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By Jo Phillips

By Jo Phillips

Scraps from the white noise

Jo reflects on the election campaign so far and what the next government will need to do to restore the confidence of the public.

Almost halfway through this election campaign and what have we learned so far?

  • Neither Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer are likely to follow Ed Balls or Michael Portillo into post politics television careers. Both Starmer and Sunak are wooden, don’t listen and talk over other people. They could learn from Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth and the SNP’s Stephen Flynn – both articulate and engaging speakers who came across on TV as actual humans, as did Carla Denyer of the Green party.
  • TV debates are awful.
  • Nigel Farage says people shouting at him in the street is a “threat to democracy” but is apparently happy to attend a fund-raising event in London for Donald Trump, a convicted felon and a man who not only rejected the democratic result of the US election but encouraged his supporters to riot.
  • The Tories blame Covid for a lot that’s happened to the economy but every time they mention the pandemic it reminds people of Partygate and Johnson’s lies.
  • Ed Davey’s often daft stunts have got the Lib Dems a lot of coverage, shown that he has a better selection of wet weather gear than Sunak but, more importantly they’re the only party talking about social care and clean water.
  • The Tory manifesto seems to be a rehash of the last one and as, Frank writes in his blog, at least some in the party are waving a white flag but is now using scare tactics about a one-party socialist state to try and minimise a total wipeout.
  • Labour is terrified of talking about tax yet incapable of steering that debate into one of honesty about what they would prioritise for spending, why council tax needs reform which obviously might mean some increases and they’re failing to hammer home the flagrant waste of public money under the Tories.
  • No one’s seen or heard anything from Boris Johnson. Or Liz Truss.

No one’s talking about Brexit but according to the British Social Attitudes Survey published this week, the popularity of Brexit has plummeted with 71% believing the economy was worse off as a result of leaving the EU, up from 51% in 2019 and less than a quarter of respondents said they thought Britain should be outside the EU, down from 36% in 2019.  The same survey also shows that public trust in politics and politicians is at its lowest for half a century. As Professor Sir John Curtice said: The next government will not simply face the challenge of reviving Britain’s stuttering economy and its struggling public services. It will also need to address the concerns of a public that is as doubtful as it has ever been about the trustworthiness and efficacy of the country’s system of government.”  While policies and the direction of a new government may help, Professor Curtice says “… it is likely to require much more than that – in particular, a style and manner of governing that persuades people that the government has their interests at heart after all.”

We know that nothing much will change if the predictions are right and Keir Starmer is Prime Minister in three weeks because sorting out the mess of the last 14 years will take a long time. However, a government founded in honesty, accountability and transparency will go a long way to restoring trust, healing some of the division and rancour whipped up by a partisan press and if there is a healthy opposition from a range of parties, thoughtfulness in place of stridency we could be on a better path.

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