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The rocky start to the Conservative campaign continued today. With the party under pressure over a string of alleged “gaffes” and blunders, Boris Johnson attempted to get it back on track with a keynote speech formally launching the Tory bid for a majority.
Speaking in front of Number 10, the Prime Minister echoed and reinforced many of the contents of an article that had been emblazoned on the front of The Daily Telegraph. He stated that the election will be a “choice” between a resolution to Brexit, free enterprise, and the promotion of freedom abroad on the one hand, and for “dither and delay” on Brexit, high taxes, and a Corbyn-McDonnell duo cosying up to the Kremlin on the other.
If political campaigns are about generating momentum, the Tories are in a spot of trouble. They have been bogged down by calamity in recent days. Despite the Prime Minister’s efforts, his hope of whipping up campaigning vim has been overshadowed by a series of “scandals” which have involved senior Conservatives.
Yesterday, Jacob Rees-Mogg said in an interview on LBC radio with Nick Ferrari that those in the Grenfell tower fire with “common sense” would not have followed instructions from members of the fire brigade to stay in their homes during the fire. This was made worse when Andrew Bridgen MP attempted to defend Rees-Mogg’s comments on BBC Radio 4 soon after. There was much media outrage. Both have subsequently apologised.
If this was an inauspicious start, then it has been compounded by further problems today. Allegations of dishonesty were thrown the way of CCHQ after they were accused of doctoring footage of an interview which Kier Starmer conducted this morning. Meanwhile, Welsh secretary Alun Cairns quit his post after claims that he lied about knowing a former Welsh Assembly member was involved in sabotaging a rape trial. When political woes come, it seems they do not come in single spies but in whole battalions.
Then there was the somewhat strange article written by Johnson in the Telegraph, which has invoked a frenzy of criticisms. Some have argued that comparisons which Johnson made between Jeremy Corbyn and Joseph Stalin are crass and unfair, though they did not always specify whether this was more insulting to Jeremy or to Joseph.
The truth, however, is that while these scandals have embarrassed the Conservatives, it does not mean that this will have any tangible impact upon their prospects. There is not as yet yet any indication whether or not these apparent “humiliations” will actually play much beyond the Westminster media bubble.