Maitland Political: General Election Briefing – 19 May 2017

19th May 2017

Good afternoon,

Today we see politicians and activists return to the hard slog of campaigning after the launch of the party manifestos earlier this week.

Theresa May will be pleased with the reception to “her” manifesto, even if she does deny she is ushering in a different Conservatism to her predecessors. The Conservatives’ plans have largely passed the test with the press and political commentators, despite their enthusiasm for greater state intervention, their break away from the traditional Tory pitch to middle class and older voters, and their lack of costings for their proposals.

A manifesto should be fully-costed for voters to be convinced of the economic credibility of the proposals, but both Labour and the Conservatives have struggled with coming up with concrete figures in their manifestos. Labour, however, was the only one to really receive criticism for it—perhaps because they tend not to be given the benefit of the doubt on economic competence in the way that the Conservatives are.

May is instead focusing on her attempt to recast the centre ground, exploiting the need for stability in the midst of Brexit and in so doing win over votes in Labour’s vulnerable heartland seats. It was not insignificant that she chose to launch the manifesto in Halifax. The incumbent Labour MP, Holly Lynch, is defending a majority of just 428 over the Conservatives, whilst the area voted 55% Leave to 45% Remain last June. The seat has only turned its face to the Conservatives in 1959 and 1983 – both times when Labour was at its most radical.

The other parties had a chance to put their stamp on the election during ITV’s debate yesterday evening, but instead found themselves eclipsed by the absence of May and Corbyn—an absence which debate chair Robert Peston branded ‘pathetic’.

Whilst May’s harsher immigration proposals have been heavily criticised by businesses and universities, UKIP are working to differentiate themselves on the issue – they want stricter and tighter controls. Despite this, the debate lacked any real controversy, even if it did gain a mystery leader in the form of ‘Natalie’…Paul Nuttall apparently didn’t catch Leanne Wood introduce herself as, well, Leanne.

To download our full Friday General Election briefing, please click here.