at 2.05am EDT
The Snap: your election briefing
Welcome back as we hit the “really – there’s still three weeks until polling day?” mark. I’m Claire Phipps with the morning roundup and the early news; Andrew Sparrow will be along later. Join us in the comments below or on Twitter @Claire_Phipps.
It’s here: the day when Team Theresa May, the party formerly known as the Conservatives, tells us some actual policies. Hack through the knotweed of strong and stables, and coalitions of chaos, into a clearing where hitherto elusive details of tax and social care and migration might be spotted, along with a beleaguered fox.
What do we know? Having studiously pretended that they just weren’t into the commitment thing, the Tories have at the last moment plighted their troth. We have numbers, some of them with £ signs attached. Elderly people can have £100,000 in assets (up from £23,250) before they’ll be asked to pay for social care, but they will be asked to pay whether in their own home or elsewhere. There’ll be no cap on costs, but a promise that nobody will have to sell their home for care while they’re alive – which translates to a bill once they’re not. Of course, as Labour’s Andy Burnham was not the first or last to point out, this used to be snarled at by some as a “death tax”. But that was back in the days when caps on energy bills were “Marxist” and not official Conservative policy.
But here’s the nitty-gritty. Winter fuel payments for pensioners will be means-tested. The pensions triple lock will be undone. Charges for firms employing foreign workers, and for overseas visitors using the NHS, will be upped. There’ll be no such thing as a free school lunch but there will be free breakfasts for all primary pupils, a saving the Tories claim will boost schools funding by £4bn by 2022. The Sun, lauding the PM as a “consumer champion”, says a “trains ombudsman will be created to stand up for furious passengers”, presumably because there are no seats.
In the still don’t know column sits anything firm on tax, and what Brexit means.
But watch out for the third rolling-out of the policy – perhaps more of a vague wish this time – to cut net migration to the tens of thousands. An editorial in George Osborne’s Evening Standard yesterday claimed none of the cabinet were behind the quixotic pledge:
All would be glad to see the back of something that has caused the Conservative party such public grief.
Could there be a better segue into Boris Johnson’s latest adventure? The foreign secretary has apologised after using a rare day release to the campaign trail, to a Sikh gurdwara in Bristol, to plug one of his favourite topics: don’t worry about Brexit – we can sell a load of whisky to India!
Drinking alcohol is forbidden in some Sikh teachings, and the Sikh Federation pointed out that those who have taken intoxicants are not supposed to enter a temple. Johnson’s aides said “there was no gaffe”, but Johnson’s aides’ gaffe tolerance levels might by now be calibrated differently to most.
No real missteps in the ITV Wales leaders’ debate, which centred on Brexit: Ukip’s Neil Hamilton wants a “clean Brexit”, while Labour’s Carwyn Jones wants a “sensible” one. Lib Dem Mark Williams warned it could be “disastrous” for Wales, and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said Wales has been ignored (although the country did vote for Brexit and that’s certainly been clocked).
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said “strong and stable” and “coalition of chaos” and occasionally some other words.
Tonight it’s the full-blown ITV leaders’ debate, minus May and Jeremy Corbyn, who’ll send spin doctors instead to pick holes in the arguments they won’t be making.
It does mean we’ll hear more of what the other parties are proposing: you can get up to speed on the Lib Dem manifesto – and its commitment to raise £1bn by legalising cannabis – here; the sums are here.
At a glance:
- Labour’s Rhodri Morgan, ‘father of Welsh devolution’, dies at 77.
- Labour suspends Aberdeen councillors over coalition with Tories.
- Inquiry launched into targeting of UK voters through social media.
- Guardian view on the Lib Dem manifesto: unlikely to get the vote out.
A fresh YouGov poll for the Times dunks the Tories down a point to 45%, with Labour up two to 32%. And a curious GFK poll for Business Insider pronounces Corbyn a “bigger vote-winner than Tony Blair”, with 31% saying they “would consider voting Labour” under its current leadership, against 23% who might give it a whirl should Toxic Tony magically spirit himself back into contention, a proposal that not even the most devout Blairite (yes, they still walk among us) is offering. Springtime 1997 Blair was, if memory serves, scoring a tad higher.
Against other, actual party leaders, Corbyn fares worse, with a net approval rating of -30 versus May’s +16. Paul Nuttall (-28), Nicola Sturgeon (-23) and Tim Farron (-11) also get the thumbs down.
- At 9.30am Ukip shows off its energy policy; that’s in London.
- The main event is at 11.15am, with the Conservative manifesto launch in West Yorkshire.
- Then this evening it’s the ITV leaders’ debate minus the two prime ministerial candidates, at 8pm in Salford. Expect to see Nicola Sturgeon, Tim Farron, Caroline Lucas, Paul Nuttall and Leanne Wood.
BuzzFeed analysis by Tom Phillips and Jim Waterson reveals rather different travel tactics by the two party leaders:
Jeremy Corbyn has visited only two seats so far where Labour is defending a small majority in the election campaign … The leader has visited none of the party’s 40 most vulnerable seats, and just two – Southampton Test and York Central – of the 100 most at risk. Instead, Corbyn has spent the vast majority of his campaign in either safe Labour constituencies or Conservative-held marginals, the analysis shows …
Theresa May, meanwhile, has largely focused her visits to Conservative-held seats with relatively low majorities, which have the potential to be losses. She’s been to seven seats that fall within the Conservatives’ 100 most vulnerable, versus just three that lie outside it. Of those three, one was her own safe seat of Maidenhead.
Anne Perkins, in the Guardian, says the Lib Dem pitch as the party of the 48% is flailing:
The trouble is that the remain vote has turned out to be much flakier than it felt last June, or even at the time of the Richmond byelection … The wound is healing. Unsurprisingly, this is not turning out well for the party. Instead of the usual election pattern of the Lib Dems picking up support as their name recognition and familiarity grows, this time it seems to be leaking away. Outside London and the south-east of England, campaigners are barely fighting on the national platform at all. They are fighting old-fashioned local campaigns about schools and hospitals.
Revelation of the day
Nigel Farage just can’t seem to stop those darned gun metaphors toppling out of his mouth. After sparking upset last year – barely a week after the murder of Jo Cox – with his claim that the vote to leave the EU had been won “without a single bullet being fired”, he took the opportunity this week to warn that if Brexit didn’t mean proper, full-on, Ukippy Brexit:
I will be forced to don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines.
Farage’s spokesman told the Mirror: “It was a metaphor. Get a life.”
The day in a tweet
And another thing
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