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By Jim Hancock

By Jim Hancock

Slow reply to Sunak zinger

Jim thinks Keir Starmer was slow off the mark in rebutting the Prime Minister's £2000 Labour tax rise claim. He also looks at the big constituency boundary shake up in Cheshire and Lancashire.

SHARPEN UP KEIR

The Prime Minister’s claim that Labour would raise people’s taxes by £2000 over four years is full of holes. But there are a number of questions arising from the assertion in Tuesday’s TV debate. Does it matter that it is wrong? Will it stick with voters and most of all, why did it take Sir Keir Starmer twenty five minutes to answer the charge?

The £2000 figure was clearly a cobbled up mixture of Treasury costed Labour promises and other stuff thrown in by Tory advisers. Civil servants hate being involved in these exercises which are always manipulated by politicians. It matters that a Treasury official has had to disclaim it. It matters that it has left politicians calling each other liars because that lowers their reputations if that is possible.

But will it stick in people’s minds? The absurd £350m for the NHS pledge in the Brexit Referendum did the business and I think this will help that age old concern that Labour will put up your taxes. That perception was helped by Starmer’s failure to immediately hit back.

I think Sunak won the debate 60-40. He was sharper, more alert and seems to be learning how to be a politician. Sir Keir looked bewildered at times. It is not a law court; you don’t have time to develop ponderous rebuttals. If Labour were caught by surprise on the £2000 charge, they shouldn’t have been. If they weren’t and knew about the Treasury rebuttal, then Starmer was shamefully slow in calling it nonsense. He should have been flourishing the Treasury letter. It makes great TV Keir!

Do I think it will change the course of the election? No. Labour is still on course for a majority, helped by the arrival of the Clacton Claxon.

ALL CHANGE

There is an unseemly race to get candidates in place by tonight’s deadline. The shoehorning of Party Chairman into Basildon (his Durham seat has been abolished) is the worst example. He was the only candidate offered to the local party. Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader would be familiar with the process.

Meanwhile we all have to get used to new boundaries in the North West. The biggest changes come in Lancashire and Cheshire.

In the Red Rose county, the retiring Defence Secretary Ben Wallace’s seat of Wyre and Preston North is split into five other seats. Fleetwood ends its ungainly link with Lancaster, joining Blackpool North. Lancaster rejoins Wyre. Clitheroe leaves the Ribble Valley to join Pendle.

Cheshire has major changes. The city of Chester is split up. The northern part lines up with Neston with the south teaming up with Eddisbury. A new seat of Mid Cheshire is created out of Eddisbury and Weaver Vale which disappears. Ellesmere Port takes Bromborough with Wirral South abolished. A new constituency of Runcorn and Helsby replaces Weaver Vale.

Merseyside sees little change of political consequence except Wirral West notionally turning Tory with the acquisition of parts of Wirral South.

In Greater Manchester the new seat of Heywood and Middleton North notionally turns the seat Labour from Conservative. Rusholme is back as a constituency made up of old central and Gorton wards. Bolton South East becomes Bolton South and Walkden.

WHAT IF D DAY HAD FAILED?

The celebration of the courage of the forces that stormed the Normandy beaches 80 years ago has rightly been celebrated on a grand scale. But I am fascinated by counter factual history. What if they had failed? Would the Americans have left to concentrate on Japan? Would the Russians have come to dominate the whole of Europe?

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