2017 General Election diary Day 4: Breaking pledges before the vote

So, about that whole one post a day thing during the election. I’d like to explain here that it was always an aspiration and never a firm commitment, but global circumstances have since arisen that will make it hard to meet that aspiration within the course of the campaign. Or in other words, I’m going to try and get an election post up here every day, but with lots of other things going on right now, there may well be more days like Thursday where I don’t quite get round to it, then Friday when I don’t have the time to write two posts, so we get slippage. The advantage of this approach is that there’s a good chance I’ll end up getting nowhere near 50 posts, and so this whole thing will end up seeming a lot shorter than it actually is in reality.

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So what’s happened since yesterday morning? Well, Theresa May’s still yet to encounter a member of the public in anything other than a carefully controlled, almost hermetically sealed environment. And if your answer to that involves invoking something about the security of the Prime Minister, then please have an explanation for her happily pounding the streets during the Witney by-election. Just like Cameron in 2015, her plan is for a campaign that runs through a series of Potemkin villages, safe in the knowledge that the press is too craven or cowed to challenge her on it. If anyone ever does get the chance to ask her a question, can I suggest ‘if we can have an early election because you want to overturn the results of the last one, why can’t we have another referendum on the EU?’

Any excuse to drag out an old favourite.

In other news, the likelihood of biscuit-related headlines fell sharply with the news that Eric Pickles will be standing down at this election. One thought that crosses my mind in relation to the number of MPs stepping down here is that it might present some interesting problems for the Tories at the next election, when the number of MPs are set to go down to 600 from 650. I’ve argued for a while that that’s not the big problem some people think it is because a lot of the shrinkage will be taken up by retiring MPs and rearranging the remaining candidates to fill the gaps. If, however, all those MPs who would have retired then have now gone, and been replaced by keen young things wanting to hold on, then there might be the problem of trying to fit far too many MPs into far too few winnable seats. (That’s the sort of thing that can fall into the category of ‘nice problems to have’ if it comes about, though)

Also in potential nice problems to have, if this election was to end with a potential coalition on the table, and if the coalition was to involved the Lib Dems, then there’d need to be a Lib Dem conference to approve the deal. (This, of course, is one reason why any sort of coalition involving the Lib Dems is ridiculously unlikely to happen) The trouble is that the Lib Dems now have a system where all members can come to conference and vote, and with a party membership now around 100,000 it could make the choice of venue interesting. I’m assuming Wembley Stadium will be free in June if needed?

We’re still in somewhat of a phony war period, shown most notably by the fact I can’t yet start doing election leaflet of the day because everything on the site is still local elections related. Whoever uploads the first general election leaflet on there will be noticed, but until then the best we have is weird pictures from a UKIP candidate and a Scottish Conservative candidate yet again showing why most fashion designers shy away from the repeated Union Flag as a style statement. All very slim pickings so far, but still a long long way to go…

Originally published at www.nickbarlow.com on April 22, 2017.

Many, many things. PhD student at QMUL. Councillor. Ran the 2019 London Marathon for Brain Research UK. @nickjbarlow on Twitter.

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