Election Post #2: Week Two

May 2, 2017

Week two of the campaign kicked off with Tim Farron finally saying that he believes that gay sex isn't a sin and UKIP descending into chaos as their foreign affairs spokesman, James Carver, quit the party. Party Leader, Paul Nuttall, announced that he would be standing in Boston and Skegness and blogger Jack Monroe was selected as the National Health Action candidate in Southend West. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn faced each other at Prime Minister's Question Time for what could be the final time on Wednesday 26th April and parliament was prorogued on Thursday 27th.

Theresa May has been accused of hiding from the public as several of her campaign events have been hidden from the media. Mrs May has continued to position herself as being 'a safe pair of hands' and has repeatedly used the mantra of 'strong and stable leadership’ during speeches. Boris Johnson caused some controversy when he referred to Jeremy Corbyn as a 'mutton-headed old mugwump' in an article published in The Sun. Zac Goldsmith's candidacy in Richmond Park raised some eyebrows but on the whole, the Conservatives remain united. Mrs May has visited several constituencies, including the rock-solid Labour seat of Leeds East, with its 12,533 vote majority before heading north of the border to the SNP held constituency of Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine with a majority of 7,033. Visits to these two seats clarify the Conservative Party's ambitions to take traditional Labour seats in the North and make a breakthrough in Scotland. The Prime Minister refused to rule out tax increases during an interview with Andrew Marr and, whilst speaking in Scotland with Ruth Davidson, she urged Scottish voters to vote Conservative to 'strengthen the union'. A leaked account of a meeting between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker has been dismissed by Mrs May as 'Brussels gossip' and a government spokesman stated that they 'do not recognise the account'.

On the Labour side, Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to find £3bn to increase school budgets and defended his leadership style in a speech in East London. Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell has committed Labour to outlawing zero-hours contracts if it wins the election. On the campaign trail, Jeremy Corbyn has visited Conservative held Harlow with an 8,350 majority and spoken at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) conference in Telford. Party donor, Michael Foster has threatened to stand in Islington North, commenting that Mr Corbyn is leading the Labour Party to 'annihilation'. Labour also announced that Mr Corbyn will not be appearing in television without Theresa May.

At the final Prime Minister's Question Time of the 56th parliament of the United Kingdom, the leader of the opposition chose to question Mrs May on the NHS, School Funding and Pensions. Several senior Labour figures have called for a 'progressive alliance' in which Labour stand down in some seats to allow other progressive parties a better chance at victory but this looks highly unlikely. The party's National Executive Committee has refused to allow Simon Danczuk (suspended in December 2015) to stand as a Labour candidate. Sir Kier Starmer attacked the Prime Minister in the wake of the leaked account of her meeting with Jean-Claude Junker commenting that her 'rigid and complacent approach to Brexit negotiations risks leading Britain over a cliff edge.' Overall, the week has been relatively positive for Labour with a series of policy announcements and a few mistakes by the Conservatives campaign that they have been able to capitalise on. 

The Liberal Democrats have had another bad week with the party preventing former MP, David Ward, standing as a Liberal Democrat in Bradford East following remarks that Tim Farron referred to as 'offensive and antisemitic'. In a bizarre twist and possibly a ploy to try and win over some Liberal Democrat leaning voters in the West Country, Tim Farron described himself as a 'bit of a Eurosceptic' during an interview with Andrew Marr. UKIP has vowed to scrap VAT on Fish and Chips and abolish the TV licence fee; the party's campaign launch on Friday was disrupted by protestors. The Green Party has called for talks with the Liberal Democrats and Labour to form a 'progressive alliance' and has announced its intention to stand down in some seats. Nicola Sturgeon has taken aim at the Conservatives, commenting that 'voting SNP will stop the Tories getting a free ride. It will strengthen Scotland's hand at Westminster and ensure the Scottish Parliament's voice isn't silenced.' Plaid Cymru has also begun its campaign, with Leanne Wood stating that Labour is 'too weak and divided to stand up for Wales'. Ms Wood also announced that she will not be standing for election. 

What are the polls saying?

The second week of the campaign has seen Labour increase its position in the polls to around 28.5 percent with the Conservatives remaining firmly ahead at 46.7 percent. Three polls, all conducted between 26th and 28th April, had Labour on or above 30 percent. This is the first time that the party has achieved a rating of or higher than 30 percent since February and this figure is roughly the same as the share of the vote that they received in 2015. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues in the polls during the coming week and whether the average Conservative lead begins to drop. On these figures, the swing towards the Conservatives would still be around 5 percent and would see Labour drop below 200 seats for the first time since 1935. The Liberal Democrats have declined slightly in our average to 9.5 percent with UKIP sitting on 6.8 percent. The Greens once again remain static, their projected share rising very slightly compared to 2015.

YouGov released a Scotland-wide poll at the beginning of the week which once again showed the SNP in a commanding first place at 41 percent and the Conservatives in second place on 28, Labour on 18 percent, the Lib Dems on 7, the Greens on 3 and UKIP on 2. These figures suggest that the Conservatives are on course for around 10 seats in Scotland, a record since 1992. They also suggest that Angus Robertson is in trouble in Moray. Scottish Labour has denied that it is only targeting three seats whilst the Conservatives are looking to target an ambitious 12 Scottish seats. 

There have been no polls from Wales this week. 

Projection at the end of week two: Conservative Majority of 128.

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