Ready, set, go – strategies for winning the general election

As the General Election campaign gets into full swing, Public Affairs Senior Account Director Jamie Slavin in our Public Affairs team takes a look at the issues on which each of the main two parties will be looking to fight. 

Here we go. For the third time in four years, the UK heads to the polls for a General Election.

It’s tempting at this point in a campaign to make predictions about the result. But if we’ve learned anything over the last few years, only a fool predicts anything about British politics. Or a pollster…

So instead, let’s take this moment, before the chaos of the campaign washes over us, to reflect on what strategies will provide the two major parties, whose leaders stand a genuine chance of being the next PM, with their best chance of emerging triumphant in the early hours of 13th December.

For the Tories, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the job is simple. This general election must be about Brexit – and a particular narrative around Brexit. Johnson must rebuff criticisms of his failure to deliver on his promise of an exit, ‘do or die’ on 31st October. He must position Labour, and the other opposition parties, as the barrier that prevented him delivering ‘the will of the people’. Johnson needs this election to be a referendum on his deal.

However, the chances of keeping domestic issues in the background are slim at best. After nine years of Conservative rule, the Prime Minister will be forced to spend at least part of this campaign defending a domestic record over which he has had virtually no control. It’s an unenviable position.

Instead, he will quickly want to move the conversation from the legacies of Cameron and May, to the focus that we have seen in policy announcements over the last few weeks – health spending, schools and prisons.

As for Labour, their chances of gaining a majority will rest squarely on making the election campaign only about domestic policy. From Corbyn’s lukewarm approach to the referendum campaign in 2016, to continued confusion over the Party’s exact policy now, divisions over Brexit have dogged Labour for three years. This is uncomfortable ground for Corbyn, and he will want to avoid it over the next six weeks.

Absolutely conversely, standing on an anti-austerity, pro-NHS, pro-nationalisation platform is where Corbyn feels happiest. As was shown during the 2017 election campaign, when talking about the issues over which he feels passionate, Corbyn is a formidable campaigner. He’ll want to energise young people, drive turnout among those who traditionally don’t vote, and throw the opposition off balance by promising radical, controversial policies.

Today, he launched the Labour election campaign in Battersea. His speech began, “If you want to live in a society that works for everybody and not just the billionaires, if you want to save our hospitals, schools and public services from Tory cuts and privatisation, if you want to stop the big polluters destroying our environment then this election is your chance to vote for it.”

Brexit? Less than ten lines buried in the middle of the speech.

The scene is set, the strategies clear. Roll on the next six weeks.`

Written by Jamie Slavin, Senior Account Director, Public Affairs

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