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Election Daily

Election Daily: Much Ado About Abbott

All the Abbott drama, campaign strategy under the spotlight and a focus on the NHS

8:19 AM GMT+1 on May 30, 2024

    Last year, economist Will Hutton released a book titled "This Time No Mistakes", detailing what Labour should do if it gets into government. But the challenge of the title could equally be applied to the election campaign, which has already seen plenty of blunders, as this newsletter has, er, noted for the record. 

    Rishi Sunak has, it would be fair to say, done the lion's share of the blundering so far, but yesterday it was Labour's turn. A day that had been earmarked for attacking the Tories' record on the NHS, instead descended into chaos over Diane Abbott's future. 

    Mistakes, as the internet likes to say, were made. But not by this great country's podcasters who produced yet another flawless day of political output, which went a little something like this:

    The Owen Jones Podcast: "Labour in crisis!" says Owen Jones. It had to happen sooner or later, eh? Well, sooner it is. Join Owen for 16 minutes of white hot condemnation and recrimination over the Diane Abbott palaver, including this titbit: “Before this latest saga Keir Starmer had the worst net satisfaction amongst ethnic minority Britons of any leader of the opposition, Labour leader of the opposition, since records began in 1996 on minus 21. That is about 50 points lower than during the last Labour leadership election.”

    ITV’s Talking Politics: More on Abbott, this time from veteran political broadcasters Robert Peston and Anushka Asthana who join host Gamal Fahnbulleh to discuss whether the controversy over the Hackney and Stoke Newington MP could derail Labour's election campaign altogether. Plus the team has a little gloat about ITV being home to the first televised leadership debate. Could it be an opportunity for Rishi Sunak to revive his fortunes, they wonder? I'm going out on a limb here: at most, I reckon 15% of the country is going to tune in to find out.

    BBC Newscast: Guess what these folks are talking about? That's right, Diane Abbott. Hosts Adam Fleming and Alex Forsyth are joined by Newsnight's Nick Watt to try work out what is going on. Meanwhile Chris Mason has been travelling with Rishi Sunak in the South West of England. The PM just sounds mightily relieved that the spotlight is off him for a spell. And disinformation specialist Marianna Spring is in the studio to discuss how the political parties are using social media to target voters in what is being called the first TikTok election. But we all know it’s about the podcasts. 

    Politics Weekly: More Abbott over at Guardian Towers too. Plus Pippa Crerar and Kiran Stacey discuss the ins and outs of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat campaigns so far. Dream start for both, obvs.

    The New Statesman Podcast: Abbott.

    The Daily T: Abbott.

    Coffee House Shots: Abbott.

    Page 94: The Private Eye Podcast: Hang on. Andrew Hunter Murray (he of No Such This As A Fish) discusses with the team the laws that are being rammed through parliament before the electoral iron curtain descended. Always interesting to see what is on the legislative agenda of those who are (probably) about to lose power. Plus they look at the laws that are being left on the other side and ask why they have been delayed, which is to say shelved.

    Pod Save the UK: Sky News’ Liz Bates reviews the week with hosts Nish Kumar and Coco Khan, plus they speak to Lib Dem Christine Jardine about the party’s differences with Labour. 

    The News Agents: Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall discuss why exactly Nigel Farage is getting so much airtime (a perennial question the media has to answer) and why he is being treated like he's a party leader. They also talk to their official polling partner for the general election, More in Common, about whether the Tory proposed policy of National Service is in fact more popular than you first might think. Oh and Abbot, they also talk about Abbott.

    Electoral Dysfunction: What are the strategies behind the Sunak and Starmer campaigns – with the former going for headline-grabbing pledges and the latter spending the first week focussing on the personal rather than policy. Jess Phillips also outlines her plans for the campaign and talks about the dog she encountered while she was out door-knocking named after Ted Heath. Plus Abbott.

    PoliticsJOE: Oli Dugmore and Ava Santina discuss NHS privatisation, after Wes Streeting touted the benefits of using the private sector in the NHS. And Abbott.

    Macrodose: James Meadway asks what a "seemingly inevitable" win for Labour will mean over the next 5 years. Really good and interesting stuff. As a letter writer to The Guardian wrote a short while ago, "socialists whose memories go back further than New Labour might recall Raymond Williams in 1974. Believing both that the Tories must be defeated and that Labour’s socialist credentials were hopelessly compromised, he settled for the slogan 'Elect them on Thursday; fight them on Friday.'" Interesting to consider how that idea might apply to Labour voters now.

    Planet Normal: This live show to celebrate Planet Normal's 200th episode (heartfelt congrats from all of us here at Podcast Rex) was recorded in front of an audience at Cadogan Hall in London. In it, the team chats with special guests Lord David Frost, who reveals how he tried to save the Conservative Party from themselves, as well as writer Lionel Shriver, who reveals why her latest novel "Mania" could prove to be quite close to home this election season.

    Holyrood Sources: Hosts Calum Macdonald, Geoff Aberdein (who was Chief of Staff to the First Minister from 2007-2014) and Andy Maciver (former head of comms for the Scottish Conservatives) today talk to Allan Faulds from Ballot Box Scotland, a project that aims to provide regular updates on the country's polling and elections. They also speak to former Labour Scottish Parliamentary candidate Cat Headley to take a trip down memory lane to revisit some of their favourite and not-so-favourite memories of being on the campaign trail. She also Abbotts on a bit.

    The Story: I missed this one yesterday, but it is an interesting one, so I've snuck it in. Labour has said that if it wins, it will take away the tax breaks Britain’s private schools have benefited from for years. As the team notes, the introduction of VAT could push fees up by twenty percent, forcing middle class parents out and putting pressure on the sector. So why does Labour want to do this, and what could it mean for the future of education? Fascinating stuff for us all to consider.

    And now for something completely different

    The Trawl: Marina Purkiss, and Jemma Forte meet the person who they say turned their mild interest in politics into a passion: James O'Brien. The LBC star discusses how he owes much of his fame, weirdly, to Brexit and listens back to some all-time-great caller clips. There is also a really good chat about Proportional Representation, with Marina and James ultimately agreeing to disagree. O'Brien also reluctantly names who, of those responsible for Britain's demise, he'd choose to go for dinner with, which in itself is hilarious. And he offers thoughts on the lounging Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg and Reform Party's Richard Tice. Ok, so maybe this choice wasn't so different to election biz, but it is a great listen.

    Thanks for reading,

    Arion

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