General Election Wash-Up
Everybody and their Sister seems to have written a “what went wrong” piece about the last General Election. I’ve avoided it so far because (a) nobody probably cares what I think and (b) I wanted to mull it over.
Having spent a few months doing so, my personal view is that it’s much simpler than many people think.
In the first instance I’d like to say that I think the Prime Minister was correct to call the election. The polls made it a safe gamble and she needed a strong majority to push Brexit through and get significant Parliamentary work done. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay off. But that doesn’t make it a bad idea. Just badly implemented.
So, in my view, the reason the General Election didn’t go as expected boils down to three things.
(1) It was an ideologically poor campaign. There wasn’t much “conservatism” in there. It was managerial and failed to inspire enthusiasm. In fact, there were some hostages to fortune, ill-conceived ideas that had no business appearing in any manifesto, let alone a Conservative one. But that alone wouldn’t have turned the tide.
(2) Theresa May made the entire election about her and how strong she was. This was a perfectly good thing to do, but she then needed to go ahead and BE strong in public appearances. Personally, I think she probably is strong, but the campaign did not showcase that. In fact, it did the opposite. And the danger of campaigning on strength is that if you can’t look like it’s true, the campaign crumbles. But that alone wouldn’t have turned the tide.
(3) The main reason is the choice to run a negative campaign. Don’t get me wrong, negative campaigns are just as effective as positive ones, in the right setting. But Theresa May called the early election, which suggested she thought she was going to win. A negative campaign revolves around demonstrating the dangers of the “other guy” getting elected. How can you reasonably suggest that disaster will happen if the other guy gets elected, when you called the early election in the first place? It doesn’t ring true. Though, in actual fact, it was closer to the truth than anybody knew!
Some readers may wonder why I don’t credit any of this to Jeremy Corbyn and Labour. Honestly, I really don’t. I think they were bit players who benefited from mistakes made on the Conservative side during the campaign. If they can be credited at all, it is for running a “safe” campaign that avoided their glaring weaknesses – and not being called on it. For the record, despite Corbyn’s current fairly good polling and Theresa May’s falling stats, I still don’t actually believe the country would ever vote for a Prime Minister Corbyn. I could be wrong, stranger things have happened. But I find it very hard to believe that the UK would commit itself to a financial and social basket case when it came to the crunch.
All just my opinion, of course, and many will disagree.