David Cameron’s“One Nation 2020 Vision” for Black, Minority and Ethnic (BME) candidates has been abandoned. Only five ethnic minority candidates have been chosen for the prime 100 target seats. In 2015 Cameron wanted 20% BME Conservative candidates in retirement seats at the 2020 general election. In the 2015 election, the Conservative Party fielded the highest number of BME candidates ever in its history: 56 BME candidates in England and Wales, including 11 standing for re-election.In 2017 Tories take a backwards step, with just 14 new BME candidates: six of Indian origin (five un-winnables and Paul Uppal is expected to be re-elected), three Pakistanis and two Chineseall in un-winnable seats, plus two new black candidates in winnable seats. It is interesting to note there is not one Bangladeshi, although two perfectly qualified and dedicated female Bangladeshi approved candidates were available, thisinspite of UK having a large Bangladeshi population of 600,000+. One exasperated Tory unselected candidate tweeted “vote 4 candidate who represents and engages with you & your community on 8/6. Don’t follow partyslogans as they mean zero”. It seems doubtful the 2017 centralised process is backing BME candidacies as the selected candidates do not proportionally reflect the diversity in their constituencies. Unselected BME candidates have pleaded with CCHQ only to be confronted with a stonewall. In the past, the Conservatives have never promoted so many special advisors (many Remain friendly) or women (30%) with so little relevant experience, if and when elected Theresa May will have a ready-made and willing lobby team.
Excellent and eminently suitable MEPs have also been overlooked without explanation, notably Dan Hannan, Syed Kamall and David Campbell Bannerman, coincidentally (or not) all in favour of leaving the EU. Tories are only putting candidates in seven constituencies out of 18 in Northern Ireland, nine down from 2015—this may suggest an unspoken pact with the Democratic Unionist Party.
Polls have suggested it is May herself who is enjoying the popularity. The campaign is only about Theresa May and her Team; Theresa May speaks to her Team in front of a “Team Theresa May” backdrop, with what looks like a stage managed balanced representation of MPs behind her. One candidate even says she is Theresa May’s candidate not a Conservative candidate. May’s Team plans to drive a stake through Labour’s majorities. The IMC poll puts Conservatives on 49%, and Labour on 27%, with UKIP in continued decline at only 6%. As this election is mostly about giving the Prime Minister a strong arm to negotiate Brexit with Brussels, it is interesting that Tories lead with both Remainers and Leavers.
Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek Finance Minister, published an open letter to May in the Evening Standard, newly edited by George Osborne, former Chancellor. Speaking from bitter experience Varoufakis advises that thehostile Brussels establishment will preserve its own authority even at the cost of its 27 member states social economies. They are determined for a disadvantageous outcome for the UK; he outlines two strategies for May to avoid this, in a nutshell:
1. A softerBrexit with a Norway-like agreement for the term of the next Parliament while further agreements are negotiated out of the limelight and absolving Merkel of the “hot potato”.
2. To legislate and withdraw from all negotiations and wait for Brussels to come up with a realistic and practical offer.
Chiming with Varoufakis’ first option David Cameron made his first intervention in the campaign urging voters to give May the biggest possible majority so she can take on Eurosceptics and avoid an “extreme Brexit” in this most defining election, he said Jeremy Corbyn was completely unsuited to be Prime Minister.
The Liberal Democrats say Jeremy Corbyn is toxic but their MPs have been caught advising members to collaborate with Labour. Jeremy Corbyn has announced he will continue as leader even if he loses the election. He has repetitively refused to say that Britain will leave the EU if he is elected. Embarrassingly Labour’s draft manifesto prematurely found its way to the BBC and various newspapers. It has been named daft not draft, 50 pages of socialist aims to increase tax for the rich and ambitions for nationalisation of railways, electricity distribution and the transmission grid; many promises of spending are made that would indeed improve the lives of many but how it is all paid for does not stack up because it is barely explained, according to experts. This leak is detrimental to Labour’s already shambolic image; they cannot unify the party and cannot keep their own secrets. Also, Corbyn’s car accidentally running over a BBC cameraman’s foot gives a damaging impression of complete chaos. To contrast with Labour’s anti-NATO and anti-war with IS ideas, Michael Fallon, Defense Minister, wrote an op-ed in the Daily Mail entitled “You can’t take tea with terrorists” in which he demolished Corbyn’s idealistic idea of peace talks with a murderous terrorist organisation.
Many breathed a sigh of relief when The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute the MPs under examination for 2015 election expenses. Nick Vamos, CPS Head of Special Crime said “Although there is evidence to suggest the returns may have been inaccurate, there is insufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest… Therefore we have concluded it is not in the public interest to charge anyone referred to us with this offence.”
The totally secret Tory manifesto is expected next week. This is controlled by No10; certainties expected are an energy price cap, a renewed immigration pledge of only 100,000 per annum and reluctantly no rises in income tax or National Health Contributions. There are murmurs that Philip Hammond’s input is at odds with May’s eminence grise (or eminence autocrat as he is so feared) Nick Timothy, who shares May’s aim of elevating the living standard for the working class. Amber Rudd, the Home secretary, told the BBC that UK based business will be pushed to train and employ more British workers. Theresa May has declined to debate Corbyn on television but she and her husband Philip May appeared jointly on BBC’s The One Show. It was revealed May had early ambitions to be Prime Minister whilst still in the Cabinet and the couple demonstrated a strong and stable marriage of 37 years.