This column was originally published in The Wokingham Paper of Thursday, November 14, the day nominations for the 2019 General Election closed
… finally decided – that’s later today (Thursday, November 14).
Yes, this Election’s got off to a flying stop as the parties seem to have been caught with their manifestoes down, some without a candidate even.
And from what’s gone on so far, national behaviour is on a par with the last election as both Truth and Decency are on the casualty list already.
And that’s why these election commentaries will be taking a light-hearted approach to what’s going on.
Breakfasting on lunch
Not one but two magic money trees have been trotted out and it’s only the first week.
‘We’ have prudent investment plans for our country’s services and infrastructure to safeguard the future while ‘They’ are spending recklessly and will take us into an abyss of debt and disaster.
Both Labour and Conservative parties are planning to increase borrowing and both will claim to be ‘we’ while denouncing the other lot as ‘they’.
Moody’s, an American credit rating agency, doesn’t care and has downgraded the UK Government’s credit rating. This means the country can’t borrow quite as much and it’s likely to cost more, also that our children and their children will still be neck-deep in debt long after this lot are history.
After a few days of faltering, haphazard and downright stinky attempts to vilify or demonise the Labour party, on Sunday the Chancellor of the Exchequer went on national TV and did a very creditable job of burying himself.
As interviewer, Andrew Marr got increasingly tetchy with Sad Jav’s approach and pointed out that he’d priced up Labour’s manifesto even though it wasn’t published yet. Also that he’d not costed his own.
Undeterred, Sad Jav banged on about some dodgy dossier and when challenged on his credibility (offering tax cuts AND more spending while keeping to fiscal rules), got a bit huffy and wouldn’t go into any specifics.
Pressed harder as to how he planned to fund everything and his face and voice told a story. Probably that even he didn’t believe what he was currently saying.
“So we’re going into a blind election economically” was Marr’s retort and he asked again “So what’s the figure for extra debt?”
After failing to deflect this disastrous interview onto some sunlit economic uplands, things got even worse.
Only this time it was government refusal to publish another dossier “into the use of Russian money by the Conservative Party. Big donors, Russian donors, oligarchs connected to the Kremlin”.
With raw nerves giving way to blind terror, denials came tumbling out “officials … decide on … redactions” then “of course we will always follow those rules” before Marr delivered the coup de grace “a lot of people are thinking can they trust this election? Is there dirty money?” before reminding Sad Jav of his appointment at the Cenotaph.
The BBC have taken the unusual step of publishing a verbatim transcript of the interview.
Potpourri of the week
In Bracknell, Tory high command have parachuted in a candidate for the election because the local party hadn’t got round to making their own choice.
A welcome for Col James Sunderland from Aldershot, but a setback for Bracknell local Mark Brunel-Walker, the councillor who spearheaded the Lexicon shopping centre project for Bracknell Forest Council.
In Wokingham, the local Labour team have selected Annette Medhurst, a Woosehill resident, to challenge not one but two former ministers and MPs. In a constituency that’s only had three Conservative MP’s since its creation in 1950, faint heart never won fair seat – it’s going to be a bit of challenge.
In Reading East, the local Conservative team were much quicker off the mark and Woodley-born Craig Morley is their chosen candidate. Having survived a tsunami of national and international attention over the choice of Melrose rather than Reading Abbey for his facebook picture, his sunny disposition is undimmed as a recent posting on his facebook page shows.
In Maidenhead, the local Liberal Democrat team have chosen Joshua Reynolds as their prospective candidate to compete with former Conservative leader and PM, Theresa May. Given that votes for Mrs May have increased at every election since 2001 and currently stand at nearly 38,000, one can easily see why this decision might be “an experience” for her Lib Dem opponent.
Nationally, the Brexit Party Limited has scaled back their Nov 4th announcement of contesting over 600 seats by “withdrawing” from 317 to help Conservatives deliver Brexit. Apparently, this included Wokingham where they’d never considered standing, but it has come as a blow to other prospective candidates in e.g. Bracknell. Don’t be surprised if they ask for help in return or if their numbers change again.
The Last Word
In a week where a former Senator has demonstrated her superb judgement, her fine understanding of Brexit and our electoral process, she’s ended up saying that she’s “dumbfounded”. Two of Salisbury Cathedral’s spire admirers have agreed with her on the first syllable and are said to be waiting for tourist advice on the rest.
Apart from the last bit, you couldn’t make this stuff up (or stuff-up depending on your disposition).