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Election Daily

The Tories’ safe bet

plus the power of a pic with Taylor Swift

8:25 AM GMT+1 on June 26, 2024

    In Back to the Future 2, the villainous Biff travels back in time to give his younger self an almanac of sporting results, so that he can place bets on events that he already knows the outcome of. The result is a hellish alternative universe where Tannen has gambled his way to becoming an orange-coloured blond-haired multi-billionaire magnate seemingly in charge of the whole of America.

    Given we would not like that hideous turn of events to come to pass, we should probably try to discourage anybody from gambling on things they have insider knowledge of. Like, say, the date of an election that is being called by one's own party.

    As the ugly Gamblegate scandal continues to grow, with two more Tories, five police officers and a Labour candidate all caught up in it yesterday, here is what the finest British news pods have made of the latest news and all the other electiony goings-on from yesterday too:

    The Story: This podcast seems especially aptly named today. *The* story of the day really is the growing investigations by the Gambling Commission into bets on the date of the general election. Hundreds of pre-election bets are now being trawled for connections to the Conservative party and Rishi Sunak has withdrawn support from two of those under investigation. How bad is it all going to get for the Tories, The Times team asks. "At this point the story is starting to pick up steam", they say, rather understating things. 

    The Rest is Politics: Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell are also discussing how damaging the election betting scandal is for the Tories. "Maybe this Conservative campaign could do better without its campaign director, because frankly they haven't been doing a very good job, Campbell says. Hard to argue with that.

    The New Statesman podcast: Everything's been going so badly for the prime minister, "one can't help but admire the fact that he's carrying on", says The New Statesman podcast in their show notes. Andrew Marr adds to this that "If I were Sunak, I'd be wailing under the table". I beg to differ. I believe the traditional thing to be doing with oneself at this point in one's premiership is to be lining up honours for one's friends and cronies and googling "speaking engagement fees - ex-prime minister".

    The News Agents: Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall ask why it took Sunak so incredibly long to pull his support from two Tory candidates who admitted to betting on the date of the election. "Why", they ask, "could the whole country see this coming except the PM?" They also take a detour into the "extraordinary story" of Julian Assange, looking at how he gained such legendary status and consider whether he was more "saint or sinner". 

    For the Many: Iain Dale and former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith also discuss all the latest in betting scandal. They also look at Nigel Farage's comments about the Ukraine war, asking whether he has blown it, just a week and a bit after announcing himself as the future of right-wing Britain. They also have a chat about Julian Assange leaving the UK, banning conversion therapy, the England team's performance and plenty more.

    Newscast x The Today Podcast x When It Hits The Fan: Now this is cool, and thanks for the tip-off about this one, Gemma Roper. Three BBC podcasts have come together to answer one question: how influential is the media on the election? Hosts from all three podcasts look into whether newspapers still matter to political campaigns, if the TV debates change people’s minds, and how much impact social media is really having. The episode brings together a crack team of Adam Fleming, Amol Rajan, Alex Forsyth, Marianna Spring, David Yelland and Simon Lewis and it is great.

    When It Hits The Fan: Meanwhile, back on their own show, David Yelland and Simon Lewis are discussing Taylor Swift and the power of having your photo taken backstage or anywhere inside the Eras tour. Royals, politicians, influencers and we regular plebs are all queuing up to get close to the once-in-a-lifetime musical spectacular, but does it definitely benefit everyone who goes near it Yelland and Lewis ask. Sliding away from politics, the hosts also look into how podcasts and social media have damaged the reputation of Gareth Southgate's England. Is it possible to recover from losing the commentariat? You'd have to say England might benefit from scoring a few goals, just for starters.

    FT Politics: We all know that the Tories' polling is currently woeful, but it isn't a new thing. In fact, the decline started all the way back in 2019. Host Lucy Fisher chats to the FT's chief data reporter John Burn-Murdoch, who charts the beginning of the party’s descent. Two more FT bods, Robert Shrimsley and George Parker, also swing by to discuss whether Britain's "first past the post system" is going to lead to the biggest ever mismatch between parties’ share of the vote and their share of Westminster seats. It still feels like a massive problem.

    Page 94: The Private Eye Podcast: Ian Hislop, Adam Macqueen, Matt Muir, Helen Lewis, and Andrew Hunter Murray share their thoughts on everything from the Tories' gambling problem, the British Invasion of American newsrooms and how Nigel Farage is being received by everyone, especially The Telegraph. "We've talked on this podcast before about the Telegraph skewing very very Reformy", they say, but now the paper "seems to be having a freakout" about the party. While still employing Farage as a columnist, they note. So, you know, they can't be that freaked.

    The Daily T: So with all that in mind, let's nip over to the Telegraph's own podcast to see what they are chatting about today. And yep, it is Farage. In fact, the Telegraph’s home affairs editor Charles Hymas is on the show to discuss his catamaran voyage on the Channel with Farage as he launched his party’s plan to address small boat crossings. Embedded journalism, I think this is known as.

    Talking Politics: Host Nina Hossain talks to ITV's multimedia Westminster producer Lewis Denison about how leaders of all parties are fighting for hits and likes on TikTok. Is social media having an impact, they ask? "The success of each of the parties broadly reflects the polls", says Denison. "Labour are miles ahead with 5 million likes on TikTok compared with the Tories who have 700,000 likes." Interesting analysis. 

    Novara Media: Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the RMT, comes on to discuss the importance of council housing and why, in his view, it's vital that people vote for the Labour Party. Surprise position to be taking there, Mick. I would have seen you as more of a Rees-Mogg, Braverman, Badenoch kind of guy.

    And now for something completely different…

    Today in Focus: In the days and weeks to come there will doubtless be plenty of thoughtful podcasts that rake over Julian Assange's career to date, his long incarceration, and the plea deal he has now struck to win his freedom. But if you don't want to wait for a good primer on the Wikileaks founder's journey from teenage hacker to one of the world's most divisive figures, this is a great place to start. The Guardian's Esther Addley and Julian Borger chart his rise and fall in this show that is from five years ago so some of it is out of date, but it is a neat summary of the events that led Assange to go on the run from justice, hide out in the Ecuadorian embassy and have visits from Pamela Anderson. Honestly, what a wild life he has already had.

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