Tuesday, 18th June, 2024

[Day 1555]

Today being a Tuesday, Meg and I look forward to meeting with our Waitrose friends. The care workers were scheduled some three quarters of an hour later than usual so Meg and I needed to have a fairly rushed breakfast before we set forth down the hill. Fortunately, the weather was reasonably kind to us but I had clothed Meg in quite a substantial fleece as well as a waterproof in case the weather suddenly turned nasty upon us. When we got to the supermarket, only one of our friends was in evidence but we had a happy and extended chat before it was time to leave. I bought from the store some absolutely excellent low alcohol lager brewed I am not sure where but the brewers have managed to present a beer of tremendous flavour but only 0.4% alcohol so I tend to buy it whenever I see it in stock. Some of this beer will for my own indulgence when there is an interesting football match to peruse but a couple of bottles I will put at the disposition of the gardeners as and when they turn up to blitz the garden. After we had returned from our morning walk, the late morning carers came to perform their duties and then the Tuesday sit carer (ostensibly for me to go off and do Pilates) came along for her session. We chatted for awhile and then I cooked our lunch of fishcakes and the carer, very kindly, gave Meg her lunch whilst I was busy eating my own. This is the same carer who is often here with us on a Tuesday and she is very kindly and understanding if Meg is having a more depressed or agitated experience when she is here.

So here we are two weeks and two days to go before voting day in the General election and the Tories are still languishing in the polls. Evidently, the Tories now realise that something dramatic needs to take place (or be engineered) to save them from oblivion. One strategy is self evident and that is to ‘play the ball and not the man’ i.e. intensify personal attacks upon the character of Keir Starmer to try to convince the electorate that electing this political leader as a Prime Minister would be disastrous for the country. Although this might satisfy the emotional instincts of many Tories, as a strategy it is fraught with dangers. One of these is that attacks of a personal nature do not tend to go down well with the electorate. Another danger is that a tit-for-tat attack upon their own leader might prove counter-productive for the Tories as Rishi Sunak has hardly had a brilliant campaign so far. One is always tempted to repeat the old political adage, previously discussed in this blog and slightly adapted to attacks upon leaders, to echo the line that ‘If they stop telling lies about ‘X’, then I shall stop telling the truth about ‘Y’ But the other major plan that is being worked upon is to persuade Boris Johnson to enter the campaign with a vengeance. It is said that Boris Johnson is being drafted in to woo wavering voters amid a growing threat from Nigel Farage’s Reform UK. The former Prime Minister has signed tens of thousands of letters to people who supported the Conservatives when he led it. Tory strategists are concerned that many of the voters who backed the party for the first time in 2019 will abandon the party for either Reform UK or Labour. Meanwhile, Nigel Farage has claimed his party is ahead of the Conservatives in much of northern England and the Midlands. But the Conservatives have also held discussions about Mr Johnson appearing on the campaign trail to boost the party’s fortunes. Although this story is being given a degree of prominence in at least one of the right-leaning dailies, I do not think myself that Johnson will allow himself to be drafted in. Whatever one thinks of Johnson, it is probably the case that he has quite a shrewd and calculating political brain and realises that embracing a cause which to many appears to be lost is no way to advance one’s own political ambitions. So my reading of the situation is that Johnson will carry on flirting with some of the Tory analysts but not actually agree to a very active campaigning role. After all, he may recognise that memories are long and whilst he may be adored by some, it is probably the case that he is reviled by a much larger number with memories of ‘Partygate’ (alcohol fuelled parties in Downing Street at the height of the pandemic) very much to the fore. At this rate, it’s not impossible that the Conservatives will collapse behind both the Liberal Democrats in seat numbers and Reform UK in the popular vote.nBut the stage may be being set for something neither funny nor implausible: the return of the most self-centred, dishonest and scurrilous politician our country has ever seen (Boris Johnson), according to one commentator.

Today is the last day upon which voters can ensure that they are registered to vote in just over two weeks time. It is acknowledged that the requirements for voter ID (mainly in the form of a photograph) may effectively disenfranchise a very large number of people. As many as eight million people face being disenfranchised at the next election due to an electoral registration system which is neither effective nor efficient, says the cross-party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee in a recently published report. The Tories knew what they were doing when the new rules were brought in as the unregistered tend to be the young, poor, ethnic minority status and so on giving a relative advantage to the old and settled who predominantly vote Tory. Keir Starmer is reported today as possibly instigating a review of the Voter ID rules were he to be elected Prime Minister and in a very tight election, the impact of these missing voters might be critical. In the local elections held recently, we know that at least 13,000 were effectively turned away and in a General Election this figure will be very much higher. The Tories have certainly learnt from the Republicans on the other side of the Atlantic who have practising and refining subtle (and not so subtle) forms of voter disenfranchisement (typically of poor and black voters) for years now. I expect that this issue will assume a lot more prominence as the campaign enters its last two weeks and there is a realisation that it is too late to secure one’s vote in the fortnight that remains to us.