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Election Daily

Farage puts out contract on Sunak

plus should Jeremy Corbyn go Green?

8:32 AM GMT+1 on June 18, 2024

    You know things aren't going terribly well when your own ministers begin urging you to change your campaigning approach to one of "damage limitation". That is precisely what Conservatives are telling Rishi Sunak, according to The Times, as they now believe they can't win the election. Retaining between 140 and 180 seats would be a "good result", a minister told the paper. Yeesh. 

    To be fair to Sunak, of course, he wasn't exactly dealt the most spectacular hand when he took over as PM on 25 October 2022. The British economy was tanking thanks to his immediate predecessor Liz Truss, and the Conservatives' reputation was in the doldrums in large part due to Boris Johnson’s various misadventures, including allegations of flouting Covid lockdown rules.

    Still, that most likely won't stop accusatory fingers being pointed in his direction if things go very badly come 4 July.

    Making sense of how the rest of Sunak's campaign is likely to go, as ever, are the finest minds of in the news podcasting space. Here's how they see the election campaign with *checks calendar* just 16 days until the vote. Most have been picking over Reform UK's launch yesterday of a manifesto that wasn't a manifesto. I'll let them explain that to you.

    Oh, and hello to Spotify who’ve opened up an election hub on their app, so you can get to many of these shows with ease.

    The Election Shortcut with Kate McCann: Last week, Kate McCann was skittering around the country attending every manifesto launch going. Yesterday, she failed to make it to Wales to attend Reform UK's "contract with the British people" (it isn't a manifesto, Nigel Farage insisted), so instead spoke to Geraldine Scott, senior political correspondent at The Times to take us through what the upstart party is promising. It is a contract rather than a manifesto, Scott explains, because Farage thinks that if you call it a manifesto people "instantly think the promises aren't going to be kept". Fair point there Nige.

    Politics Without the Boring Bits: Matt Chorley has been conducting exit interviews with various MPs leaving parliament this year, to find out the lessons they've learned from politics. Some episodes have been better than others, but this one is a cracker with former leadership contender Andrea Leadsom reflecting on her time in Westminster, her difficult relationship with former Commons speaker John Bercow, and why she would work for a potential Labour government. Leadsom has long been a divisive character, but always knew how to give a good soundbite, and she delivers in spades here.

    The Rest is Politics: One thing parties who are in the ascendant always have to fight against is voter apathy. People simply don't turn up to the polls in such great numbers when the result looks like it is a foregone conclusion. They also don't turn up when it is raining, lazy buggers. Anyway, Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell are on hand to delve into the question of how worried Labour should be about people potentially not showing up to vote. 

    The Two Matts: Matthew d’Ancona and Matt Kelly of The New European also want to talk about the Reform UK manifesto launch. Kelly says: "It is a document of complete nonsense", and was "completely unfunded". They also ask what life would be like if the Tories get as badly wiped out as polls suggest. 

    Talking Politics: Despite everything with Reform and their promises, lots of people still think Farage could be PM in five years time. How exactly? Well, allow ITV's Robert Peston, Anushka Asthana and Tom Bradby to explain precisely that. 

    Sky News Daily: One of the big features of Reform UK's manifesto was the promise for massive spending, which dwarfs what Labour and the Conservatives have committed to. The party says it will pay for the plans by measures including scrapping net zero targets and what remains of HS2. Niall Paterson talks to Sky's chief political correspondent Jon Craig about whether the numbers add up. 

    The New Statesman Podcast: Also looking at Reform's spending promises were the New Statesman team who say Farage's pledges require a certain amount of "mathematical gymnastics".

    The News Agents: Another gymnastic aspect of the Reform pitch, say the News Agents team, is that the man who brought you Brexit launched his party's manifesto and complained about Brexit. Farage recognises that small business has been more squeezed, immigration has rocketed and food costs have soared since Brexit, but he says the answer is to let him have your vote again so they can "do Brexit properly". The "irony is complete", Emily Maitlis says.

    BBC Newscast: Despite what he is being told by his own ministers, Sunak continues to stress that the Conservatives "can win". Can they? Adam Fleming is joined by Alex Forsyth and Simon Jack to discuss the question. They also look at the Reform UK manifesto and Keir Starmer's latest comments on Brexit.

    The Daily T: Labour's shadow health secretary Wes Streeting comes on the show to talk about everything from private healthcare to the future of the NHS and "class top trumps". Hosts Camilla Tominey and Kamal Ahmed also ask whether, with Reform's popularity surging, the Tories should borrow a policy or two from Nigel Farage. I mean it wouldn't be the first time.

    The Today Podcast: Amol Rajan and Nick Robinson discuss whether Keir Starmer is running out of things to say, whether Jeremy Corbyn should actually have run for the Green Party and answer an important listener question: what will Boris Johnson do next? The Conservative Party is this week preparing to distribute thousands of leaflets featuring Johnson's signature to "counter the threat from Reform UK", said The Telegraph today. Is this his return to frontline politics? Probably not just yet. 

    Whitehall Sources: Giles Wilkes, a former special adviser to Theresa May, who's now at the Institute for Government, comes on to explore the lack of inspiration and vision from both Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak and the sense of distrust and cynicism among the public. Call me cynical but it is hard to remember the last time the general public wasn't distrustful of politicians really.

    Macrodose: With Starmer positioning himself right in the centre of the political spectrum,  the Macrodose team talk to James Schneider, the former strategic comms director for Jeremy Corbyn about the future of the left and organising in the UK. "Labour is promising to look like the government we have just had, but maybe a bit less bad", Schneider says. They will also open themselves to corporate lobbyists, he adds. I don't think Schneider is going to be on Starmer's Christmas card list this year.

    And now for something slightly different…

    Jimmy's Jobs Of The Future: Shoutout to Georgia Panico for bringing this one to my attention. Former Downing Street adviser Jimmy McLoughlin has long been speaking to top entrepreneurs and thought leaders about the future of the UK economy through the prism of jobs. And about 18 months ago one of the people he had on his show was a hopeful young Tory leadership contender named Rishi Sunak. Ever heard of him? Anyway, it is very interesting to revisit this one to hear Sunak talking about his plans for the future. Now, of course, he is likely to be thinking about what his own job of the future might be. In the words of Maitlis, another "irony is complete".

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