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Election Daily

Sunak prays for late winner

plus prime ministers behind closed doors

8:59 AM GMT+1 on July 1, 2024

    England snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Slovakia at the Euros last night. Can the Tories do likewise as this year's election approaches full time?

    Is Suella Braverman about to deliver the political equivalent of a Jude Bellingham overhead kick to bring the Tories level? Can Grant Shapps slot in a Harry Kane-esque winner at the death?

    No, that is not what's going to happen. It is going to be a humiliation on par with the Three Lions being thrashed 7-1 by Hungary in 1954. At least that is what the latest polling suggests.

    In the absence of last-minute heroics, there has certainly been plenty of drama over the past couple of days, as summarised by the UK's best news podcasts thusly:

    The Story: The Tories were in trouble even before Reform came along, but the upstart party certainly hasn't helped the Conservatives' predicament. The Times's Luke Jones looks back to 2019 when Boris Johnson's Conservatives upended decades of traditional voting behaviour to win a bunch of lifelong Labour seats in the north and midlands. Now Sunak's incarnation of the party is being challenged from the right. Jones heads to Ashfield to talk to people about the threat Reform represents.

    TRIGGERnometry: Who is Piers Morgan going to vote for? He says he doesn't know himself as he joins comedians Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster on their show. He also discusses Israel/Palestine, the rise of Nigel Farage, whom he describes as "treacherous" and more. Love him or hate him this is a nice reversal, putting Morgan in the unusual role of interviewee rather than interviewer.

    The News Agents: The Agents come to us from Birmingham this week, where they have been following round an independent candidate called Akhmed Yakoob who thinks he has a chance of beating Labour MP Shabana Mahmood. He's "pretty controversial", they say, "and for good reason". Then Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall swing over to Paris for some pains au chocolat and brie de meaux… oh and to report on the French election. 

    BBC Newscast: Did you miss Laura Kuenssberg's interview with Rishi Sunak yesterday? If so, don't worry because you can catch up on her reflections about the PM's newfound "fighting" attitude. Labour’s campaign chief Pat McFadden also came on her show. But why was it him and not Keir Starmer? From this point it feels like Starmer could just kick up his heels and watch the Euros every day between now and polling day and still win the election.

    Leading: What are prime ministers really like behind closed doors? Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell talk to Gus O’Donnell, the former Cabinet Secretary and Head of Civil Service to discuss this interesting question.

    Coffee House Shots: Hosts Fraser Nelson, Katy Balls and Kate Andrews did a live show as the election campaign approached the home straight. Nelson looks at some "myth-busting" statistics and the Spectator team answer questions from the audience. Always a dangerous thing to do. In this case though, plenty of salient stuff is posed including whether this election could increase support for proportional representation, what policy the panel thinks has been the most interesting and whether there was ever a path to victory for Rishi Sunak? Death or incarceration of all rival candidates might have sealed it for the Tories, I reckon. They just didn't approach this election with their fascist hats on, that was their mistake. 

    Pod Save the UK: In the world of comic books, crossovers featuring the hero from one franchise appearing in another title always reeks of slight desperation. But in the podcast universe, the coming together of The Rest is Politics' Rory Stewart and Pod Save the UK's Nish Kumar and Coco Khan is more like the formation of a rock'n'roll supergroup. Here, the political podcasting superstars discuss why the Conservative Party is still blowing itself apart from the inside, why the Tory campaign has been such a "clusterf***" and whether a Labour supermajority would be good or bad for democracy as a whole. Also, Stewart explains why he might return to politics – even going for the top job. Prime Minister Stewart does have a certain ring to it, no?

    The Two Matts: Meanwhile, Stewart's co-host, Alastair Campbell may also have a more front-line political future, but on the opposite side of the aisle, reckon Matthew d’Ancona and Matt Kelly of The New European. Will Keir Starmer involve Campbell in Number 10? If that happened, what would become of Campbell and Stewart's podcast?! The Rest is Politics might end up taking a rest.

    The Intelligence: As 14 years of Tory rule looks likely to come to an end, The Economist’s Andy Miller travels up and down the country, to the towns and cities shaped by the past decade and a half, to get a sense of how Britain is feeling. "There isn't much optimism in the air, truth be told," says Miller deflatedly in his introduction.

    PoliticsJOE: Also trying to sum up the past 14 years are the team at JOETowers, who get in Sleaford Mods' Jason Williamson to chat about the general election, class, welfare, and the possibility of socialism. A really good ranging chat.

    Today in Focus: The Guardian is also looking at the Tories' reign in review. They have put together a two-parter, the second episode of which is out today. In it the always brilliant Jonathan Freedland explores how chaos from Brexit to Partygate destroyed trust in politics. Sobering stuff.

    The Political Party: "Imagine a selection box only filled with the best chocolates. Now imagine that in audio form. You've just imagined this episode", reads the show notes. So who is this chocolate box of political delights? Emily Thornberry, Labour, Islington South and Finsbury; Damian Collins, Conservative, Folkestone and Hythe; Thomas Daw, Green, Weston-Super-Mare; Christian Wakeford, Labour, Bury South. Not exactly a box of Celebrations, but at least there are no Quality Street's Coconut Eclairs in that mix.

    Political Currency: If Rishi Sunak is about to lose what will he do next? Is he heading for California or "are the rolling hills of Yorkshire calling him to stick around," hosts Ed Balls and George Osborne ask. Plus, they give their best advice for making it through the election all-nighter. My plan is to drink a lot of caffeine. If my Friday morning output is all caps, don't be surprised.

    And now for something related but different…

    Martin Wolf on democracy’s year of peril: 2024: The FT's chief economics commentator Martin Wolf is worried about the threat autocrats pose to liberal democracies. Across the world, billions of citizens are being asked to cast their vote this year in elections taking place in more than 50 countries, but in many places, populist, illiberal and far-right parties are either growing in support or consolidating gains they have already made. We've seen that just over the weekend in France for example. In this rather troubling five-part series, Wolf interviews leading political thinkers about the future of the western, liberal democratic system. You may need a lie down after this one.

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