Election Post #5: Week Five

May 25, 2017

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Our thoughts are with those affected by the terrible and cowardly attack in Manchester on Monday night.
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The first debate of the campaign, albeit without Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn was held on Thursday, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both launched their manifestos and Jeremy Corbyn continued to call on Theresa May to take part in a television debate with him. The voter registration deadline passed on 22nd with no issues. On Monday night, a terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester killed 22 innocent people and injured a further 59, in light of this terrible attack, the national campaign for the election was suspended. On Tuesday night, the terror threat level was raised from severe to critical. 

The Conservative party launched its manifesto on Thursday with the party pledging an £8bn rise in spending on the NHS. Within a few days of the launch, Theresa May u-turned on a key policy, the so called 'dementia tax'. This quickly led to Mrs May facing humiliation and awkward questions during an interview with Andrew Neil. The party's manifesto vowed to cut immigration and promised a social care revolution. Divisions between Theresa May and Phillip Hammond have begun to surface but both have denied the rumours. Theresa May, however, has failed to say that she will keep Hammond in post if the Conservatives are returned to power on 8th June. Tory plans to cut free school meals led to some making the link between Mrs May and Margaret Thatcher, referring to her as 'lunch snatcher'. The Conservatives also launched their Scottish manifesto. As the polls appeared to narrow, the Prime Minister published a video on Facebook commenting that 'if I lose just six seats, then I lose this election'. 

For Labour, the Conservative manifesto provided some useful attack lines. Jeremy Corbyn promised that a future Labour government would be 'radical and responsible' whilst John McDonnell proclaimed that Labour would win the election on the back of 'pensioners abandoned by Theresa May'. Labour have made several attacks on the Conservatives with several high-profile figures in the party commenting that many of the proposed Conservatives policies are stolen from Labour's 2015 manifesto. John McDonnell expressed his unhappiness at the lack of full costings in the Conservative manifesto whilst First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones proclaimed that the 'nasty party' is back. On Monday, Tom Watson and Jeremy Corbyn launched their culture manifesto in Hull, promising a funding boost to the arts in order to find the 'next Stormzy and Adele'. Mr Corbyn also spoke in Goole and attended an event in Scarborough with former Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. 

The Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto promising to allow tenants to use rent payments to purchase their home. Mr Farron made calls for the Conservatives to scrap the 'dementia tax' and NHS staff in Manchester. The Green party also launched their manifesto, promising a four day working week and a universal basic income. A UKIP candidate has been suspended for sending racist tweets and one of the party's MEPs (and parliamentary candidate) has said that the party would 'act like the Vietcong in the trees', ensuring that the next government delivers Brexit. During the debate between the leaders on ITV, Paul Nuttall incorrectly referred to Leanne Wood as 'Natalie' on two occasions, with Wood angrily replying 'I'm not Natalie, I'm Leanne'. Nicola Sturgeon accused Mrs May of sending her 'spokesman', UKIP leader- Paul Nuttall, to the debate in her place. The leaders debate certainly felt strange without Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn but most of the attacks were aimed at the Conservatives with the Labour leader being mentioned very little. 

What are the polls saying?

After a good week and divisions appearing within the Conservative Party in the aftermath of their manifesto launch, Labour have made a sharp incline in the polls reaching their highest level in our rolling average since 1st April 2016 at just over 33 percent. A YouGov poll had the party on 35 percent, well up on their 2015 vote share and about level with their last winning share under Tony Blair in 2005. 9 out of the last 10 polls have had the party on or over 32 percent, a sharp improvement on their position when the election was called. Much of Labour's support seems to have come from smaller parties, particularly the Liberal Democrats and Greens as the Conservatives have remained well over 12 points clear of the official opposition on around 45 percent. Their share is still, however, slightly down on the 48 percent that they achieved in our average on 12th May. These figures would still deliver Mrs May a comfortable majority in the House of Commons, but significantly lower than some of the initial projections. 7 out of the last 10 polls have had the Conservatives on or above 45 percent, with their lowest score being 43 percent in a Survation poll. It remains to be seen if this increase for Labour will continue or whether it is simply a blip, akin to the 'wobble' that the Conservatives encountered in 1987 under Margaret Thatcher. For the Liberal Democrats, the polls suggest that the party has declined to levels below its 2015 nadir, none of the last 10 polls have had the party in double figures. UKIP's support remains at around 4 percent and the Greens have dropped to just over 1.5 percent. 

A Welsh barometer poll by YouGov fell in line with the national polls in terms of an increase for Labour and showed the party surging back into first place with a 10-point lead over the Conservatives after the last 2 Wales only polls had showed a Conservative lead. The Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party were all down on their 2015 share. On these figures, Labour would be in with at least an outside chance of taking Gower back from the Conservatives and would retain their historic position as the largest party in Wales.

There have been no polls from Scotland this week. 

 

Projection at the end of Week 5: Conservative Majority 84

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