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"A bit of me says, can't help liking him.”

A Political Diary

Election Diary Week 3 , Westminster General Election , November 25, 2019
A Political Diary by Election Diary Week 3 20th November: Focus group consultants are guaranteed to bring one thing to a discussion. They keep it short and sharp. The late-night TV contributor from Britainthinks has a novel insight. Their company is being told that the lavish spending pledges from both major parties are lacking in authenticity.

Leaders debate is marred by ITV's introduction of trivialities at the end, Royal Family and Christmas presents. No errors made by either side. Yougov's instant poll declares, 51:49.

But it contained something new. The audience laughed when the subject turned to trust- the object of the laughter Johnson.

The passing of the Withdrawal Act is a sensible objective. However many voices try to counter the 4 syllables of “Get Brexit Done” it is probably going to stick. Simplicity knocks out complexity.

Wisdom has it a positive has an disadvantage over a negative. “Not going to sell off the NHS” is being repeated ad nauseam. The Labour faithful may buy it. It is easier than talking about the epidemics: depression, diabetes, dementia. But is “Tories are going to sell the NHS to US corporations” getting to the 13 million?

“Leadership is about listening to people.” That is Labour. Well, yes, to a point. But it's not the end of it, since the voices are discordant. Leadership has to get above the noise, and choose what stuff needs to be done. Plus assembling the coalition to make it happen.

21st: Watch Labour Manifesto live. I have heard political leaders on and off for a few decades.

The selection of vocabulary is new.

“Rigged, hate, hatred, rigged system, implacable opposition and hostility, rich and powerful, bad bosses, dodgy landlords, hostility, big polluters, sucking out profits, hostility, great rip off, implacable opposition, billionaire press, sell out working people, unleash Thatcherism on steroids, inflict pain, billionaires and vested interests, sell out, runaway privatisation, plotted in secret, censored secret talks, sell-out deal, toxic deal with Trump, trashing our economy, selling out the health service again, Thatcher wiped out...”

The quotations come from Roosevelt and Neruda. The Swansea tidal lagoon gets the go-ahead. But it will not feature in the summaries. None of this makes the evening news.

Few will be watching live. I do wonder how it fits culturally. Boos start for a BBC journalist. Corbyn: “no, no, we listen to all journalists with respect.”

Late night TV: “This is the manifesto he always wanted to write.”

Question Time audience: “Is this leading us firmly into the 1970s?”

22nd November: Article on polling. 2015 went wrong because of the shift to opt-in online surveys. Traditionally modelling is out. “Brexit has made occupational class redundant as a predictor of voting intention.”

Turnout is the big unpredictable value. Using multi-level regression and stratification (MRP) Yougov gave the Tories 274-345 seats in 2017. They got 317.

Report from the Hansard Society- Britain “has among the weakest systems for parliamentary control and influence over government expenditure in the developed world.”

In cafe cannot help hearing three friends at neighbouring table.

- “We're stuck with what we've got.”

- “Never voted for Conservatives. A bit of me says, can't help liking him.”

Evening 30 minutes apiece on BBC1 for Corbyn, Swinson, Sturgeon, Johnson. Just a small table for support, otherwise a bare space and an uninhibited Sheffield audience letting loose. Have never seen before a format of equivalent raw encounter between leaders and led. Cheered by it.

Q: “What plans have the Conservative party to eliminate people’s reliance on food banks and when will they be gone?”

A: “Of course we want to deal with not just the expression of poverty but also the causes of poverty. And that means dealing with educational standing. It means spreading ambition and hope around the country by investing in education and investing in social services.”

Online commentary turns on the reporters. “BBC, Sky and ITN...employing all kinds of dirty tricks...Tory policies are allowed to stand alone and be promoted unadulterated and without a hint of the widespread and vocal dissent and hostility to the Conservatives in this country.”
23rd November: Lampeter Christmas Fair. Live music, crafts, charities, civil society at its best. Ben Lake in his home town, deep in dialogue with young and old.

24th November: Marr Programme. Paul Johnson of the IFS “the funding of the care system has been a national disgrace for decades.”

Angela Raynor on repeat “we will put it to the people” over and over. No answer to loss of marriage tax allowance for 2 million people.

New policy from Labour: counter-inflationary tool of customer representatives on new supervisory boards to pass or veto prices rises.

At Aberystwyth Arts Centre for Carys Eleri. The Llwydd from the Senedd three seats away. I like public figures with a life on a Sunday outside politics and tell her so.

25th November: Nicky Morgan on radio on health; nuts and bolts operational detail for a change, how to prevent nurses leaving through disillusionment and burn-out.

Mark Drakeford in Wrexham: “I believe that when the history of our times is written, this general election will stand as a moment of profound and lasting change - a time when our nation, our economy, our public services and our planet set out on a different course.”

The problem here is that every election has always been described in these terms.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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