During the 2015 General Election campaign my colleague, Nick Laitner, blogged on the concept of a bolicy. That is, a policy proposal floated by a political party that is in fact bxllocks, intended to win headlines rather than ever achieve implementation. Think marching inebriated teenagers to cash machines to pay on the spot fines for anti-social behaviour, as proposed by Tony Blair at the height of his popularity circa 2000 and quietly withdrawn after one of his own offspring celebrated the completion of his GCSEs in the usual manner.
In the 2017 General Election, our new word of the campaign is banalysis – that is, analysis so unthinking as to be entirely banal.
Given the apparent certainly of a May victory in June, the media seem to struggle what to make of Theresa May. She is at once a crazed right winger salivating at the prospect of dismantling the state and also, apparently, the most left wing Conservative in 40 years.
At least one of these banalyses is incorrect.
Perhaps the most obvious banalysis, but one that is trotted out with tedious regularity is that Theresa May is the new Margaret Thatcher. Granted both are females who became Prime Minister, but then Gordon Brown and Winston Churchill were male Prime Ministers.
And of course, for every commentator for whom May is the new Thatcher, there will be another that proclaims her a ‘Red Tory’.
This confusion quite suits May. The reality is that the manifesto published this morning provides plenty of ‘evidence’ that she has pitched right (controls on immigration, the repetition that no deal with the EU is better than no deal); left (greater intervention in businesses that are already struggling to come to terms with implications of Brexit); and firmly in the centre, with the commitment to increased investment in the NHS.
In her apparent exasperation, the Prime Minister declared that there is ‘no such thing as May-ism’, no doubt being aware that the apparent lack of ideology combined with an air of quiet competence is what the public reportedly like about her.
Another aspect the Conservative manifesto is that the proposals contained within them are interpreted as if they are already Government policy.
This is unsurprising given the consistent poll leads enjoyed by the Conservatives. But it’s been twelve years since we have been at this point of an election campaign effectively knowing with certainty who the victor will be.
One thing we can be sure of is that the Conservatives have not proposed policies – or bolicies – in the 2017 manifesto hoping that some will have to be dropped if they go into Coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Today’s Ipsos poll suggests that the Lib Dems have slumped 6 points to 7% following the publication of their manifesto yesterday.
The other striking finding in today’s Ipsos poll is that Labour have leapt 6 points to 34%, but are still trailing the Conservatives by 15 points.
Expect plenty of banalysis on the popularity of Corbyn’s hard left manifesto in tomorrow’s press.