- The Conservatives have won local and county council elections. Labour has been severely weakened, whilst the Lib Dems have regressed too, failing to capitalise on its supposed strong support from Remain voters. UKIP’s local support has all but collapsed, putting them on course to fall back to being the fourth party in percentage terms, behind the Lib Dems.
- Parliament was officially dissolved this week. Following the dissolution of Parliament the Prime Minister made a remarkable speech on the steps of Downing Street, in which she attacked the EU for briefings in the press criticising her attitude towards the Article 50 negotiations. Although Labour accused her of striking an inappropriate tone that would make it more difficult to get a good deal, if the local election results are anything to go by, she has reinforced perceptions that she is strong minded leader who is best placed to represent the country in the negotiations.
- Dianne Abbott had an embarrassing week. After confusing the cost of an additional 10,000 police officers, with guesses ranging from £300,000 to “about £80 million”, rival parties attacked her disastrous interview as further evidence that the Labour leadership is weak and incompetent. Abbott brushed off the criticism, explaining that she had simply “misspoken”.
- Theresa May was interviewed by Andrew Marr and Robert Peston last Sunday. She set out a broad commitment not to raise taxes, but refused to be pinned down on any specific guarantees. She also suggested that the way pension increases are calculated might be changed in the future.
- The Tories released a poster this week attacking Labour’s defence credentials. The attack lost some of its punch after Brexit Secretary David Davis was pictured in front of part of the caption, which appeared to read “hell for your family”.
- ITV are planning an election debate without Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday 18th Mindful of David Cameron’s 2010 experience, the Prime Minister has refused to appear on televised debates with the other party leaders. Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will not appear in any debate unless Mrs May is also present.
- A voter shouted at Tim Farron in Oxfordshire. The Liberal Democrat leader was accused of sneering at Brexit supporters. Farron took it in his stride and said, “that wouldn’t have happened to Theresa May because she doesn’t talk to anybody normal”.
All bar one of the five polls released in the last week show the Conservatives on 47%, ahead of Labour who currently score between 27% and 30%. Encouragingly for Labour, their popularity has increased since the election was called by slightly more than the Tories. However, they have a considerable way to go before 8th June if this election is to be anything like competitive. The most recent Election Calculus poll suggests a Tory majority of 158 seats.
- The Conservatives will launch their manifesto on Monday. You can read our speculative document here
- The first of ITV’s Tonight programmes, covering the “lives, interests, policies and their vision for the future” of the various party leaders, will premier with Tim Farron on Monday.
- Nigel Farage will be appearing on Peston on Sunday.
The long and short of it
Local election results today have been discouraging for everyone apart from the Tories. Whilst these elections are separate from the General Election, Laura Kuenssberg observed that “if a party is on track to take power, they ought to be stacking up seats in local elections”. Furthermore the Prime Minister’s strong and combative words this week compared unfavourably with Diane Abbotts dismal media performance, and this all reinforces the Tories’ narrative that Theresa May will bring strong leadership, in contrast to Labour’s chaos.