Wednesday 22 May 2024

Rishi Sunak's big Election gamble

 This afternoon, I went to the gym at around 2pm. I was listening to music in the car after lunch. I did my 5km row, my 12.5km cycle, 10 minutes in the Sauna, half an hour in the Jacuzzi, a quick run around to the studio in the car with music on. I sat down to do some paperwork, only to be greeted by the news that Rishi Sunak had called an election. I was completely taken aback. My money had been on October. This morning, there were inflation figures were good and we had a bunch of tweets from the Tories celebrating this. I nearly wrote a blog saying that this almot guarantees an October election, as things are improving and we may all feel more optimistic after a holiday and a few months where things picked up.

So why has he taken this big punt? He has one more month worth of inflation figures. He must expect these to be good. Wages are now rising faster than inflation, again adding to the prospect of a feel good factor, but this has fed through to no one I know. There really is no feel good factor around the country. 

One interesting factor is that it is bang smack in the middle of the Football Euro's tournament. The round of sixteen is a couple of days before. Half of the country may will be glued to the telly and not exactly keen on having people knocking on the door. There will also be a month where the news cycle will see the campaigns competing with the football. As the tournament will not have concluded, there is no real prospect of a bounce if England win. As the polls show Sunak has to change a lot of people's minds, it strikes me as a silly time to do it. Just a personal feeling, but many canvassers as well as voters will not be receptive to knocking on or having their doors knocked on. This reinforces my view that Rishi Sunak does not really understand ordinary people, who were looking forward to the football and then the summer. 

I sat in studio reception for a couple of hours after the gym. The main response of my customers was total apathy. My whatsapp was alight with messages. From the sublime to the ridiculous, with one friend suggesting that Rishi Sunak was quitting for the Chelsea job. 

I am not taking a huge Labour victory for granted. I checked my blog from when Theresa May called an election in 2017. I made a series of predictions. I made a series of predictions, most of which I'd have put my house on but were completely wrong. The campaign changed things completely changed the landscape and that may well happen again.

So what were they and how did I do?

Big Tory majority. - Totally wrong. The Tories lost their majority
Lib Dem gains in pro remain areas 50ish seats - Wishful thinking
Labour reduced to core areas - Againg totally wrong. Labour did far better than expected, largely due to young people, who upset the pollsters model
SNP to maintain stranglehold on Scotland - This was spot on
Greens to poll well - Again wishful thinking
The Borough of Barnet to stay blue - Spot on

Like many, when the election was called I misread the mood of the country. I didn't realise the strong appeal of Corbyn to a failed generation of students and recently left Uni.  I also misread the mood in LibDem and Green target seats. It was a binary choice in England. Corbyn didn't switch soft Labour voters to them.

Given that Theresa May's dream soon became a nightmare, what could turn Keir Starmer's dream into one? I am struggling to see anything, but here are a few possible things.

1. World events causing widespread panic and moving people away from a change agenda.

2. A seismic Labour scandal. The Tories and Labour always have a few up their sleeves. The Tories may decided that a nuclear option may be worth the risk of a Labour tit for tat. The Tories voters are almost immune to any more scandals.

3. The public decides that Labour are not what they seem and Rishi Sunak has hidden talents that none of us have henceforth realised.

No, I can't see it either, but you never know. In truth, I am glad he's called it. I just want to see the back of this awful administration. 

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