: is the Tory campaign team actually trying to deliver the worst result in history for the Tories?

Finally, there is the snoozefest of the manifesto. All pre-briefed. Nothing new. No big eye catching ideas. No exciting new tax cut. Just bland dullness.

Labour is not having an easy election, slipping up daily on too many of its own banana skins. But they could probably fill their manifesto full of typos, put an excerpt from War and Peace in the middle of it, and use the word Bahrain instead of Britain, and perhaps the voters still wouldn't notice. Or maybe even care. Frankly they can sit back and relax while the Tories shoot 12 bore sized holes in both feet on a daily basis. It's an old adage that ‘oppositions don't win elections, sitting governments lose them’. We are watching this saying play out in all its glory.

Things can only get better?

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