"We're for the compulsory serving of asparagus at breakfast..."*

Updated: Nov 25, 2019

Welcome to another weekly update from Number Ten Campaign Central. So the election campaign is well and truly underway, with all the major parties having now published their manifestos...

*" corsets for the under-5s and the abolition of slavery". So ran the manifesto of the "Standing At The Back Dressed Stupidly And Looking Stupid Party" from the opening episode of "Blackadder The Third". Despite their popular stance on asparagus they did not win the election.

First out of the blocks on Wednesday were the Liberal Democrats, promising amongst other things the legalisation of cannabis (Elon Musk, before you build that Berlin factory, take note!) and a £50bn "Remain bonanza" from cancelling Brexit. Next up, Labour's "manifesto to knock your socks off" arrived on Friday, complete with spending plans totalling an extra £83bn a year (according to the IFS) with a massive programme of house-building and nationalisation; to its supporters a bold vision of a reshaped Britain, to its detractors an unaffordable return to the big state of the 1970s. Also on Friday the Brexit Party tried to arrest its slide in the polls with what Nigel Farage termed not a manifesto but a "contract"; the slim 22-page document is light on detail but curiously echoes Labour's already much-ridiculed suggestion of free broadband in the regions.

The Conservatives completed the picture this morning, although at 59 pages their manifesto is also on the light side; it's clear Boris Johnson and his team are determined to avoid the calamity that befell Theresa May in 2017. Starting the campaign with a huge 22-point lead, May's manifesto was widely criticised for its negativity, an apparent attempt at brutal honesty backfiring spectacularly.

Is Johnson's approach right? If the polls are to be believed, this is indeed his election to lose, with poll leads as high as 17 points. The less ammunition he can provide to his opponents, the better. Johnson's determination to reduce the argument until it bleeds is clear; expect to hear the phrases "Get Brexit Done!", "Dither and Delay" and the deliciously-sounding "Oven-Ready Brexit" many more times in the remaining weeks. Clearly he believes the British people see this as the Brexit Election, all other issues paling beside the one which has dominated our politics this last few years. In that view he may well be right.

On that point, I'll stick my neck out and make a prediction on the eventual result. While I don't see Conservatives winning with quite the margin some polls are predicting, I estimate them being clear of Labour in second by a good 10-12% giving them 340 seats and a workable majority of 30. The polls will have to move dramatically to give Jeremy Corbyn a chance of becoming PM with an outright win. I'll cover Corbyn and Labour in more detail in my next blog.

On the app front, this week sees the official start of Full Time Development, with my last day in my current role being Thursday. I'm still both excited and scared, but can't wait to get going. It's finally happening!

take care and speak soon


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