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Thu, 18 July 2024

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By Ben Guerin
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Election Diaries Week 2: From Disbelief To Ennui

5 min read

PoliticsHome / The House in partnership with Thinks Insight & Strategy will be tracking reactions from swing voters in five key battlegrounds throughout the general election campaign.

Find out more here.

As the campaign reaches the halfway point, the mood amongst the diarists traverse a narrow range – from dismissal and disbelief to apathy and ennui:

Week 2
GIFs and Emojis used by our diarists to sum up their election feelings this week

“I’m fed up of it already and my head is going round in circles. And there’s still 3 weeks to go.” – Glen, Nuneaton

Many of the diarists feel it has been a quiet week for the campaign. There’s a sense of ‘information overload’ but very little feels substantial.

Despite being a ‘last week’ story for election obsessives, Rishi Sunak’s early departure from the D-Day commemorations trickled through into diarists’ consciousness over the weekend and into Monday.

The main takeaway from the manifestos is that the Conservative Party will make a further cut to National Insurance. Beyond that very little from the other parties registered with diarists. 

Rishi Sunak ‘having to go without Sky TV’ filtered through to social media and was recalled by many diarists. More on what they think about it below!

“I’ve seen a few things about Sky TV but I’ve not seen what it has come from. […] I’ve just researched it and it’s his way of trying to make people think he’s a man of the people.” – Daniel, Nuneaton

What’s changed? For most of the diarists, not much! But that is bad news for the Conservatives, and good news for Labour.

By all accounts, the Conservative Party – and Rishi Sunak in particular – has had a bad week. Rishi Sunak’s early departure from D-Day events was noticed by a good few diarists. Regarded as disrespectful by some, for most it just reaffirmed the feeling that the Conservatives are making mistakes and bungling the campaign. 

Saying that he ‘went without Sky TV’ played into existing perceptions that the Prime Minister is out of touch. His background doesn’t rule him out, but it does mean voters question whether he ‘gets it’ (and hyper vigilant to indications that he doesn’t).

“I’m on holiday in a villa with friends and we all feel the same: we need someone to represent and be in touch with our kind of people, not someone who has never had to struggle.”Jamie, Swindon South

More ominously, some diarists are starting to feel the Conservatives have given up. They thought Rishi Sunak seemed defeated during the Sky Leaders Special and the party doesn’t seem to be fighting for their vote.

“One person thinks that Tories are trying to throw the election as they have run out of ideas after being in power for 14 years and Rishi will resign straightaway and go to California!”Rachel, Nuneaton

“You've been waiting for the Conservative Party to actually do something to come up with some sort of interesting idea. Their manifesto was really dull. You keep thinking they're going to kick up from first gear. If anything, they've hit it into reverse and they backed the car back into the garage and they've turned the shutters off.  Apart from Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, there doesn't seem to be any Tories left out there. They've all seemed to have gone into hiding."Neil, Swindon South

Those that are more engaged with the campaign felt the Labour Party and Keir Starmer have had good week. This group of diarists noticed a shift from Labour ‘attacking the Conservatives’ to instead saying what they would do in Government. Policies about recruiting teachers and tackling anti-social behaviour are welcome (albeit unsurprising).

Labour’s manifesto was interpreted as a ‘non event’, with most diarists repeating the dominant press coverage which focussed on the lack of ‘new news’.

“Obviously the Labour manifesto didn't really surprise me. It was a pretty safe kind of manifesto, I felt like. So it hasn't really moved me in any direction.” - Fred, Wokingham

Interestingly, when we sent a few diarists the list of policies to look at, it seems that few of these had actually been communicated effectively to diarists.

“Wow I just read the above and sounds soo good on paper. The free school breakfast club that’s a big bonus for working parents.”Michelle, Swindon South

Overall, there’s a sense of inevitability around a Labour victory, even if this comes with little enthusiasm.  Whilst their victory is increasingly seen as certain, diarists do not feel confident they will deliver the change that is promised.

“We all know Labour is going to win. They’re too scared to say anything in case they put their foot in it. You can’t get away from it on the news, but friends, family and colleagues and no one is talking about it. There’s a lot of apathy and apathy is going to lead to a Labour government. That’s just how it’s going to be.”Richard, Swindon South

Whether because of this sense of inevitability or because of increased coverage, there seem to be more mentions of ‘other parties’ in diarists’ messages and voice notes this week. Often, there is little differentiation, with voters talking about ‘the Lib Dems or Reform’ as a pair. The sense is that these relatively disengaged voters are seeking out some alternative to (what they perceive as) an otherwise uninspiring choice:

“Have known nothing else other than Labour or Conservative and both have managed to screw the country up, think it’s time for a change. Both Labour and Conservative seem to be more interested in discrediting each other than putting the ordinary people first, Lib Dems and Reform seem to be more in line with my thoughts and feelings at present.”Philip, Bolton West

By Ben Shimshon, CEO and Allie Jennings, Associate Director, Thinks Insight & Strategy

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Read the most recent article written by Ben Shimshon and Allie Jennings - Election Diaries Week 3 - Focus On Swindon South

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