July 13, 2024

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What’s next for Sunak and Starmer as the poll race heads into the second half?

What’s next for Sunak and Starmer as the poll race heads into the second half?

  • author, Chris Mason
  • Role, Political editor

The general mood of the general election campaigns of the two major parties does not tell us what might happen on the Fourth of July.

But as we pass the halfway point on the long road to polling day, it gives us a solid sense of how candidates, strategists and officials believe this election will go their way.

Right now, the mood of the Conservative and Labor campaigns could not be more different.

Even Labour’s most capable members, long determined to avoid complacency, are beginning to admit that they believe government is within their reach.

Even the most loyal Sanakis, who had long been convinced that voters during the election campaign would see the qualities they saw in their prime minister, began to acknowledge that the long-awaited narrowing of the gap between the two parties had simply not happened. – At least not yet.

The stark response from one prominent conservative to the campaign so far has been “absolutely terrible,” “no clear message or strategy.”

They criticized the “good aides” working for Rishi Sunak, who they said were not realistic about his strengths and weaknesses before thrusting him into the heart of what has so far been seen as a presidential-style campaign.

Soft Labor vote?

Some conservative candidates say the election result will be closer than many expect.

But few people, even half-heartedly, privately claim that the overall result is within everyone’s reach anymore.

One candidate said that the prevailing pessimism in the party had sparked a vicious circle.

“People have stopped campaigning,” they said.

“Many colleagues have never taken their seats before. When morale is low, there is nothing you can do.”

Another influential conservative made a similar argument.

However, some conservatives insist that the true picture of national support is not as dire as some models predicting near-total annihilation suggest.

“The Labor vote is softer than people think,” one source said.

“In parts of England, strong Labor voting – people who say they will definitely vote Labour – is no different from 2019.

“What’s different is that there are too many conservatives who are undecided. The problem is how do you convince these people to come out when apathy is so high?”

The joy of Faraj’s reconnaissance

The new message, led by Grant Shapps, the Defense Secretary, warning of the consequences of a Labor supermajority, may have been aimed at finding ways to give those undecided a reason to vote Tory.

It was arguably the biggest moment of the third week of the campaign and a strategy from a campaign that appears to have run out of better ideas.

Nigel Farage’s decision to become leader of the UK Reform Party and run for the seat himself has been one of the campaign’s biggest moments to date.

The Conservative Party’s worst nightmare has come true.

On Thursday evening, minutes before the start of the latest election debate on ITV, YouGov poll appeared The reform put the UK one percentage point ahead of the Conservatives for the first time.

Not surprisingly, Farage happily seized on this, telling the ITV audience: “We are now opposed to Labour.”

“This is the turning point. The only voice lost now is the Conservative voice,” he added in an online video.

But psychologically, this is the last thing conservatives need.

Comment on the photo, Nigel Farage is making the most of a reform poll bounce

At the same time, there is a tangible boom in the Labor Party.

Campaign insiders say the first three weeks have gone smoothly, but insist this was not the product of springing into action after Sunak’s surprise decision to go to the polls.

“Things are going so well because of how carefully things have been framed for so long,” one campaign source said.

“This is a step change in standards, in professionalism. It is a cultural change that Kerr has brought. Everything is being done right.”

Labour’s campaign was not without its fluctuations.

The saga over whether Diane Abbott will be Labour’s candidate has disrupted the party’s news network, and there was frustration at the top of the party over Sir Keir Starmer’s failure to immediately refute Sunak’s tax attack in his first televised debate last week.

“It was good for us in some ways, because it reminded people that not everything will go as planned,” a senior official said.

For some on Labour’s left – as one protester pointed out early in Sir Keir’s speech at the launch of the manifesto – the absence of radical new policies in the manifesto threatens to dampen turnout among left-wingers.

Sir Keir embraced this criticism in his speech, saying that the stability in his program was evidence of the stability he would bring to government.

That’s why Labor chose to launch its manifesto at the same venue in Manchester where Sir Keir unveiled his ‘five tasks’ for government in February 2023, with messaging broadly similar to today’s.

Action prepares for power

Comment on the photo, The euro will distract from the elections

The party prides itself on what it calls “ground warfare” — the pavement pounding, the door-knocking, the fliers flying away from the cameras.

Privately, the party believes its operations and data collection are much better than those of the Conservatives.

As for the “air war” – what you will see in the media coverage – it will be the same events and certainly the same message.

But Sir Keir’s visits over the coming days will take place in constituencies with a larger Conservative majority than those he has visited so far, the BBC understands, representing a clear show of confidence.

Activists are also encouraged to focus their energies on more and more ambitious target seats.

One interesting development in the next few weeks, which will not escape senior Labor officials, is the start of the European Football Championship.

This would attract attention and emotion, disrupt television schedules, and distract people at the point where the election campaign reaches its climax.

How to campaign in an inevitably partisan manner, when people gather, especially in England and Scotland, to watch football, is a major challenge.

Some at the top of the Labor Party have begun to think, if somewhat subtly, about the aftermath of the Fourth of July as well.

Senior staff still do not know for sure what jobs they will fill in Downing Street if Labor wins, but Sue Gray, Sir Keir’s chief of staff, spent much of the election campaign at party headquarters preparing detailed plans for the government.

Some shadow ministers have taken time out from the election campaign to hold “access talks” with civil servants in Whitehall.

There are logistical questions about a Labor government too.

For example: Will they allow MPs to take their traditional six-week summer vacation?

While plans have not yet been made in this regard, the answer appears to be a resounding no.

“We can’t miss the opportunity to hit the ground running,” one Labor source said.