This week finally sees the launches of the Parties manifestos. You will be thinking – what is there to launch? Haven’t they all laid out their messages enough already and pre announced most of the things we are likely to see?
This year more than ever with the Fix Term Parliament it does feel as though the pace of the campaigns are more predictable and with a 6 week campaign it does feel a little late in the day to be launching these manifestos. But a lot of work goes into crafting these to fit with the overall messaging and campaign themes. It is not always the case. In the 2007 election that never was I was tasked on a late Friday afternoon of getting my sports manifesto into the Party by 3.30pm ahead of a possible election announcement over the weekend. Of course it never happened but my part of the manifesto was written on a Nokia organiser in a car park in Birmingham.
As I keep pointing out I received today’s campaign through the lens of a full day at work – mainly in and around Loughborough University. Being in back to back meetings all day is not conducive to following these things carefully. I was reduced today to snatching a few moments of BBCRadio 5 Live and a quick glance at twitter. So today is even more of a case of seeing the election through the eyes of the media commentators.
Overall then it seems as though the Labour launch did what was necessary. The news headlines were about the need for measured austerity from Labour and a sense of some reassurance that they get it! Clearly those who don’t trust Labour with the economy are going to dismiss the message but the Don’t knows need to hear enough to know Labour is serious about the deficit but not ideologically transfixed on reducing it by a fixed date (which Osborne has failed to meet anyway – actually hitting the target set out by Alistair Darling in 2010 which the Tories said was too timid!).
Unlike most people I have downloaded the manifesto and do intend to read, as I will the ones from the other main parties. However, like most people I haven’t actually read it yet but I am blogging about it or talking about it as though I have!
As I commented yesterday the deficit and the level of austerity required to balance the books is the elephant in the room for this election. With the Tories seemingly throwing spending commitments around like confetti ahead of their manifesto launch it was left to Labour to keep promising to bear down on the deficit. This does leave us all a little confused and without a great deal of detail – leaves us all a little sceptical. Listening to voters on Radio 5 Live it as clear they could see through these smoke and mirrors too!
Finally the polls and my predictions from today. As always the polls are a snapshot of today and don’t represent what people might do in 3 weeks time. However, there was another ‘outlier’ today with the Tories on 6% lead on 39% in one poll. The other Ashcroft poll still had them tied on 33%. So some Tories will get very excited by anything that doesn’t show the election slipping away but my usual health warning about the off rogue polls still applies. Don’t get excited. There will be another outlier along soon showing you 6% behind!
As I have been saying to clients all along – the fun starts after May 7th for those of us who love to watch politics. The make up of the next government still seems to lie in what deals can be done and to that extent still relies heavily on the number of seats Labour or the Tories can get to in order to be the largest party. Without the SNP surge I would be predicting Labour at about the 300+, but with losses in Scotland possibly matching gains in England the 270-280 range still seems the most likely.
And as for sport. Very little today in the Labour manifesto. I am hoping there will be a separate Sport Manifesto along before election day as we did in 2010. I seriously hope so! Although to be fair – the manifestos over my last 20 years have never really had much space for sport!