Wednesday, 12th June, 2024

[Day 1549]

Wednesday is the day when our domestic calls around and we are always very pleased to see her. Today, we were particularly pleased because she came along this morning bearing a wonderful gift for Meg. In her ‘normal’ job, our domestic help works in a residential home and one of the residents had acquired a beautiful rabbit, complete with a little dress and bows in her hair and the resident particularly wanted the rabbit to go to a good home. So this was the gift for Meg and as the resident herself was so called, it was quite easy to name the rabbit ‘Angela Rabbit’ Our domestic help took a photo of Meg with her new found friend and this will no doubt gladden the heart of the donor who was concerned that the rabbit should find a ‘good’ home. This morning proved productive in many ways as our domestic help was able to have a chat with Meg whilst she cleaned our Music Lounge and its environs so I took the opportunity to visit the Bromsgrove High Street. I had various successful visits, the most important being to an ATM so that we obtain cash for our shopping and the big gardening clearance job that we are going to have done for us next week. I also took the opportunity to buy some cosmetic items and some cleaning products that our domestic help particularly likes and then made my way home to think about preparing lunch. Lunch today was a fairly standard affair with some of the remains of the ham joint from the weekend, some spring greens and a baked potato. One way or another I had had a fairly busy morning but Meg had not had a ration of fresh air so we thought that this afternoon we should pay a visit to the park. In the afternoons, the park often seems to be populated by schoolgirls in pairs (what happens to schoolboys I cannot say) with the occasional dog walker, jogger and mother of young offspring. On our trips to the park, I try to avoid patches of rough tarmac and even wheel Meg on a side road (a service road running alongside the main Kidderminster Road) where the journey is so much smoother. We got back only about fifteen minutes before the afternoon carers call around to check on Meg and to wheel her to her ‘evening’ location which is our main lounge where we typically relax to ClassicFM before the 6.00pm news.

We are very often tuned to Sky News and they are hosting an important head-to-head debate between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer this evening scheduled for 7.00pm this evening. We are about half way through the campaign as things stand with three more weeks before election day itself and the Labour lead is a fairly constant 21 points as it has been for about months now. The lead seems fairly stable and constant because very often at this point in a campaign there tends to be a narrowing of the gap between the two major parties. The Tories are desperately hoping that today’s debate may turn out to be a decisive turning point because of Sunak performs brilliantly and Starmer performs disastrously, then it is not inconceivable although highly unlikely that the poll gap may start to narrow. Tonight’s debate is going to broadcast from the newly created electoral district of Greater Grimsby and Cleethorpes. The format of the clash tonight seems quite interesting as it will be Beth Rigby as the Sky news interviewer and commentator asking each candidate 20 minutes of detailed questions followed by about 25 minutes of questions from the audience. The electorate itself is a ‘red wall’ seat before the boundary change although it looks as though following the boundary change, the Labour party could take the seat with a swing of about 17%. From some of the ‘vox pop’ that have taken place during the day, it seems as though many portions of the electorate have still to be make up their minds. In fact, the local mood could almost be classified as indifference combined with a distinct lack of enthusiasm for either candidate. One can quote see why. Brexit has failed to deliver the promised benefits although I think that Grimsby itself may be the recipient of some strategically given government largesse in the last year or so. On the other hand, the Labour party hardly looked after the constituency the last time it had been in office so one can almost understand the indifference, complacency and lack pf enthusiastic support for either candidate. So far, I discern that the Tories are worried that despite cutting National Insurance twice (which they are describing as a ‘tax cut’) the polls have not moved in their favour. A further cut in National Insurance is a prominent part of the Tory election manifesto but so far, to use the contemporary political jargon, it has failed to ‘move the dial’. There are also signs that the Tory strategy might itself be shifting slightly, not overtly indicating that the election is already won and lost (which it probably is) but trying now to convince the electorate that a Labour landslide would be a disaster.

The latest economic news will not have been good news to the Tory party, three weeks before an election. The latest figures indicates that the economy was basically ‘flatlining’ with falls in construction and consumer sales, offset to some extent by an increase in services. Apparently and understandably, as April was one of the wettest in recent years, then this simultaneously depressed both the footfall to local retail outlets as well as halting some construction work. One can never attribute too much significance to one set of figures but it does add to the general feeling that the economy is not delivering benefits for many people and, of course, the absence of any real growth also affects future tax receipts. I suspect that the next week or so might be quite crucial because as soon as postal votes are delivered, then the national mood starts to get ‘baked in’ to the final result and last minute swings of the polls might not achieve as much significance as the pollsters would have us believe.