This post, and particularly the last paragraph, was not predicated on the YouGove poll predicting a hung parliament – I continue to have no faith in the integrity of that company. I started writing this yesterday based on my own feeling that we could be heading into hung parliament territory. I was however motivated to return to and update this draft by the YouGove poll.
I yesterday watched Michael Gove shouting (literally) about Jeremy Corbyn supporting the IRA and Hamas on The Daily Politics, looking like an agitated tomato in spectacles. Because the mainstream media and political class live in the same utterly unrepresentative bubble, they do not realise that the large majority of ordinary people do not share their detestation of the Palestinians.
Subsequently we had Theresa May spouting utter rubbish about Corbyn going “alone and naked into the negotiating chamber”. 99% of the actual negotiating is done by teams of civil servants. Neither May nor Corbyn would be alone, they would have the same civil servants. Plus Corbyn would of course have Keir Starmer QC.
May’s jibe was supposed to echo Aneurin Bevan but it failed entirely, as the possession or otherwise of a nuclear weapon is irrelevant to the EU negotiations. The entirely spurious “alone” was not in Bevan’s quote and I can find no rational explanation of what it was supposed to mean. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the whole irrelevant jibe was designed just to set up the titter at the image of Jeremy Corbyn naked. This really has been the most appalling Tory campaign imaginable, aimed at nobody but the nastiest kind of UKIP voter.
For the BBC to lead all its news bulletins on Corbyn’s inability instantly to recall the figure on childcare costs was puerile bias. Anyone can forget a figure. Politics is not a memory test. The attempt to reduce it to such is of course made heinous by differential application. When Tories have the same, perfectly natural problem of instant recall – as when the Chancellor was £20 billion out on the cost of HS2 – it gets nothing like the media coverage given to Corbyn and Abbott.
On which point, my last posting was about the SNP’s excellent manifesto. It was perfectly possible to sit here in Edinburgh yesterday, paying a great deal of attention to the BBC, and have no idea whatsoever of the SNP manifesto’s actual contents. Equally mystifying was the Daily Politics’ attack line against the SNP. How dare they have policies for the UK when they cannot form a government at Westminster? Angus Robertson replied politely that these were the policies their MPs would advocate at Westminster, and potentially support the implementation of, depending on the electoral arithmetic. The BBC reporter flared at this and seemed outraged that the SNP have the temerity to stand for election at all. It was truly bizarre television.
We are seeing more truly bizarre television every day as the mainstream media are puzzled and disconcerted that the plebs are simply refusing to ignore their obviously correct preference for the Tory party, instead having this mad desire to think for themselves. The media remind me of the puzzled look on Ceaucescu’s face as the crowd started chanting against him. The utterly talentless Tory hack Anne McElvoy was on BBC Breakfast today oozing contempt for Corbyn and explaining why his forgetting a number on Radio 4 proved he could not govern. She appeared completely divorced from reality.
And finally, it is remarkable that the Mays’ appearance on the One programme last week was featured again and again on BBC Breakfast and even on Sky News the next morning, with BBC vox pops “showing how impressed the public were with her” and Tory commentators speaking about how lovely and ordinary she was. Last night Jeremy Corbyn was on the One Show, and by the starkest of contrasts I have found no coverage of it at all this morning.
As the polls continue to shift, there is one distinct possibility for the result of this General Election looming. The Tories might be the largest party but with no overall majority. In which case they would form either a formal or a de facto alliance with their friends in the Northern Irish unionist parties. This would either force the unionists to take ownership of hard Brexit and the consequent imposition of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, or force Theresa May to abandon hard Brexit and outrage her supporters. I suspect the former is more likely, and the consequences of unionist enabled hard Brexit for Northern Ireland would be immense.