UK General Election

Horror in the capital, but the election circus continues for the moment

BY Joseph Rachman   /  29 November 2019

The terrorist incident on London Bridge today has overshadowed any political and general election news. Depending on how events develop campaigning may even be temporarily suspended. In terms of how this will affect the election at this stage it is impossible to predict.

If the terrorist was motivated by radical Islam concerns about Jeremy Corbyn’s links with extremist figures and perceived weakness on national security could gain prominence. However, while Conservatives usually have the advantage on law and order issues they are vulnerable to accusations they have put the public in danger via police cuts, as happened in 2017. Equally, should the terrorist prove to be from the far-right one can expect the usual commentariat anxiety about whether Brexit is fuelling the rise of extremism.

Returning to the campaign itself the Conservative’s petty squabbles with various media outlets are continuing to accumulate. The party has complained to Ofcom over the choice to replace Boris Johnson with an ice sculpture at last night’s debate after he refused to appear, and the channel’s refusal to let Michael Gove represent the party’s views in his stead. The squabble over whether Johnson will be interviewed by Andrew Neil continues as well with the BBC having rebuffed the Conservative’s suggestion Johnson might instead be interviewed by Andrew Marr this weekend. The BBC has also complained about Conservative use of its footage in a way it deems misleading for a political advertisement.

As these rows rumble on some are even suggesting this is even a deliberate tactic on the part of the Conservatives. At a time when trust in the media is running low a few tiffs, which are bound to be well reported given the media’s self-obsession, could play well with pro-Brexit parts of the public. On the other hand it does seem somewhat counter-intuitive to imagine alienating an important opinion forming constituency is a good move. Still all this is speculation and the incidents could equally plausibly be put down to this being a singularly bad-tempered election at a time of high political tensions.

Meanwhile, Labour seems to be on the defensive and switching its strategy. Insiders have suggested that Labour miscalculated, overestimating the threat of Labour Remain voters defecting to the Liberal Democrats while underestimating the willingness of Labour Leave voters to ditch Labour.

The party is giving greater prominence to Labour politicians who support Leaving with a deal and less to those supportive of Remain. Activist activity is also going to be bolstered in Leave supporting areas. Still for the moment at least fears seem to not be of a wipeout so much as losing just enough ground to not be able to deprive Johnson of a majority.


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