EIGHT days to go and the political garlic hangs heavy on the nation’s breath. Don’t know about you but I am feeling all politicked out by a campaign which has said little in proportion to the noise that’s been made.
Let’s catch up with the overnight stories. Theresa May inserted a curious image into her dreary drone of a campaign. She said that Jeremy Corbyn would be “naked in the negotiating chamber” when the Brexit talks start next month.
This slight was presumably a dig at Corbyn’s anti-nuclear stance and nodded to a statement famously used in 1957 by Labour’s Nye Bevan against unilateralists on the left of his party.
The thing is, Theresa, virtually no ordinary voter will know what you are talking about. Instead they will be left wondering why Corbyn would choose to go to a meeting without wearing clothes. That sort of thing only happens in weird dreams, but then politics now often seems like a weird dream.
And in this dream, Theresa May is our own Lady Godiva riding naked on a moth-eaten old cart horse. Or maybe she’s come to this dream in that story about the Empress’s New Clothes, because we don’t really know what she thinks about Brexit except that she wants a hard variety. She parades about the land in carefully stage-managed encounters with ‘ordinary’ folk wearing her Brexit suit – but she doesn’t seem to be wearing anything at all. In this she seems as naked as Jeremy.
In an increasingly personal campaign, Mrs Maybe’s robotic ramblings can be summed up as: “Vote for me or you’ll get him.” Not much more to it than that.
On the other side of the political divide, Jeremy Corbyn gave The One Show a jar of jam. And can’t you just hear Mrs Maybe heckling in the background: “He gives you jam but I will give you Jerusalem.”
I didn’t see the whole thing because watching The One Show is like drowning in jam. I did see the highlights and Corbyn came across quite well, for what it’s worth, which is not a lot.
Earlier in the day, the Labour leader got in a tangle on BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour when he floundered over the cost of his party’s proposal for universal free child care. An “excruciating exchange” says the Mail today – a “car crash” says the Sun. Well, yes – but these traps laid for politicians are becoming tedious. The presenters get so excited about their ‘scoop’ that all sense of proportion is lost. Yes, Corbyn should have known that, but recovered well enough.
The bigger car crash would be for Theresa May to lose this election (still unlikely) or to end up with a hung parliament (still possible). For a while now, I’ve been wondering if there wouldn’t be a sort of justice in the Tories ending up with exactly the same number of seats they had before – and thus making a nonsense of this snap election.
In the Times this morning, a shock YouGov poll suggests that the Tories could lose 20 seats and Labour gain nearly 30. That’s hardly the Brexit-proof mandate Theresa May bet the house on, is it?
Political narratives like a twist, and the longer this campaign grinds on, the more likely it seems that the accepted script – Theresa May wins a whopping majority – might have to be rewritten.
Corbyn is certainly the more human proposition, and the more he is seen, the less ‘scary’ he seems. But that might not be enough, and maybe people don’t want human leaders. Maybe they prefer robotic drones with nothing much to say.
Whatever, we’ll find out in eight days.