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Election Daily

Donors giveth and donors taketh away

plus how to deal with a super-majority

8:25 AM GMT+1 on June 19, 2024

    What can half a million pounds buy you? Well, it could get you about 50,000 Space Hoppers, 60,000 supermarket BLTs (with added E. coli risk!) or a couple of Lamborghinis. Or it could inject you and your voting intentions into the national conversation, as it did for billionaire John Causwell, who sank £500,000 into the Conservatives before the last general election, but yesterday made headlines by trumpeting his intention to vote Labour next month for the first time in his life.

    The news is a "further boost" for Keir Starmer, said Sky News. Not that the Labour leader has needed any boosts lately. Former Tories and their supporters have been lining up for weeks to pay homage to the widely tipped next PM. The wealthy and powerful always know which side their bread is buttered.

    Several of the UK's big news pods have been reflecting on Caudwell's big announcement. Here's what they made of that news and all the other biggest electoral bits from yesterday.

    BBC Newscast: The BBC went big with the Caudwell backflip, not least because it was the Beeb's very own Chris Mason who got the scoop. In the exclusive interview, the Phones4U founder told Mason that Labour has undergone a "transformation" and that Rishi Sunak is an "absolute dud". Poor Sunak. He just wants to be your friend, Great Britain & Northern Ireland. 

    The Slow Newscast: Not everyone is jumping ship though. Frank Hester has given the largest donations to the Conservative Party in history. And even with the party's popularity in the doldrums he has continued to give them cash. The Tortoise team looks into how the Conservatives have suddenly come to be really quite reliant on the money of one man. Unfortunately, they don't look into how many Space Hoppers Hester could have bought with his money over the years – their analysis is no poorer for it. 

    Talking Politics: Caution has been Labour's main approach to this election, and arguably the whole of Starmer's tenure to date. Will Labour be able to let the handbrake off if they get elected? Or is deep and abiding centrism Starmer's actual politics? Anushka Asthana is on the road with Labour to try to work out the answer to those questions. She scored interviews with deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, asking why the party is so resistant to lifting the two-child benefit cap, among other questions. Also, and this is important, ITV's political correspondent Carl Dinnen reports from Belfast on how things are looking up there ahead of the first Westminster election since power-sharing in Northern Ireland was restored.

    When It Hits the Fan: PR gurus David Yelland and Simon Lewis have a good close look at Starmer's election campaign. How is he dealing with some of his "stickier PR moments" such as his previous endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn? Also, is it bad that when he mentions his dad's job as a toolmaker people are now laughing at him, they ask. Plus, when you are this far ahead in the polls, how do you manage people's expectations? Always a great listen, this.

    Today in Focus: The Guardian team are also looking at Labour's stonking lead. A new poll for Ipsos has shown Labour are heading for an unprecedented majority. What will that do for them, Archie Bland asks.

    Coffee House Shots: So much can happen in 24 hours. Yesterday, everyone was asking whether Boris Johnson was back after he released a few videos to endorse selected candidates from his holiday in Sardinia. Today people are wondering whether the former PM intends to make any further contributions to the campaign at all. The Spectator team's offering today exists in the netherspace between those two views on Team Boris's planned contribution to the current campaign. But the mysterious ways of Johnson are always worth reflecting on, so this is still a very worthwhile bit of audio.

    The Daily T: Also asking whether Boris Johnson can ride to the rescue of the Tories somehow is the Daily T team. Can the divisive former boost the Tories' flailing campaign? Does he even want to? Plus, does Nigel Farage have what it takes to be PM, they ask? Election Daily wonders if this is softening up the Telegraph's audience up for potential full-blown Reform love in years to come.

    Sky News Daily: Early on, this election was being tipped to be culture wars-heavy, with  battle lines being drawn around migration in particular. So far, it has felt lighter than expected but the issue is still bubbling away, Sky News notes, with all the major parties mentioning migration in their manifestos. Which is why, they say in the show today, we really need to have a big proper adult conversation on the issue. To this end, host Niall Paterson is joined by Sky News’ community correspondent, Becky Johnson, who went to Swindon to talk to voters about their views. Plus, they have on Sky's economics and data editor Ed Conway who digs into the statistics to reveal exactly how big an impact migration, both legal and illegal, has on the UK. A really useful contribution to the debate. Well done Sky.

    The News Agents: The Sun newspaper’s backing used to be significant in each British election. Famously, the paper backed Tony Blair in 1997, then switched to David Cameron over Gordon Brown in 2010. But this time around the paper has been pretty quiet about its allegiance. Is that because Murdoch hasn't made his mind up yet, they ask. Or is it just because the power papers used to wield is diminishing? Former Sun editor David Yelland comes in to say the kinds of things he has been saying on his own pod When it Hits The Fan for a while. Lots to grapple with here.

    Politics Without The Boring Bits: Matt Chorley looks into whether there are just too many polls these days. Do they dominate political coverage too much? Chorley chats with various experts from the polling industry and journalism, and compares the UK with other countries where reporting polls is against the law. I'm sure the Conservatives would be happy if we all talked a bit less about the polls just at the moment.

    How To Win An Election: Political masterminds Peter Mandelson, Polly Mackenzie and Daniel Finkelstein join Matt Chorley (again) to discuss how a small Tory rump in parliament should oppose a new Labour supermajority. Plus which way should the Conservative Party turn next?

    The New Statesman Podcast: And on the flip side of that question you have the New Statesman, who are looking into whether, once Labour's supermajority begins, people will remain loyal in their support for them? A good adjunct to the pod above.

    FT Politics: The FT has spotted a bit of a yawning chasm in Labour's plans: The party is promising not to raise a raft of taxes, not to borrow to fund day-to-day spending and not to return to austerity with major cuts to public services. So how will they achieve this? FT’s Whitehall editor Lucy Fisher asks the paper's economics editor Sam Fleming, who interviewed shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves this week, whether economic growth can actually square the circle.

    And now for something only a tiny bit different
    Guardian Football Weekly: When my bosses Matt Deegan and Matt Hill commissioned me to write this newsletter, they envisaged me using this slot as a palate cleanser; a place of respite from the rest of the email where diligent readers, such as yourself, who had made it all the way to the end of this thing would be rewarded with something pleasingly off-topic. A serendipitous little shot of audio sorbet to amuse and delight. Unfortunately I keep finding things that are notionally not about the election, but have at least a faint political aroma about them, if not a full-on electoral blue-cheese stench. Well, here is another one, because even though you would think that a football show would currently be a politics-free zone, The Guardian's Football Weekly had Keir Starmer on the show yesterday to talk about everything from the disadvantages of late kick-offs to his plans to enforce stricter rules on who can own a football club. Starmer is an Arsenal season ticket holder, and obviously cares about footy. Which is more than can be said for some party leaders, such as David Cameron who was rightly ridiculed when, having spent years professing his undying love for Aston Villa, once told a rally that he supported West Ham. Anyway, Football Weekly is always great and with the Euros in full flight, this is usually a place you can escape from the election… just not in this particular episode. Sorry Matts.

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