Downing Street statement at 5pm
May 22, 2024 8:52 AM   Subscribe

BBC News link Here we go - it's election time!

Or is it? Tune in at 5pm to find out!
posted by YoungStencil (140 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Rumours have been circulating since early this afternoon, and now it looks as if it's really going to happen. Most likely date is 4 July, but it could be earlier. He could hang on until January if he really wants.
posted by YoungStencil at 8:54 AM on May 22

4 July 2025, right? Oh you don't subject yourselves to an interminably hellish election season? Odd.
posted by axiom at 9:02 AM on May 22 [12 favorites]

So say goodbye, it's Independence Day, it's Independence Day all down the line...
posted by chavenet at 9:06 AM on May 22

Ugh, I’m going to spending most of June in the uk, and I am not looking forward to seeing a lot of electioneering material. I am, however, looking forward to the Conservative Party facing an epic trouncing.
posted by The River Ivel at 9:18 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]

It's official - 4 July.

All you really need to know is that this 5pm statement started at 5:13 with the Prime Minister standing outside in the rain gradually getting wet. Competence is not a strong suit.

And yes, 4 July this year. The winner should take office the next day, unless it's a hung parliament.
posted by YoungStencil at 9:19 AM on May 22 [11 favorites]

I’d feel a lot better about this news if Keir Starmer didn’t have huge “you had one job” energy.

That said, it feels almost impossible to imagine any other outcome than him being Prime Minister by July 5th.
posted by Kattullus at 9:21 AM on May 22 [8 favorites]

quite a headline: Sodden Sunak drowned out by Labour anthem
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:37 AM on May 22 [10 favorites]

All you really need to know is that this 5pm statement started at 5:13 with the Prime Minister standing outside in the rain gradually getting wet. Competence is not a strong suit.

Is the theory that an umbrella is too dangerous an accessory after Johnson's debacle in 2021?
posted by axiom at 9:37 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]

Time to vote Labour while channelling Bob Belcher.
posted by fight or flight at 9:45 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]

Who is the Monster Raving Loony Party fielding?
posted by AJaffe at 9:55 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]

Come on, bring back a special Mock the Week series.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:00 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]

Keir Starmer's first act as PM should be to put a bullet in the back of the Conservative Party's head by abolishing First Past The Post and make the Tories an unelectable historical relic. But because it benefits the smaller parties and doesn't directly help Labour, I have zero faith he will do this. And he's already said he won't.

My most hardcore Labour supporting friend believes Starmer is just saying what he needs to in order to be palatable to disaffected Tory voters and the media and business establishment, and once he's in power, he'll be a force for true change. Bless their heart for still believing in something and I hope they are right but there is zero evidence that Starmer is anything but the ever-so-slightly more left learning version of the omnipresent "Self > Party > Country" template of politician.
posted by slimepuppy at 10:03 AM on May 22 [17 favorites]

This is not a big surprise; there's been talk of tactically going for a snap election in the early summer for several reasons:
* Thames Water is in really bad financial shape for the usual reasons, and if it goes under may need some kind of bail-out (no pun intended) of £16 billion of taxpayers money.
* One of the less subtle forms of UK voter suppression is that students and other demographics who typically vote left or left of centre have a much stricter criteria of ID than demographics who typically vote right. A snap election makes it difficult for various student and other organisations to quickly raise awareness amongst their cohorts before it becomes impractical.
* Other long-term scandals e.g. blood transfusions, post office convictions, which have been put off for decades because of the usual cover-ups. corruption and politics, are going to need large taxpayer-funded payouts.
* In yet another 'can kicked down the road', as time goes by the chances of the collapse of one of many schools or hospitals causing fatalities increases, with the consequent political, social and economic consequences and immediate need to throw a massive amount of money quickly at the problem.
* There's many other costly legacy problems which are quickly getting worse, such as the flood of teachers quitting, and police being told to arrest fewer people because prisons (also deteriorating but for different reasons than schools) are full.
* A combination of relentless bad winter weather for UK farmers, and bureaucratic layers added to food imports because ideology of assholes, means food prices will spiral upwards as 2024 progresses. Bread and circuses, food bank use spirals further, real risk of societal breakdown.
* The coalition of right wing 'newspapers' e.g. Sun, Telegraph, Mail, Express, have apparently got their attack lines ready. Expect the screaming of "Starmer Let Britain's Biggest Paedo Free" (context: Jimmy Saville, and he didn't), "Angela Dodged Paying Her Taxes" and "Keir Will Force Us Back Into Europe".
* Speaking of Europe, the Tories will have picking an artificial or confected fight with Europe as a central reason to vote for them. "EU Judges Want To Block Deporting Illegal Immigrants" will probably be the toxically-worded tabloid headline.
* Highly related - in their manifesto they may also go with one of the leftfield, but tabloid-loving, ideas they've been floating at focus groups recently, such as offering a referendum on the death penalty (which in reality will never be implemented), as the tabloids can then scream "Europe Judges Block You Voting To Hang Child Murderers".

Result prediction: one of two results after 43 days of relentlessly negative onslaught against Labour, and a general failure of tactical voting under the FPTP voting system:
1. Labour scrape narrow majority, no more than 30 and probably less. Small groups of Labour MPs call the shots. A Labour government, inheriting a shattered economy and failing infrastructure, is overwhelmed, forced to raise some taxes at which point the tabloids and Conservatives scream. Keir quits as leader/PM within 2 years.
2. Conservatives end up with the most seats, attempt to run a minority government; this lasts for several months, extreme austerity because refuses to raise taxes, government collapses, elections again next Easter.

(The Green Party will also pick up by far a record number of votes for them but, again, FPTP system, will win a maximum of 2 seats out of the 650).
posted by Wordshore at 10:08 AM on May 22 [36 favorites]

We in the US used to have an election cycle, now it's just continuous. I envy the UK's approach. Best of luck to you.
posted by tommasz at 10:13 AM on May 22 [7 favorites]

The Wikipedia page for the 2024 United Kingdom general election, which has been undergoing some intense editing this last few hours, has the numbers about current representations.

(Obscure question: without reading up and off the top of your head, can you name all 13 parties with MPs in the House of Commons?)
posted by Wordshore at 10:21 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]

Ah fuck, that’s gonna make July here in Northern Ireland even weirder, by channeling the Unionism bands a week early in the run up to election, and then adding tensions as no one will be happy with the result as the bonfires are lit.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:21 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]

LOL Soggy Sunak.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 10:25 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]

Keir Starmer's first act as PM should be to put a bullet in the back of the Conservative Party's head by abolishing First Past The Post

Ignorant colonial here. In the US changing the election system like this would be a Herculean process. Is it really that simple in the UK?
posted by star gentle uterus at 10:34 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]

@mrzarquon Orange Walks and the Scottish schools will be shut by then. No consideration at all

Labour have finally drifted right enough to make them electable in England. The whole "red wall" thing where people can easily switch between Con and Lab with no pause is fascinating.

@star gentle uterus The NI, Welsh and Scottish elections already use differing forms of PR so the systems are in use. However it would probably prevent majority governments at the Westminster level which would not e allowed.
posted by stuartmm at 10:41 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]

Is it really that simple in the UK?

Yes! A simple majority of folks at ~51% in the UK are in favour of electoral reform, and there is an effort to make PR part of the Labour party manifesto. The House of Commons can just pass one of several proposed pieces of legislation and that is essentially it. Of course, that process includes the less than essential steps of getting the king to give it the pro-forma thumbs up and that only comes after those very special Lords get a minute to have a think about it.

But also no- here's a 56 page report (pdf) from some centrists at Cambridge, essentially saying the future can't be known and there are implications. They conclude that the best next step is a public referendum. You know, like Brexit.
posted by zenon at 10:59 AM on May 22 [11 favorites]

Vote out to help out.
posted by Lorc at 11:12 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]

Fuckity. Fuck.

The next six weeks are going to be.. awful.
posted by Faintdreams at 11:13 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]

In the US changing the election system like this would be a Herculean process. Is it really that simple in the UK?

The UK has no written constitution so there's no constitutional barrier to that happening. But the precedent is that you have a referendum on major changes, or at least put what you're planning in your election manifesto so the voters have a chance to reject it. Sneaking in a major constitutional change by surprise would be so intensely unpopular as to be politicially infeasible.

Also we had a referendum on changing from FPTP to AV in 2011 and it was defeated 68% to 32%.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:14 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]

The next six weeks are going to be.. awful.

Yup. My fear (well, one of them) is that as we approach election day, if it looks like Labour will win then there'll be a successful assassination attempt (someone tipped over the edge by something inflammatory written or said in the tabloids, or Galloway, or GB News, or something written on Facebook, or... etc) on Keir.

I mentioned this to one of my colleagues who scoffed and said "We don't assassinate our politicians here; that's an American thing" so I had to remind him about Jo Cox and David Amess, and that sending death threats to politicians in the UK is a usual thing nowadays.
posted by Wordshore at 11:24 AM on May 22 [7 favorites]

Ian Dunt:
For a brief moment before Rishi Sunak appeared outside of Downing Street, the skies cleared. That long persistent drizzle of the last few days seemed to finally let up for a moment. And there must have been a sense inside the building, a forlorn hope perhaps, that maybe today was his lucky day. Perhaps today his fortune would change.

Maybe it was the right time to call an election after all. Everything else has failed. Every other reset had collapsed. Perhaps the campaign itself would improve things. Perhaps, all other options now lost, it could provide the reset he'd dreamed of. Maybe Labour would crumble in the spotlight and he would gain a sense of verve and dynamism from having taken such a high-stakes gamble.

So Sunak emerged from the famous front door and strode over to the lectern outside. The journalists hushed. And then, as he began to speak - seemingly the very moment he opened his mouth - the rain started again. Great bulging drops of water, splattering across his suit, dripping down his shoulders. Who let him out there? Which member of his staff suggested to him that he should deliver the statement outside? Who sent him off without an umbrella? Who thought any of this was a good idea?

And then, remarkably, as if he were ignoring every element of what was happening, Sunak began to talk about his plan. He has a plan. Labour doesn't have a plan. Trust the plan. Don't go back to step one. But he was, quite literally, a man outside, in the rain, without an umbrella. He was the visual representation of someone who did not have a plan.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:39 AM on May 22 [34 favorites]

A sodden Sunak. What a great visual metaphor for the current state of the Conservatives. As already pointed out, this is a preemptive bail by the Conservatives, so that the bombs whose fuses they lit will all go off during Labour's tenure.

From across the pond, Starmer seems underwhelming. He's not Corbyn, which I guess was the point...

The next six weeks are going to be.. awful.

But only six weeks. Compare with the 18+ month 2-ring circus that is the leadup to US presidential elections.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:47 AM on May 22 [4 favorites]

Maybe we could focus on the UK issues, outcomes, and processes?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:59 AM on May 22 [11 favorites]

abolishing First Past The Post

As a Canadian who was given Promises (and even Committees), I wish you luck.
posted by clawsoon at 12:04 PM on May 22 [6 favorites]

Yeah this is pretty cynical as covered above. The Conservatives know they're screwed the next 5 to 10 years so best to let Labour back in and take the blame. But calling it with short notice means there's also a chance they scrape through again.

> Keir Starmer's first act as PM should be to put a bullet in the back of the Conservative Party's head by abolishing First Past The Post and make the Tories an unelectable historical relic. But because it benefits the smaller parties and doesn't directly help Labour, I have zero faith he will do this. And he's already said he won't.

Getting PR through would be a sensible mid to long term change for Labour - proper PR, not AV which is arguably worse than FPTP. It'll cost them in the short term, but it will also rip out a significant chunk of the Conservatives' hold as well so it would benefit everyone.

It's probably the only way this bullshit 10 years of Labour then 15 years of Conservatives cycle is ever going to be broken.
posted by lawrencium at 12:09 PM on May 22 [7 favorites]

Defunding prisons as a way to enact prison abolition and shrink the role of police is actually the kind of thing I'm here for.
posted by constraint at 12:17 PM on May 22

The sense of relief is palpable. I haven’t known such a clearly exhausted government since… well, maybe Jim Callaghan?
posted by Phanx at 12:20 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]

Result prediction: one of two results after 43 days of relentlessly negative onslaught against Labour, and a general failure of tactical voting under the FPTP voting system:
1. Labour scrape narrow majority, no more than 30 and probably less. ...
2. Conservatives end up with the most seats, attempt to run a minority government ... elections again next Easter.

Counterpoint: Tories end up with barely 100 seats in Parliament. We have six weeks to glory in this prospect and I'm not gonna be preemptively gloomy this time.

proper PR, not AV which is arguably worse than FPTP

It isn't, and UK people convincing themselves of that gave us ten more years of the Tories and everything that went with it, but heigh ho. PR is obviously best, but we won't have another shot at it until we have another hung parliament. Which won't be this time (see rose-tinted prediction above).
posted by rory at 12:34 PM on May 22 [7 favorites]

Counterpoint: Tories end up with barely 100 seats in Parliament.

Are those the same polls that were totally convinced that Remain would win in 2016? And ended up convincing people to not take the vote seriously because "obviously" it was safe for Remain, and they could stay home rather than voting?

Yeah, I'll believe it when the votes are in. Up until that point, believe nothing, vote like your future depends on it.
posted by fight or flight at 12:46 PM on May 22 [9 favorites]

The rain was a nice touch, but extra bonus points need to go to arranging for D:Ream's Things Can Only Get Better to be playing the background, drowning out the speech. For best effect, this footage direct from Downing street to twitter.
posted by plonkee at 1:16 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]

Armando Iannucci once again put out of a job by the absurdity of reality.
posted by fight or flight at 1:20 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]

> @mrzarquon Orange Walks and the Scottish schools will be shut by then. No consideration at all

I knew what I was getting into moving here, but whenever I'm reminded how much of an afterthought NI is to England, I still can't help but think how sad it must be for Unionists here. No wonder they're so angry and externalizing their rejection.

I can't wait to become a citizen and be able to use Single Transferable Vote, even though it will be effectively meaningless in Westminster and likely Stormont will have collapsed again by the time I get my passport. But also at this rate I might be voting in a United Ireland referendum before a STV based local election.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:42 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]

From Bluesky: DIMBLEFACT: PARLIAMENT IS DISSOLVED BY THE SPEAKER, WHO FLOODS THE CHAMBER WITH VINEGAR CARRIED IN A CEREMONIAL LEATHER SATCHEL. If we lived in a Jane Austen novel, Rishi Sunak would die at the end of election because he stood out in the rain jabbering away, and the narrator would be very judgemental. People have explained to me, on multiple occasions, how British elections work. I retained none of that information. I still believe that there is a severely inbred dog in a cage under Big Ben, and they call an election every time it pisses itself. For those not following, the Lord Haberdasher of Brimbleton has presented Rishi Sunak with a stolen Egyptian chalice. If Sunak places three mushy peas in it, the election will be on Wednefday, otherwise he muste sit watch with a wench at ye castel bridge for nine dayes and eight nyghtes I think the chance to see Rees-Mogg, the reanimated cadaver of a Victorian failure, suffer a Portillo moment is worth a General Election on it's own.

(visual) Forced to work in the rain unnecessarily? Join a union.
posted by Wordshore at 1:47 PM on May 22 [15 favorites]

I was actually disenfranchised as a 15+ years overseas resident for a couple of years, until that law was changed at the start of this year. And I have to say re-registering for a postal vote just now was one of the easiest, clearest explained bits of online bureaucracy I've ever done, with exceptionally well signposted options around different possible accessibility issues.

Not taking anything for granted in our current timeline, but I'm hoping it's a good omen, and having been able to personally put the shoe in will be the cherry on the cake in a few weeks when the ̶B̶e̶r̶k̶e̶l̶e̶y̶ Jeremy Hunts have been well and truly kicked to the kerb.
posted by protorp at 1:56 PM on May 22 [8 favorites]

I'm wondering whether announcing this in the rain was the only way for Rishi to do it without anyone spotting he was crying.
posted by biffa at 2:34 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]

Massive caveats in this snippet from The Guardian's live blog, not least that it relies on someone from GB News being both accurate and honest...

+ + + + +

“Furious” Conservative MPs are plotting to call off the general election and replace Sunak as leader before parliament is dissolved next Thursday, according to Christopher Hope, a political editor on GB News.

He tweeted on X that a rebel Tory MP told him he believes “several” more letters of no confidence in Sunak have been submitted to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.

The senior Conservative MP reportedly told Hope:

Today has clearly been an absolute disaster but the election is NOT irrevocable; up until the point of the Dissolution of parliament - when the writs are moved to begin the contests, it can still be aborted.

“In other words, if enough Tory MPs, who are clearly going to lose their seats in this already utterly shambolic campaign, write to Sir Graham Brady, tomorrow , the election could still be revoked.”
posted by Wordshore at 2:38 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]

I just got citizenship and the right to vote about two and a half years ago. This is the first general election I've been able to vote in.

I am going to take great pleasure and no small amount of civic pride in marching down to my polling place first thing on July 4th and voting the fucking Tories out so hard that you can hear it from space.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:39 PM on May 22 [16 favorites]

“Furious” Conservative MPs are plotting to call off the general election and replace Sunak as leader before parliament is dissolved next Thursday, according to Christopher Hope, a political editor on GB News.

On the one hand, this would be bad because it would give us another 6 months or so of this godawful government.

On the other hand, it would be extremely funny.
posted by Urtylug at 2:47 PM on May 22 [8 favorites]

Noting that there are 43 days between the election announcement and election day, which is only 6 days shorter than the entire period of Liz Truss being Prime Minister.
posted by Wordshore at 2:48 PM on May 22 [11 favorites]

It's one of those things where I wonder very very much what Charles will think and what advice he will be given.
posted by edd at 2:49 PM on May 22

“Furious” Conservative MPs are plotting to call off the general election and replace Sunak as leader before parliament is dissolved next Thursday, according to Christopher Hope, a political editor on GB News.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought a failed confidence vote also triggered an election?
posted by notoriety public at 4:13 PM on May 22

They're not suggesting a parliamentary vote of no confidence. They're suggesting an internal party vote for a new party leader who would then also be prime minister.
posted by biffa at 4:17 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]

Are those the same polls that were totally convinced that Remain would win in 2016? And ended up convincing people to not take the vote seriously because "obviously" it was safe for Remain, and they could stay home rather than voting? Yeah, I'll believe it when the votes are in. Up until that point, believe nothing, vote like your future depends on it.

Are you suggesting that people won’t be doing their absolute damnedest to get to the polls on 4 July and vote these bastards out? Because that doesn’t sound like the thoroughly pissed off public we hear about at every turn these days. It’s going to be a massive turnout and the Tories are going to get their arses kicked. They were polling at 20% in February. TWENTY. They aren’t going to turn that around in six weeks of Rishi the Real Boy trying to convince us that flights to Rwanda will take our minds off falling living standards.

I was worried going into the referendum, and for good reason as it turned out. Didn’t think Corbyn would win in 2017 or 2019, and he didn’t. I’ve resigned myself to the worst many times, but I’m not going to this time. They’re screwed, and they know it, and everyone knows they know. And if, somehow, they pull off the upset of the century and scrape back in, at least we’ll have had six weeks of the blissful prospect of their imminent demise to take our minds off the Endlessness.
posted by rory at 5:46 PM on May 22 [10 favorites]

1992: "Are you suggesting that people won’t be doing their absolute damnedest to get to the polls on 9th April and vote in Prime Minister-in-waiting Neil Kinnock and vote these tory bastards out?"

The people on 9th April 1992: "You know what? That Kinnock sounds a bit Welsh to me. Can't have that as Prime Minister. Better stick with what we know."

+ + + + +

2015: "Are you suggesting that people won’t be doing their absolute damnedest to get to the polls on 7th May and vote in Prime Minister-in-waiting Ed Miliband and vote these tory bastards out?"

The people on 7th May 2015: "You know what? I don't like the way Miliband ate that bacon sandwich. Can't have that as Prime Minister. Better stick with what we know."
posted by Wordshore at 7:53 PM on May 22 [10 favorites]

For those wondering about the 4th July date I believe that UK elections are always held on Thursdays - the date chosen probably follows from that
posted by mbo at 8:11 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]

I was actually disenfranchised as a 15+ years overseas resident for a couple of years

Oh thanks for that! I assumed I’d never be able to vote as a now long term Canadian. Will look into it.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:06 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]

The people on 9th April 1992: "You know what? That Kinnock sounds a bit Welsh to me. Can't have that as Prime Minister. Better stick with what we know."
The people on 7th May 2015: "You know what? I don't like the way Miliband ate that bacon sandwich. Can't have that as Prime Minister. Better stick with what we know."

Sure. I voted in both of those elections for both of them, and hoped that enough others might as well to get them in, but I definitely wasn't gobsmacked when they didn't. But this time I absolutely would be, is all I'm saying. Why not draw comparisons with 1979 and 1997? Did anyone seriously expect the Major government to get back in in 1997?

I know that Starmer isn't the most exciting leader, and has the charisma of... well, a John Major. And look what Major managed in '92. Starmer is the dull and safe option here. The most eye-rolling moment of Sunak's announcement yesterday, when you could hear it over the D:Ream in the background, was his suggestion that it was better to stick with the Tories than risk uncertainty under Starmer. The brass neck of it! Cameron got away with that in 2015, but Sunak won't this time around. We all saw the Tories pull the pin out of the grenade in 2022 and blow up the economy, and we've all been living with the results. I'm sure Sunak was tempted to say "chaos" rather than uncertainty but knew that he couldn't, because the weight of cosmic irony would have folded the space-time continuum into a Downing Street-centred black hole.

My second response above was to the comment (not yours, Wordshore) that we should "vote like your future depends on it" with the suggestion that my unbridled glee was somehow being complacent. I'm not being complacent. I think turnout will be high because nobody is going to want the chance to throw tomatoes at the Tories as they sit in the stocks. I'm absolutely going to vote, just as I have at every election since I turned 18, and I really don't think there will be many people this time who'll think "nah, I won't bother, none of that matters to me" (as in 2016) or "nah, I won't bother, the Labour leader is too Welsh/too gormless/too loony Lefty". The press and the government tried to repeat their bacon-sandwich stunt against Starmer with the whole lockdown curry business, and it didn't work.

But hey, we've both staked our flags in the sand with contrasting predictions, so at least one of us is going to feel like Nostradamus on 5 July. I'm saying 150 seats max for the Tories and a high turnout; you've predicted either a Labour majority of at most 30 seats or a hung parliament and minority Tory government. Any of those outcomes is better than what we have now.

If I'm wrong and the Tories scrape home, I'll at least have the grim reassurance that they'll have to lie in the bed they've made for themselves (and, unfortunately, the rest of us). My fear at the moment isn't that Labour will lose this election, it's that the shit flowing down the river is going to drown them after they do, and the irony of that D:Ream song won't only attach to the Tories.
posted by rory at 11:55 PM on May 22 [7 favorites]

Today has clearly been an absolute disaster but the election is NOT irrevocable; up until the point of the Dissolution of parliament - when the writs are moved to begin the contests, it can still be aborted.

Nothing says 'trust me' and 'stability' like cancelling an election you've called.
posted by Dysk at 12:08 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Some of the analysis that I’ve read suggests that, without tackling cost of living crisis, or generally making things better, a starmer led labour will open the door to a hard right government. “We tried those lefties!”, would be the argument, despite the fact that Starmer is shaping up for five years of boring technocratic leadership that maintains a status quo
posted by The River Ivel at 12:54 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

(Love one of the comments on it: "What if we vote the (clearly) wrong way again? What if Britain does a Britain? I’m scared, Ian.")
posted by rory at 1:13 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Are those the same polls that were totally convinced that Remain would win in 2016? And ended up convincing people to not take the vote seriously because "obviously" it was safe for Remain, and they could stay home rather than voting?

Yeah, I'll believe it when the votes are in. Up until that point, believe nothing, vote like your future depends on it.

A number of polls had brexit neck and neck by the end, within the margin of error too close to call, as it tightened considerably during the run up. Yet much of the media, and advocates for Remain complacently didn't believe them, and thought the earlier polling, and the ones that still agreed with it, with a modest lead for remain, were still correct. They were wrong, and the polling by yougov etc turned out to be right.

Labour have been 20+ points ahead in all the polls for nearly two years, The usual media monstering just hasn't landed (Beergate, Saville, Captain Hindsight has no plan etc etc) Sunak's bounce (after Truss!) was super short, the Tory trouncing in recent council elections was almost exactly as predicted, and we've had repeatedly some of the largest swings in history (and significant tactical voting) in byelections.

Everything and everyone is broke, and the country is just outright sick of the tories. Starmer may not be the radical agent of change that some people want, he's definitely about as exciting as soap, and he's definitely no Corbyn (for good and bad). But even pessimistic polling has him on a 100 seat majority, while MRP has him on 250+!!

Of course, the size of the Labour majority will be down to tactical voting between Lib Dems and Labour etc, the impact of Reform on taking away tory votes, if the police do decide to charge Rayner based on a tory smear, and a bunch of other factors. But we have really good reason to hope that we're finally going to see the back of the fucking tories, *while* we work to get them out.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 1:27 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Did anyone seriously expect the Major government to get back in in 1997?

That's the interesting outlier, as Tony Blair is the only non-Conservative to end up as Prime Minister after a general election since the {another hair pings grey as I type this} late 1970s. A large enabler for TB being a good ride in the press, and his very close friendship with Rupert Murdoch:

"When he was Labour leader Mr Blair angered many in the party, including former leader Neil Kinnock, who had been vilified by Mr Murdoch's Sun newspaper ahead of the 1992 general election, with his decision to woo Mr Murdoch. The two struck up a friendship after he accepted an invitation to address a News Corporation conference on Hayman Island, Australia, in 1995, when Mr Blair was the leader of the opposition."

...and being formally recommended, coincidentally six weeks before election day.

Keir doesn't have that. He has the (not total) support of the Guardian, and the Mirror, and ... that's it. The media deck is stacked against him, even more so now (e.g. Facebook local groups, various green media going down the "The Tories and Labour are as bad as each other" route and dissuading from tactical voting). That polling lead is as soft as a chocolate teapot in the climate-accelerated heatwaves we're going to endure.

I hope you are very right and I am very wrong, large numbers of the population will see through the firehose of shit that's going to be sprayed onto them for the next six weeks, and just for once they won't forget (unelected) Truss trashing the economy, the various corruptions and scandals, how much better the NHS was in 2010 compared to now, Boris's "fuck business" and "let the bodies pile high", and so much more this last, fucking grim, 14 years on what sometimes feels like a large open prison moored just off the coast of Europe.

But based on repeated experience of how this population do what they're told, including the "You will now grieve, commoners" in the days after Diana died*, and the Brexit referendum - and here's a nice research paper about that - I do not share your optimism.

[* my even more cynical colleague expects something like a deepfake video of Keir slagging off Diana to circulate on Facebook in the last week of campaigning, enraging enough of the Wetherspoons demographic to definitely get out and vote]
posted by Wordshore at 1:41 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

The huge inflation and mortgage rate hammering Truss and Sunak have inflicted on us all is still very much in people's minds as they scrimp to get through every day, the massive water company rip off to the tune of billions while the seas and rivers are full of shit, the post office scandal right there, and every single public service people have to use is at breaking point or already past it. And Sunak's offer is maybe, finally, sending a few hundred refugees to Rwanda, and keeping us safe from China and Russia that he suddenly came up with last week - while the tory MP's are all busy cross-briefing against each other in the media while they jostle for power in the post-election rump, or in 65 tory MPs case, already thrown in the towel and won't be standing?

This may not be quite as big as 1997, but it sure as hell isn't 2015. People are just too broke to believe the lies any more.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 1:52 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

The newspapers aren't the dominant political force they once were. Here's an indication of how their favourite talking points are landing—or very much not.

Ah well, fingers crossed, and of course let's keep pointing out the Tory BS at every opportunity and encouraging people to vote them out.
posted by rory at 2:06 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]

If Sunak thought that making his statement in the open during a rainstorm would show some sort of fighting spirit, the UK's front pages really aren't with him. This may be one of the worst campaigning missteps since Mike Dukakis' tank ride.
posted by Major Clanger at 5:11 AM on May 23

The newspapers aren't the dominant political force they once were.

Whilst this is true you only have to look at the absolutely baseless monstering that Corbyn got to see that the firehose of shit still has power.
People might not care that much about the issues they're trying to push, but the continuous onslaught of insinuation and insult still works. Ed Milliband is still remembered for bacon sandwiches, rather than any of his policy positions.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:40 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

The Tories have the following advantages: the support of significant newspapers, a large existing majority, favourable constituency boundary changes, not needing to win in Scotland, some access to the machinery of government, possible splitting of the Muslim vote by independents.

Labour have the following advantages: everything feels like it's broken, 5 different prime ministers in 8-ish years, Tory party in-fighting, massive advantages in the polls, possible splitting of the right wing vote by Reform, possible tactical voting against Tories and towards the Lib Dems

Teresa May managed to throw away a 20 point lead in the 2017 election campaign but she was still prime minister at the end of it.

If Rishi Sunak is going to still be Prime Minister throughout July, then the Tories need to pull off a miracle.
posted by plonkee at 6:00 AM on May 23

Wikipedia: Reform UK is a right-wing populist political party in the United Kingdom. It was founded by Catherine Blaiklock with support from Nigel Farage in November 2018 as the Brexit Party, advocating hard Euroscepticism and a no-deal Brexit.

If you read a little further in that article, what Blaiklock actually did was establish "The Brexit Party Limited". This became The Reform UK Party Limited, but it remains a private limited company, which is distinct from the other parties.
posted by biffa at 8:05 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Was surprised to have a targeted Labour ad pop up for me on YouTube at home this evening. Constituency specific 90 seconds with the Labour candidate. Clearly prepped well ahead of the announcement and I guess they will have a bunch ready to roll out elsewhere. The leading policy issue was the climate emergency and the need to protect the environment (though not mentioning the shit in the sea and rivers, despite us being a seaside location with a big river/harbour running through the middle of the constituency). Climate related jobs was linked in to that also.

We are a target seat for sure, just under 7% tory majority with a total inanity sitting MP.
posted by biffa at 3:44 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

One consideration for this election, in addition to the huge voting intention poll lead that the Labour Party have had for many months, is the desire for change. People just want a change, no matter how low they are on the information scale. This is one of the reasons the polls have been in Labour's favour for so long, in my opinion. The legacy media are not able to shift that feeling.

In 2017 and 2019 there was high polling for the sentiment that voters wanted a 'maverick' PM, someone who would shake up the old order and get things done. The legacy press managed to direct this sentiment towards Boris De Pfeffel Johnson, and away form the only potential PM with any chance of actually shaking things up in a way that might benefit the majority of the UK population. That desire may now have been spent, and in addition to the desire for a change, the kyriarchy friendly Kier Starmer may appear to be a safe pair of hands, despite the reality that he has reneged on every pledge he has made thus far in his short career as party leader.

The mind boggling levels of corruption and theft on the part of the current government does not get much, if any, legacy press coverage in the form of actually pointing fingers at those responsible. Sunak wrote off £4.3bn in fraudulent Covid business support loans as Chancellor, and another £15bn has been written down for unused PPE. The 'VIP' lane firehosed that money into the pockets of Conservative party adjacent people who quickly spent it on mansions, yachts and etc. The mess left by the Tories is genuinely worse than any previous government, £600m spent on the people smuggling programme to Rwanda, Special Economic Zones, the paucity of house building, the legal system in crisis, health system in crisis and education system in crisis, the ongoing Brexit disaster, citizen's rights eroded, the climate disaster ignored, and on the list goes.

Starmer and the rest of the apparently economically illiterate shadow cabinet parrot nonsense about 'not having money after the Truss budget' into the media echo chamber to justify the ideologically motivated and abusive 'austerity' doctrine, probably to appeal to the economically illiterate voting block, while stating they will not raise taxes for the wealthy. This is following the largest ever wealth transfer to the already wealthy facilitated by any UK government. Embarrassing to behold, and boding very badly for the UK population.

There's a sliver of a chance that Starmer would lose his seat, due to Andrew Feinstein running as an independent in Holborn and St Pancras on the not-being-a-genocide-enabler ticket. Current Labour Party policy is far to the right of Labour voter's political alignment, but not as far out of step with their own voters as the Tories.

Labour under Starmer don't pretend to care about people who have voted Labour in the past, so there's a chance that those people will have the sense to vote for a party that is not Labour, at least at numbers that scare the Labour party into being less awful. Those are people who will vote. Labour without a majority, having to garner support from Green Party MP's is a hope that many informed voters are aspiring for, but they are outnumbered by low information voters by a large margin.
posted by asok at 5:14 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]

"It may be salutary to recall that the last time Rishi Sunak ran a campaign and publicly debated his policies and leadership qualities, he was beaten by Liz Truss."
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 10:31 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

My constituency, Tory since John Denham stood down, must be vulnerable this time. Tory majority in 2019 was 4,500. In 2017 it was 31 votes, think it went to three recounts. Our sitting Tory is standing down and the Tory candidate is an privately-educated former investment banker from London; he is also Black, which I am ashamed to say may lose him some votes in our racist city. The Labour candidate is a local councillor so ought to have a chance, unless he gets caught by "why does the council keep digging up all the roads" which is the main political issue here. There is a Guardian article here from a couple of weeks ago about the constituencies Tory HQ has identified as vulnerable.

I poll clerked in the local elections for the first time and am considering whether to do it again for the GE. The other poll clerk and the presiding officer told me that it's much more difficult working a GE, much more hassle.
posted by paduasoy at 1:46 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

Even my other half confirmed she was going to vote Labour last night, which I didn't take on at the time, but she comes from a hard core Tory voting background and I think has gone Lib Dem for most of her life.

I have found it fascinating to spend time with her family since they are so nailed on as home county Tory voters. Its an article of faith that they will always be worse off under someone else. Even when they can see how bad the Tories are they can't bring themselves to vote elsewhere, not even Lib Dem I think.
posted by biffa at 2:37 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]

"Corbyn confirms he will stand against Labour"

"Labour will announce its candidate to replace him in his north London seat on 1 June.
A shortlist of two was drawn up by party officials rather than local members."
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:44 AM on May 24

There is a Guardian article here from a couple of weeks ago about the constituencies Tory HQ has identified as vulnerable.

Oh, looks like Penny Mourdant will have to take a break from covertly organising her 93rd Conservative Party leadership campaign in order to try and save her own parliamentary seat.
posted by Wordshore at 4:58 AM on May 24

New Cassetteboy just dropped.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:03 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]

Even when they can see how bad the Tories are they can't bring themselves to vote elsewhere, not even Lib Dem I think.

I have heard the same from friends about their extended (usually older) family members.

It has likely always been like this but there's a strong contingent who think of political parties like they were a football team and you stick by them even when they are actively awful and not aligned with your views. And you can justify it with "oh, they'll have a better go of it next season, with a new line-up and leadership".
posted by slimepuppy at 8:30 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]

As of 16:00, on 24 May 2024, 119 MPs have announced that they will not stand again at the next general election. MPs intending to stand again have until 4pm on 7 June to deliver their nomination papers and so it is likely that further announcements will follow in the coming days.
posted by adamvasco at 9:05 AM on May 24

Day three of the general election, and the growing suspicion that the organisers of Rishi Sunak's campaign are either sleeper agents, or have placed a huge amount of money on Labour to win a landslide.

Day 1: Announcement in the rain. And a journalist from Sky TV is removed from the following event while still filming. But that, so far, was the high point of the Conservative election campaign.

Day 2: Rishi on a site visit to a warehouse takes (easy) questions from some workers in safety gear ... except a few turned out to be planted Conservative councillors. Later in Wales, football supporter Rishi asked people if they were looking forward to the forthcoming European football tournament. Which Wales failed to qualify for. Silence.

Day 3: Today ... I can't believe this actually happened but it did ... in a chaotically-disorganised event, Sunak visited the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, yes, where the most famous sinking ship was built. Awkward questions!

Anything else? Apart from Sunak telling workers at a Guinness factory he prefers a fruity Rosé, then going on to say KFC beats Irish Stew hands down? Not really.

Ian Dale, former Conservative advisor, tweeted: "I mean seriously. Who is in charge of this shambles? Visiting the Titanic exhibition? What next - Sunak pays visit to local funeral directors? It’s almost unfathomable how many basic errors have been made and it’s only Day 3."
posted by Wordshore at 10:19 AM on May 24 [7 favorites] Piss up in a brewery yesterday, Titanic today. Not good optics. At least Sunak can put it all behind him on tomorrow's visit to the marzipan dildo factory. Who knows what day 65 will bring? Rishi parachuting into a field of manure. Rishi slapping multiple custard pies into his own face. Whatever, I am here for it. Sunak currently in Belfast and associating himself with The Titanic, so that would make two Prime Ministers in a row beaten by an iceberg.
posted by Wordshore at 10:34 AM on May 24 [9 favorites] According to The Telegraph’s account of yesterday [wednesday] by Fraser Nelson, Sunak went to see the King [to formally request that the parliamentary session is dissolved or concluded] without telling anyone. By the time he informed a select few Cabinet Ministers it was too late to stop him. They watched his announcement from Number 10 ashen-faced as it all fell apart.
CHARLES: Righto. Well, do you have a resignation letter?
CHARLES: Where is it then?
RISHI: It's on my LinkedIn. I have premium. Can I connect to you?
RISHI: i can help you set up an account and-
CHARLES: I'm on LinkedIn. I'm not going to connect to you.
posted by Wordshore at 11:21 AM on May 24 [8 favorites]

119 MPs have announced that they will not stand again at the next general election.

120: Michael Gove is not standing. From 2012: "Let me do it, David".
posted by Wordshore at 12:00 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]

So apparently in the cabinet meeting preceding the election announcement Michael Gove told Rishi Sunak “Who dares wins. You dared — and you will win.”

Michael Gove to stand down at general election. Excerpt:
Michael Gove has joined the now record-breaking exodus of Conservative MPs quitting the Commons, with the levelling up secretary saying it was time for a “new generation” to lead the party.
posted by Kattullus at 12:01 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]

Ian Dale, former Conservative advisor, tweeted: "I mean seriously. Who is in charge of this shambles? Visiting the Titanic exhibition? What next - Sunak pays visit to local funeral directors? It’s almost unfathomable how many basic errors have been made and it’s only Day 3."

Rumour has it that the chair of the 1922 committee was getting close to having received enough 'no confidence' letters to trigger yet another tory leadership election, with the implication being that Sunak then called the general election to spite them all - and presumably, run the worst campaign possible?

I don't believe that last bit at least, there's no way Sunak is that cunning. I think it's just that Suank's campaign team are bringing the same planning expertise, nous, and attention to detail the rest of his team have with literally everything else in government.

And I think we're up to 78 tory MPs fleeing the sinking ship standing down now, beating the record from 1997. Two of which have just had the whip returned[1] as a courtesy on the last day of Parliament; former minister Matt Hancock, who lost it for attempting to redeem his reputation by eating camel penis and cow anus on tv, instead of well, doing his job as an MP, and Bob Stewart who was convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence for telling a prominent human rights activist to "Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss. Go back to Bahrain." and "You're taking money off my country, go away." Warms the heart that they were welcomed back, it really does.

[1] allowed to rejoin the Tory party, not a kink shame.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 2:49 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]

When I first heard the headline I assumed this was Reform hot air, but no: Conservatives plan to bring back mandatory national service [BBC].

"It said 18-year-olds would have a choice of either joining the military full-time, or volunteering one weekend every month carrying out a community service." so it's not quite as insane as it sounds. But still a new milestone in redtop-courting hail Mary populism.
posted by Lorc at 2:27 PM on May 25

Has anyone asked them what they'll they do if everyone takes them up on the offer of full time employment and suddenly they've got to increase the size of the army from 70,000 people to 700,000?
posted by dng at 2:56 PM on May 25

I'm sure there's some Conservative staffer right now drawing up a plan to reconquer Kenya.
posted by clawsoon at 3:30 PM on May 25

That's an odd use of 'volunteer'.
posted by biffa at 4:34 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]

Not satisfied with having stolen our children's future in Europe, they now want to steal our children outright. This is some next-level Nosferatu shit.

They're going to drag out every ghastly policy of old over the coming weeks, aren't they? Bring back fox-hunting, bring back corporal punishment, bring back hanging. Force-feed the Suffragettes and lock the homosexualists up in Reading Gaol.
posted by rory at 6:28 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

The national service announcement is the party equivalent of your past life flashing before your eyes at the moment of death.

The Tories have hit their lowest vote share yet in a weekly tracker poll after voters apparently turned away from the party after Rishi Sunak called a snap election ... a mere 19 percent ... 26 points behind Labour who are now on 45 percent. According to Electoral Calculus, this result would leave the Conservatives with only 34 seats, the third party in Parliament behind the Lib Dems with Labour holding a majority of 388.

Not only will Sunak not be PM on 5 July, he'll be lucky to be Leader of the Opposition.

Big info dump from YouGov for the start of the election. One of these parties literally has no future.

Labour / Tory vote by age group
18-24: 57% / 8%
25-29: 59% / 9%
30-39: 60% / 10%
40-49: 52% / 15%
50-59: 46% / 19%
60-69: 34% / 27%
70+: 25% / 39%
posted by rory at 6:53 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]

The scary thing really is that even now, even with all this, a fifth of the voting population still intend to vote for Sunak's tories.
posted by Dysk at 12:10 AM on May 26

So true. I wrote somewhere else last month that 20% still seems surprisingly high, as surely by now their supporters should consist only of MPs and their immediate families.

Looking at those poll results again, those 70+ voters sure are doing some heavy lifting. A bit risky at that age.

(70+ in 2024 means you were born before 1954. Meanwhile, we Gen Xers are tracking right on the national average against the Tories. See, this is why we hate being swept up in "okay, boomer" stereotypes. Shout-out to those 25% of 70+ voters who aren't just voting out of nostalgia, habit or self-interest, too.)
posted by rory at 1:28 AM on May 26

dng: Of course they haven't costed this or looked at the feasibility, because the Tories are not expecting to actually win the election and so have to even pay lip service to implementing these proposed policies. They are dog-whistles for the most reactionary end of the collapsing Tory electorate that is otherwise either going to stay home or vote for Reform.

rory has it right. Stand by for six weeks of policy proposals that the Duke of Wellington might have thought a little on the extreme side. My own Tory Loony Manifesto Bingo Card contains:
  • Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Repealing the Human Rights Act. (This has actually been a goal of the Tories for years, but they keep falling down on the question of what to replace it with. Sunak is just going to say that they won't, or there will be a vague British Bill of Rights Act which will somehow get rid of all the protections of the HRA for Bad People without removing any of the cherished British values embodied in the HRA for the protection of Good People.)
  • Holding a referendum on re-introducing the death penalty.
  • Banning the NHS from providing gender reassignment treatment
  • Introducing a National ID Card which will record and display the holder's registered birth sex. (Dammit, they will go the whole hog and make them colour-coded, and make it a legal obligation to produce one when challenged by anyone in a designated single-sex space, which, by the way, all toilets accessible to the public will have to be.)
  • Replacing criminal legal aid with a voluntary insurance-based system. (Of course, insurers will be allowed to have access to your criminal record, and set premiums according to that, or your postcode.)
The aim won't be to win the election, it will be to try to keep the bloodbath of 'safe' seat losses to a tolerable level. The damage will be done though, by dragging the Overton Window even further to the right.
posted by Major Clanger at 2:54 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]

I'm almost tempted by the conspiracy theory that Rishi Sunak is a sleeper agent for the Labour Party. The big problem for Labour is trying to motivate younger voters to actually get out and vote when They're All The Same Anyway. Then along comes Rishi Sunak to threaten to send young people off to join the army...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:46 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]

Just had an anti Labour ad pop up on YT. Not clear who was paying for it. It was a Starmer action man with 3 different coloured backgrounds and a caption for each. It was pretty weak and the only part of the message I picked up was that they were saying Starmer sometimes changes his mind.
posted by biffa at 8:49 AM on May 26

I do find it vaguely hilarious that their main attack on Starmer is for changing his mind when the circumstances do, when it's been their rigid adherance to ideological dogma, reality be damned, that has lead to so many crisises and so much misery.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 11:55 AM on May 26

I am depending on this thread to keep me up to date with whatever further lunacy might develop.
posted by clawsoon at 4:15 PM on May 26

Today on R4 this morning had some Tory minister or other on to defend the national service proposal, and it was suitably grim. It's grim just knowing that we have to hear them bleat on for weeks about policies they'll never get a chance to enact, as if they're real. It's Baudrillard politics.

Meanwhile, Starmer has said he's going to lower the voting age to 16, which would have spared us a lot of headaches if someone had done it a decade ago. It should keep future national service proposals at bay, at least.

My 17-year-old son can't vote at this election and yet stands to be called up for national service as soon as the Tories bring it in, should they miraculously win thanks to the 70+ vote. Meanwhile, nobody in the UK under the age of 82 has ever been called up for it. Entire lives spent free of the fear of having their lives derailed or cut short, and it wasn't as if those years were without threats to Britain's defence and security. Yet again, the Tories just want to appeal to WWII nostalgia among people who aren't old enough to have experienced it. (That, and undo fifteen years of defence spending cuts on the cheap—and extend the Overton Window for next time, as Major Clanger notes above.)
posted by rory at 3:47 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]

A couple more things about National Service.

On looking closer, the Tories seem to be trying to give different messages to different audiences.

1. Their press release said it would be compulsory and focused on the military. To their enraged-pensioner voters they're presenting it as like the old national service.

2. But on TikTok (yes) Rishi Sunak is presenting it as a voluntary scheme where you spend one weekend a month doing vague community stuff.

3. Complicating it further, they're talking about making public sector jobs contigent on having done National Service.

So 1 would be incredibly expensive, incredibly unpopular and wouldn't actually be militarily effective. MeFi's Own Charles Stross wrote a good piece the last time "Bring Back National Service" was on the agenda as to why conscription is a bad idea. Gammon pensioners will of course love the idea: that'll punish those horrible young people for being all young!

2 wouldn't be very damaging. But it's hard to see many people signing up. This kind of scheme works in other countries, but in particular the kind of countries that still give their young people free university education. In Britain 18 year olds are supposed to be spending your weekends working double shifts in McDonalds to get an early start on paying off their student debt. Also this doesn't actually gratify the enraged pensioners.

3 would be Ok in the short term but devastating in the long term, making it even harder to recruit people for the understaffed public services.

Which option is it? They won't say, because they're going to leave the "details", meaning the basic aspects of how it will work, down to a Royal Commission in the future.

The whole thing is a just vapid exercise in fantasy world posturing. There's no actual plan there, just empty slogans.

The other thing is that the actual National Service in peacetime didn't even last that long. It started in 1949 and was gradually wound down between 1957 and 1963. As someone on the Spectator pointed out, people have been nostalgic for National Service for many times longer than it actually existed. Was it ever really an effective way of getting people into the military? Or was it just part of post-War Britain's desperate attempt to pretend it was still a superpower? "Look at all these soldiers we have! Some of them even know which end of a rifle the bullets come out of!"
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:19 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]

The Telegraph has a handy Q&A:

Will 18-year-olds at university be exempt or allowed to defer?
No. Everyone will have to do National Service and fit it around their lives. There will be very limited deferments and none for university students.

What if the young person has a job?
There will be no exemption for those who are in work.

What if they are on a gap year abroad?
This will not be a reason for exemption and those abroad will be expected to do their National Service alongside any travel.

Here, I'll add one of my own:
What if they're a dual citizen and can fuck off to a more sane country?

Possibly relevant to this other one:
Will the scheme apply in Northern Ireland?
Yes – although the Royal Commission will consider how to manage any sensitivities surrounding National Service.

(Sensitivities including "can claim an Irish passport and fuck off to one of dozens of more sane countries".)
posted by rory at 2:46 PM on May 27

If the next Techne weekly tracker poll doesn't show them down by at least five points a lot of grandparents will be off the Christmas card list.
posted by rory at 2:49 PM on May 27

(Just for the record, I know I'm wrong to hope that the National Service proposal will cost the Tories votes, as it'll no doubt claw them back some Reform votes. But if elderly voters steal their grandkids' first year of adulthood by somehow reinstalling the Tories over it, it won't just be the grandkids who take them off the Christmas card list.)
posted by rory at 3:27 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

Because we haven't had enough wealth transfer from the young to the old, the Tories are now promising to further strengthen the Triple Lock (already an upward ratchet for pensions compared to all other benefits) by effectively exempting the state pension from income tax.
posted by Dysk at 10:26 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

Have elderly voters really been clamoring for a return of national service?

When I first saw the headlines I didn't realize it was military service, of all things. (Are Tory voters expecting an attack??) I thought maybe they would be having everyone do community service at places like the NHS to make up for some of the workforces whose budgets they've cut, a tidy solution for all concerned.
posted by trig at 12:41 AM on May 28

I thought I'd just tot up UK voting age populations (approximately) by generation, for fun:
Gen Z (18-27) - 8.9m
Millennials (28-43) - 12m
Gen X (44-59) - 11.9m
Boomers (60-78) - 11.5m
post-war&WWII (79-102)- 3m

The tories basically get the bulk of their votes from genX upwards, though genX has tended to be the crossover point; they were split 50/50 for brexit, for example, with younger people more going for remain, and older increasingly going for leave. What's interesting is that genZ is finally coming of age in sufficient numbers (with millenials, and some gen X) to outvote the boomer, post-war and older genX cohorts that the tories have been targeting. With a number of the latter voters potentially staying home or voting Reform, if genZ and millennials can flex their numbers at the ballot box we could finally see a long-term shift in power so that people under 40 can actually demand a government that represents their interests, rather than the ongoing wealth transfer from young to old we've seen for at least the last 15 years.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 1:13 AM on May 28

Further to this, I've just commented on FB to a friend's scathing remarks about the National Service idea:

The entire idea is completely unfeasible. Even if. as is now being said, the military element is limited to 30,000 places a year (about 4% of 18 year olds) then that is still nearly three times the current annual recruitment. Depending on the extent to which that 30,000 absorbs the existing recruitment then the MOD will need to somewhere between triple and quadruple its training estate and staffing.

Furthermore, if - as is implied - that 30,000 is going to be selectively chosen from the annual National Service intake, then they are likely to be the most enthusiastic, motivated and able candidates. Many if not most aren't going to want to spend their year as an infantry soldier or stores clerk. They'll want to do something exciting, cool and with good future employment prospects. Ah, say the Tories, we'll train them on cyber security! Well, the RAF's training course for Cyberspace Communications Specialist is 10 months long, *after* basic training. So if National Service lasts a year, it's basically going to discharge people as soon as they've finished training.

In which case, don't bother with the military element and just fund 30,000 one-year cyber security apprenticeships.

But that won't win votes. (Not that the National Service idea will, but that's beside the point.)
posted by Major Clanger at 1:28 AM on May 28

Spectator: The Tories have become the party of the pensioner:
Rishi Sunak has kicked off the first full week of the campaign with a policy to further entrench the Tory support of better-off older people. Where once the triple lock was enough, now he has unveiled the ‘Triple Lock Plus’...

The triple lock has already fuelled intergenerational disparities. Now the average pensioner has more disposable income than the average worker. This move would only exacerbate this, with by the end of the decade pensioners being taken out of tax that low earners would still have to pay. Even among the old, the impact will disproportionately favour two-pensioner households who tend to be better off and more secure. Rather than say, raising pension credits, this is a universal bung which moves money away from workers towards richer retirees.

It also speaks of the political peril the Tories believe that they are in. The main winners of the last fourteen years have been richer pensioners. These cohorts have enjoyed the fruits of rising house prices combined with increasing pensions. Many will also have defined benefit pensions from work, which have protected them from inflation... The reason why the over-60s are the only demographic still supporting the Tories is partly because they have fared so well under them.

That the Conservatives feel the need to shore up the pensioner vote shows how close to wipeout the party feels. The party should barely have to try to win over richer pensioners, but instead, it has spent the first few days of the campaign focused on them. This feels like a party in panic, unable to rely on the votes of anyone, even its most obvious supporters.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:53 AM on May 28 [3 favorites]

Today's Tory line on Today was that they're going to get rid of university courses that don't lead to employment (but won't say what those are) and will introduce 100K new apprenticeships while Labour would halve them. The latter attack line is because Labour plans to change the funding for training to allow non-apprenticeship training to benefit as well.

Meanwhile, universities are in a bad way, with international student numbers down by a third from a year ago thanks to government immigration policies.
posted by rory at 1:49 AM on May 29

First poll results after the National Service policy was announced: Labour +3, Green +1, Reform -2, Cons -2.
posted by rory at 1:55 AM on May 29

The number of people starting apprenticeships has fallen 31 per cent in England since the apprenticeship levy was introduced [in 2017]. In fact there are now 160,000 fewer apprentice places a year than there were before the so called “reforms”.

It has been a long-running and silent disaster. If the scheme had worked or even stayed as it was there would be almost 1 million more highly trained staff in a country plagued by skill shortages.
Shame that the Tories didn't realise apprenticeships were a good idea during their 14 years in power.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:52 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]

rory: First poll results after the National Service policy was announced: Labour +3, Green +1, Reform -2, Cons -2.

You had me scared for a second, because I thought those were net favourability ratings or something like that.

Full results: Labour 47%, Conservative 20%, Lib Dem 9%, Reform 12%, Green 7%, SNP 3%.

Is there any sort of UK equivalent of that turns national polls into seat projections?
posted by clawsoon at 3:45 AM on May 29

Polling Report has Seat Projections from the latest polls. You can choose from one of several models. (IIRC polls are only from British Polling Council members, which have to stick to certain standards). Current default model gives:

LAB 388
CON 197
SNP 17
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:49 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]

You had me scared for a second, because I thought those were net favourability ratings or something like that.

Oh, sorry! Up three points from last time, etc. In other words, the NS announcement had the opposite effect to what the Tories hoped (though a breakdown by age might presumably show a little shoring up of their vote among the elderly base). I'm pleasantly surprised to see that it didn't let them claw a few points from Reform.

Fuller picture at Sky News.
posted by rory at 4:08 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]

Electoral Calculus does seat projections. It lets you plug in your own figures, too.

This projection might be too much to hope for, but it would be so glorious to have the Lib Dems become the Opposition. Imagine the impact on the Overton Window if national debate were between them and a Labour govenrment rather than Labour and a Tory one.

Make this the punishment election.
posted by rory at 4:26 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]

I read something hoping for a Canadian-Tories-in-1993 result, but it looks like that's too optimistic for even the most optimistic projection.
posted by clawsoon at 9:30 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]

"They're going to be absolutely annihilated, as they deserve to be." Carol Vorderman on tactical voting. "They know that they've lost. My mission is to absolutely eviscerate them. Not just that they lose, but that they can't even form the Opposition. And we can do it—it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
posted by rory at 11:36 AM on May 29 [1 favorite]

Eh, I'm still ignoring the polls. As we learned from the Brexit vote and the years afterwards, there are lots of shy Tories who will avoid pollsters and lie about their voting intentions. And many people sitting on the fence until the last minute, waiting for the excuse to vote Tory in the booth. They might be ashamed about their decision, but their votes will still be counted.

I'm also increasingly worried about the non-Tory vote being split. I hope there's a lot of tactical voting and Labour's mistakes don't fuck us up.
posted by fight or flight at 12:01 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]

David Gauke in the New Statesman: Brexit sealed the Tories’ fate.
The Conservatives have a view as to who they are speaking to but it is to the few not the many. He or she is more often than not a pensioner, left school at 16, is socially conservative and is quite possibly tempted to vote for Reform UK...

The consequence is a series of policies that resemble Daily Express editorials. They either look like simple electoral bribes (a higher personal allowance for pensioners) or self-parody (national service).

This does not mean that it is the wrong strategy to optimise the Conservatives’ performance in this election. The simplest way to narrow the poll gap with Labour – and avoid electoral annihilation – is to squeeze the Reform UK vote and to boost the enthusiasm of some of those “don’t knows” who look a lot like Tories...

...the voters to whom the Tories appeal are a diminishing part of the electorate. Conservative support among younger voters and graduates of all ages is pitiful. The policy announcements we have heard so far are only going to make this worse.

...the strategic decision taken by the Conservative Party after the Brexit referendum, particularly in 2019, was to commit itself to become the party almost exclusively of baby boomers with few educational qualifications. Given that choice, retreating from that strategy now risks short-term catastrophe, maintaining it ensures long-term oblivion. The Tories’ policy announcements expose the reality of a party that currently has no good choices available to it.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:03 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]

is quite possibly tempted to vote for Reform UK...

It's quite depressing that the Tories are chasing reform voters and Labour are chasing Tory voters.
No one is ever chasing left wing voters.

I'm probably wrong, but it feels like Labour could firm up their vote share quite a lot with even the hollowest gesture towards being even marginally socially or economically progressive. Obviously not enough to scare off the newspapers, or to do actually do anything, just the slightest indication that the left isn't completely taken for granted.

But they're a bit too busy accepting Natalie Elphicke in to the party whilst demonizing Diane Abbott.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:45 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]

No one is ever chasing left wing voters.

The Green are offering lots of progressive policies if you don't want to follow Labour to the centre.
posted by biffa at 3:50 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]

Techne's poll results for 29-20 May:

Lab: 45% (=)
Con: 21% (+2)
Reform: 12% (-2)
Lib Dem: 11% (-1)
Green: 6% (+1)
SNP: 2% (=)

Changes relative to 22-23 May.

Looks as if the National Service stuff last Sunday has indeed picked them up a couple of points. So, one of those announcements a week, a "bring back hanging" here, a "change Snickers back to Marathons" there, and who knows, they could get to 29% by the election.
posted by rory at 4:47 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]

The Green are offering lots of progressive policies if you don't want to follow Labour to the centre.

They are. And in each of the last three general elections, I've had to choose between voting Green, which is what I want to do, and trying to guess which out of Labour and the Lib Dems stands the better chance of unseating the Tory incumbent so I can cast my vote in that direction.

... And then, each time, I've seen the incumbent carry an absolute majority of the votes, making whatever time I've spent thinking about it just... time I could have spent doing something that made me less miserable.

Predictions suggest she'll keep her seat in July too, so I get to go through the whole thing again. It's probably fine for me to vote Green (along with a deposit-losingly tiny fraction of the constituency), and in any case, it's just one vote! But of course I'll feel terrible if I do that and she only gets in again because the left-of-Tory vote is split, and... in summary, I really, really hate FPTP.

I don't ever expect to end up with a government that reflects my values, and I can accept that, but I bitterly resent the fact that I can't even express them with my vote without having to agonise over it like this.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:18 AM on May 31 [5 favorites]

Marina Hyde has started a series of articles in the Guardian called Campaign Trail 2024. Here’s an excerpt from her piece on the Liberal Democrats:
Nine times out of 10 the Liberal Democrats’ campaign stunts are so on the nose that they are post-parody. Not that pundits and social media users don’t try. But you feel the Lib Dems would be perfectly within their rights to retort: “Yeah, but we’ve already DONE that gag, right? We booked the paddleboard. We took it to the creek. We made sure he was pictured without a paddle. Sorry, Madam Commentator, but you don’t get to make the joke and think you’re being funny. We own this thing from set-up to punchline. We ARE the joke.” And you know, you have to hand it to them.

Anyway: the Liberal Democrat campaign for the 2024 general election. Tuesday was paddleboard, Wednesday was bike, as Ed Davey cycled headlong down a steep hill right into his own Welsh campaign launch. See what I mean – he’s already done the joke. What do you want me to say? It’s downhill from here? Davey on the skids? Christ on a bike???

For the other parties, being in an election with Lib Dems is a bit like being in Hamlet with a drunk Teletubby playing one of the minor roles. They appear to have absolutely zero interest in the text, even less in serious performance, and their every antic is dedicated to chewing as much of the scenery as possible. Sometimes literally. At every stage, they would like the audience to be asking: “OMG where are they now? How ker-razy are they being now?”
posted by Kattullus at 5:33 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]

trying to guess which out of Labour and the Lib Dems stands the better chance of unseating the Tory incumbent so I can cast my vote in that direction.

That Carol Vorderman interview is worth a watch. She's part of The Movement Forward and StopTheTories.Vote, the tactical voting campaign aimed at giving us the tools that will let us do more than just guess.
posted by rory at 6:47 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]

FT: How British politics lost touch with reality:
The UK’s election campaign is part of a wider British disease: of politics detached from policy, of arguments about politics divorced from questions about whether you can even implement the proposals at the end of the day...

Part of the problem is how politics is covered. Starmer’s evasions on fiscal policy are treated as a natural, even savvy, outgrowth of long-standing voter anxieties about the party’s love of raising taxes and increasing spending. Sunak’s scattershot mix of policies designed to appeal to the nostalgic elderly are, again, treated not as a man saying things he visibly does not believe and could not implement even if he did, but a sensible attempt to save as many Tory MPs as possible by making promises he can’t keep.

One reason why the two major parties get away with it is that neither is well-placed to attack the other. It is easy to get lucid, believable and fair comment on the shortcomings of Conservative plans from Labour politicians, and of Labour schemes from Tory ones. But given that neither party is putting forward spending plans that look achievable over the course of the parliament, it is unsurprising that their attacks on one another are not landing. The UK’s electoral system, which punishes new entrants, also makes it much harder for the parties to be punished when they both take a holiday from reality at the same time.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:44 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]

Well it took like three business days, but here we are: the Tories are officially trying to make transphobia one of their key selling points. Can't wait for every cis dickhead with a particularly stupid toddler's understanding of gender to start loudly having opinions on who it what exactly people like me are, and exactly how few rights we ought to have.

And I don't remotely trust Labour not to just decide to try and outdo them on the bigotry, rather than offer an alternative.

...and yet, if I were to fill the basement of Westminster with gunpowder and blow the whole thing up, I would be the bad guy?!?
posted by Dysk at 11:40 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

Yes, it's really easy to imagine at least one of these 6 proposed Sunak v Starmer debates devolving into Sunak sneering about Starmer not knowing what a woman is, or similar.
posted by biffa at 4:26 AM on June 3

Poundland Enoch Powell, grifter, and Trump-enabler Farage is now the president of Reform, or whatever the gammon-KKK are calling themselves this time around. Despite saying a few days ago that he wouldn't stand in the election, he is now standing, in Clacton. This will be his eighth attempt at winning a seat in the UK parliament, failing in all the previous seven.
posted by Wordshore at 8:42 AM on June 3

Lining himself up for what comes after? Can Reform get enough votes that the Tories will be desperate to get the voters back? If Farage gets elected then joins up will they have anyone left who can stand up to him in a leadership election?
posted by biffa at 2:13 PM on June 3

...and yet, if I were to fill the basement of Westminster with gunpowder and blow the whole thing up, I would be the bad guy?!?

Wouldn’t that make you a good (or, at least, extremely on-brand) Guy?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:02 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]

Farage is just a grifter. He's in it for the money and attention, I don't think he actually wants power or to really work for a living. There's no more substance to his arguments than there is to the man himself. Him standing for election is a net positive as it will eat up the most gammony Tory voters, further split the right-wing vote and ultimately achieve nothing (except getting Farage the aforementioned money and attention).
posted by slimepuppy at 2:25 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

The article's not that good, but there was an interesting nugget in the Spectator today:
Whereas before it was theoretically possible for the Tories to win over these voters, Nigel Farage has now locked in that Reform vote. With current Reform voters he has a net positivity rating of +79. That is God-like. I’m not exaggerating: that is a higher rating than the King, and higher even than the late Queen had with the public...
So Farage is objectively a terrible, trivial figure who in no way deserves the masses of media attention he gets in relation to the Greens or Lib Dems.

But it does look like this is a serious problem for Rishi Sunak's "core vote" strategy of pinning everything on winning back Reform voters. They actually love this horrible little toad.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:13 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

Ah, Farage is back after the previous turd he left in the room has not quite dessicated I see? It seems he's smelling weakness in the Tories, but probably he's just catching the smell of his own shite.

What are the chances the Reform party can put forward enough candidates to split their share with The Conservative Party to the point they both catastrophically bury each other?
posted by lawrencium at 6:08 AM on June 4

There are some perks to Farage standing; it'll boost milkshake sales in the Clacton area ;-)
posted by amcewen at 9:11 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Twitter is pontificating that the milkshake thrower may be linked to Reform's press office.
posted by biffa at 1:17 PM on June 4

Anyone watching the first debate? Starmer pretty weak but difficult to hear Sunak over me shouting Cunt at the telly.
posted by biffa at 1:20 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]

"debate" is a very charitable way of characterising that utter shitshow. Starmer came across as a one-man circular firing squad. Sunak kept say "if I was your leader" without remembering that he is supposed to be our current (unelected) leader.
posted by Molesome at 1:56 AM on June 5

Yeah, it felt like Starmer hadn't done the prep and wasn't ready with good answers for the obvious things that came out. The format sucked though, the time limit basically answers had to be boiled down to two sentences, which isn't doable for any issue with any complexity.

Sunak was allowed to get away with talking over Starmer as soon as he got to his second sentence pretty much every time. There needed to be much more calling Sunak out for wanting to ignore the past then coming out with claims for things he thinks has done.
posted by biffa at 8:29 AM on June 5

Checking Wikipedia to see if a UK prime minister has ever resigned (or been removed by his party) during a general election campaign.

At what point would senior Tories say "shove deputy Oliver Dowden in for a few weeks and we may claw back 50 seats"?
posted by Wordshore at 9:46 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]

You'll notice the Tories sent out Penny Mordaunt this evening rather than the Deputy PM Oliver Dowden. Could this be because Dowden has all the political weight of a wet sock? He's in the job because he's a non-entity, a man shaped vacuum, with no ability to threaten Rishi. He's not going to win back shit.
posted by biffa at 1:37 PM on June 7

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