Didn’t get a chance to write last night, so at some point over the next few days there’ll be two diary posts in a day to get me back on track. Or pressures of work mean I’ll just end up slipping even more and this diary continuing on an irregular basis until we reach the conclusion in July. In which case, I will ask for no spoilers of the result until I come to write my post about it. I’m sure that’s doable.
We’re at a stage where we’re getting more surprises at people not standing in the election than from any surprise announcements of people deciding to stand. Joining the march to permanent exit from the House of Commons yesterday was Douglas Carswell, who decided that as the Tories wouldn’t take him back his work was now done, he wouldn’t be standing for election in Clacton again. Speculation then centred around whether Nigel Farage would put himself up to the task of defending the only seat UKIP have won at a general election until he announced that although he would absolutely definitely honestly with no doubts whatsoever would have won the seat, he would instead be concentrating on his work in the European Parliament. Yes, the man who’s tried seven times to get elected to Parliament and views the job he’s actually been elected to do as little more than a source of funding that he hardly ever turns up to has suddenly had a Damascene conversion to the importance of his job. It’s an act so brazen it threatens to replace ‘killing your parents and demanding mercy because you’re an orphan’ as the definition of chutzpah. Still, the one thing we can thank Carswell and Farage for is making Arron Banks’s campaign for Clacton even more pointless and ridiculous, and throws more attention onto the Tory selection there, where previous Tory candidate Giles Watling (brother of Deborah, who was Victoria in Doctor Who) is being challenged by Tendring Council leader Neil Stock.
Away from the Sunshine Coast, Jeremy Corbyn was launching Labour’s campaign by threatening to tear up the rules and win a surprise victory. Rule-breaking by him would not be unexpected as it’s been a feature of his leadership with such rules as ‘Labour can’t drop below 25% in opinion polls’ and ‘leaders who don’t have the confidence of 80% of their MPs resign’ being thrown out of the window recently. A few people have pointed to the recent surge in support for Jean-Luc Melenchon in France as an exampleof how a Left candidate can do well, but it’s worth noting that Melenchon’s surge has taken him to just under 20% in the polls, which is the sort of level that’s very good for the Left, but would promise electoral disaster for Labour.
(And on a trivial point, was Corbyn’s launch at the Islington Assembly Rooms? I thought I recognised it as the venue where the 2015 Lib Dem leadership election was announced)
Elsewhere, Theresa May’s promise to campaign amongst the people saw her team not telling the media where she was going, then doing a few photo ops in a factory. As yet, there’s still no record of her being in a position where she might face anything at all spontaneous, challenging or risky nad the Guardian’s election blog has already taken to calling her ‘Theresa May of Mystery’.
Now the election’s upon us, a reminder that the Election Leaflets website exists, as in weeks to come it will be being relied upon quite frequently as a source of content for these diary posts. If you get something through your door, take a picture of it and upload it for all the world to see. It’s a good chance to see what’s being said in different places, or just to see what strange things candidates say and what odd images they choose to represent themselves.
Three days done and we’ve yet to descend into Quatermass and The Pit-style mass barbarism in the streets, let’s hope we can keep that streak going for a while.
Originally published at www.nickbarlow.com on April 21, 2017.