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Election Daily

When the fun stops, stop

plus looking at a potential Labour government

7:55 AM GMT+1 on June 21, 2024

    I know how all this looks. It looks as though every day I wake up determined to sink the boot into Rishi Sunak. If anything, I feel increasingly awful about it. I now kinda want the guy to chalk up some Ws amid all the Ls. Or at least a creditable D or two.

    Unfortunately for both me and him, circumstances keep conspiring against us. And once again here we are, with Sunak backed up against the wall at last night's BBC One Question Time event, forced to talk about the Conservative Party figures who have been found to have placed bets on the date of the election ahead of his official announcement.

    Sunak said, in no uncertain terms, that anyone found guilty of doing so should be "booted out" of the party and should "face the full force of the law". So that is that then.

    Still though, rumours are circulating about the potential involvement of more senior Tories following a party statement that other people are under investigation. 

    Honestly, it feels like the guy deserves to be cut a little slack. So have the news podcasts of the UK given him a wee break? Have they heck. Here is what they had to say about the sorry PM and everything else that unfolded over the past day:

    Talking Politics: ITV's Tom Bradby, Robert Peston and Anushka Asthana ask whether the betting scandal is going to completely overshadow the Conservative campaign. And importantly, will the party suspend those under investigation by the gambling watchdog? Also on the show Martin Lewis explains why he's so frustrated by the current campaign and sets out what advice he would give the next chancellor.

    The News Agents: The Conservative campaign director announcing his own leave of absence two weeks out from polling day was a move that the News Agents team says "no-one saw coming". They are talking, of course about Tony Lee and his wife, Laura Saunders, a Tory election candidate, who are both being investi­gated by the Gambling Commission. What, they ask, is happening at the heart of his campaign and what is this doing to the state of the race?

    The Two Matts: Not shy about a bit of Tory kicking are Matthew d’Ancona and Matt Kelly of The New European who are joined by comedian Rosie Holt whose alter ego MP regularly satirises this Tory government. Rosie talks about her new book and looks ahead to what things are going to be like as a political satirist after the Conservatives leave. "We're going to have to work a bit harder after this lot have gone", she says. 

    Politico's Westminster Insider: A picture tells a thousand words, they say. And it also tends to capture a heck of a lot of gaffes. In this excellent episode, host Sascha O'Sullivan chats to PA photographer Stefan Rousseau, who talks about the blunders of this campaign and the photos we'll remember long after votes have been cast. Former Labour aide Ayesha Hazarika also turns up to relive the disaster of Ed Miliband's bacon sandwich moment, which splashed across front pages in the 2015 election campaign, and the photographer who took that iconic picture, Jeremy Selwyn, tells O'Sullivan how it looked from the other side of the lens. Freelance photographer Hollie Adams also reveals whether the Boris rumours really are true: did the former PM mess up his hair before facing the cameras?

    The Story: Regular readers of the Election Daily will recall that we touched on the 1993 Canadian election in a previous edition. That was the one when the Canadian Conservative party went into the election in power but then lost all but two of its seats. Well, that election is being picked over by The Times team, who note that in that election a party called Reform came along to dominate right-wing politics, and went on to merge with the Conservatives. "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes", Mark Twain said. Maybe he is about to be proven wrong as a full-blown historical repetition happens before our very eyes.

    Today in Focus: Is 2024 really Nigel Farage's year? Yesterday's Telegraph poll predictions, which were disastrous for the Tories as we discussed, were also pretty dire for Reform. The poll suggested that the party would win precisely no seats. Which would put paid to Nigel Farage's claims he could be prime minister in 2029. Still, that is just one poll. Here, The Guardian's Esther Addley today asks whether, after failing to win a seat seven times previously, it could actually be eighth time lucky for Reform’s leader.

    Political Currency: George Osborne thinks that Labour's huge lead in the polls isn't because people hugely believe in them but rather just because they don't want the Tories to win. Accordingly, he warns that unless Keir Starmer can offer more, he may find himself turfed out after just one term. Ed Balls agrees and says Starmer and Rachel Reeves should be thinking now about their first year in office, not just making it through the next fortnight. Good insightful future-gazing.

    Novara Media: Also looking ahead to a potential Labour government and what it may bring are the Novara Media team who ask whether the Iraq War was the exception or the rule in terms of Labour's foreign policy. They note that throughout the twentieth century, Labour governments were involved in some of Britain’s most disastrous colonial acts: the partition of India, the counter-insurgency in Malaya, and the Nakba. So, they ask, what can we expect this time? Very good question, well explored.

    And now for something completely different

    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day: If, like Donald Trump, you have won so much that you have got bored with winning, then maybe you might want to look into the alternative. In this joyous pod, novelist and journalist Elizabeth Day celebrates all the ways things can go wrong and what we might learn from them. The format is that a guest comes on and together with Day they explore three failures and try to think how they might have actually benefited from them in some way. Or at least how they might do better next time. In the most recent ep, Day speaks to Irish model and presenter Vogue Williams to discuss everything from imposter syndrome to dealing with low self-esteem, failed IVF and what is a normal amount of sex to be having. It's election season, the biggest turn-off and buzzkill of all the seasons. Surely the nation has taken a vow of abstinence until this whole thing blows over. Anyway, great show, with loads of lively discussions.

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