Phoney campaign’s fish fingers and frustration
FED UP yet? It might be called a “snap” general election but, if the first 10 days of this campaign are anything to go by, the next few weeks could be short on action.
For all the talk of being electionready, plenty of constituency parties on all sides of the political spectrum were caught out by Theresa May, meaning thousands of parliamentary candidates are yet to be selected.
The subsequent lack of campaigning activity in constituencies has left politicians, the media and to a lesser extent voters, frustrated and turning their attention to trivial matters such as Ukip leader Paul Nuttall locking himself in a room, celebrity endorsements and a fish finger taking on Tim Farron.
Mrs May has rarely been seen. Occasional speeches and photo opportunities have not been followed by journalists’ questions, rendering it almost impossible to hold the Prime Minister to account.
Aside from her campaign trail debut last week in Bolton, where she was photographed shaking hands with Rabbi Arnold Saunders, a Tory councillor, there has been little to pique the interest.
The Tory strategy is clear: give Jeremy Corbyn plenty of air time and leave voters to make up their own minds. Indeed, Mr Corbyn’s interview with Andrew Marr last Sunday was not what you would call a success.
In 23 minutes, the Labour leader suggested he would not defend Britain against nuclear attack, would not sanction drone strikes on Daesh leaders and could cancel air strikes in Syria.
Mrs May is due to have her turn on Mr Marr’s sofa this weekend and can hardly fare worse.
With large swathes of the Jewish community — anecdotally at least — having made their minds up on how they will vote, and with so little serious debate taking place, we find ourselves in a phoney campaign, awaiting the real action.
Only two months ago, I wrote in this column about the philosemitic qualities of Sir Eric Pickles, one of Israel’s strongest advocates in Parliament.
The news he will not stand for election in June is disappointing and softened only by the likelihood of his re-emergence in the Lords in the months to come.
Likewise, the departure of Labour’s Michael Dugher, another Yorkshireman unafraid to speak his mind and defend Israel, is another blow.
These two cheerful chaps could be the tip of the iceberg. After June 8, the community is likely to be less well-supported on all sides of the Commons — a reason for concern regardless of your political colours.
Theresa May with Rabbi Arnold Saunders