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By Ben Guerin
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Election Diaries Week 3: Off The Boil

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 we enter the final two weeks, there is a sense that the campaign has gone off the boil.

GIFs and emojis Diarists used to sum up how they're feeling about the election this week

“I chose that GIF because I think I’ve heard less about the election this week. I don’t know if I’m just tuned out to it. The Euros has started so don’t know if the news is just dominated by that?” – Andrew, Airdrie and Shotts

What’s cut through?

Not much! The diarists feel like they are seeing and hearing less from campaign. Unlike previous weeks where many diarists recalled ‘big stories’ such as Rishi Sunak leaving D-Day early and the national service policy, it has felt like a quiet news week.

Equally, many diarists are just paying less attention to the campaign. They feel that what they do hear isn’t what they’re looking for: often more ‘empty promises’, rather than authenticity.

A handful of diarists have heard about the gambling scandal within the Conservative Party. But given where the party were starting from, it hasn’t drastically altered perceptions.

What does this mean?

We’re seeing existing views and assumptions about parties and their leaders solidifying. Increasingly our diarists have said they’ve made up their mind about who they will be voting for (even if they’re not enthusiastic about their choice).

Importantly, this isn’t because they’ve heard enough in the last few weeks to make up their mind. Instead, the campaign so far has confirmed an existing perception that politics is adversarial, tit for tat and not in the interests of normal people. It leaves an uninspiring choice as all parties ‘are the same’. But ultimately, it’s time for change.

“[The thing that’s stood out to me is] Politicians behaving like junior school children, trying to out shout each other in debates” – Philip, Bolton West

“[The thing that’s stood out to me is] That our political system is broken.” – Mark, Airdrie and Shotts

“[I’ve gone] From undecided and hoping for a real choice to it’s become a Labour vote by default.” – Neil, Swindon South

“I wish the political parties would just stick to talking about themselves and their parties and what they have to offer, instead of trying to discredit the other parties.”- Natalie, Bolton West

The campaign has done little to shift views of the main parties and leaders

The sense that little has changed – at least for the two main parties – is illustrated by the words the diarists use to describe the parties now, compared to the beginning of the campaign.

Diarists are still holding out hope for the Labour Party. Although there is consensus that Keir Starmer has come across better and seems more genuine than Rishi Sunak, many feel they haven’t heard anything substantial from the party to convince them that they’re the right choice. Some Diarists are expressing frustration that Labour isn’t being bolder, with a real sense that particularly on issues such as the NHS there is a desire to see greater ambition rather than ‘more of the same’.

word clouds
"What word would you use to describe the Labour party"

“I wish Labour had come out and said, ‘look, let's be honest, we've got to change this, and said big, bold changes need to happen.” – Barry, Bolton West

Meanwhile, the Conservative Party haven’t managed to turn it around in the eyes of voters. Whilst some felt Rishi Sunak performed well at the first debate, a series of mis-steps such as leaving D-Day early, the national service policy and going without Sky TV have confirmed existing views. It’s seen as a party that’s out of ideas, scrabbling around unsuccessfully to convince people to vote for them. For the diarists, this means the perception has only shifted from one of desperation to distrust and disappointment.

Tory Word Clouds
"What one word would you use to describe the Tory Party?"

“My main agenda for this election wasn’t for the removal of our current Government. I almost feel sorry for them. But it’s just going from bad to worse with this gambling scandal. It’s just the pits isn’t it really.” – Tom, Bolton West

Reform UK have seen the largest shift in perception. Having started the campaign as ‘unknown quantity’, they are increasingly seen as a potential ‘alternative’ to the two main parties. Regardless of whether diarists agree with their politics (many don’t, even amongst this group of undecided 2019 Conservative voters), Nigel Farage entering the election and his subsequent media appearances have been some of the more remarked-upon moments of the campaign.

“I think Reform is becoming more popular or winning the debates. Or being voted highly. Reform seem to be doing well.” – Cameron, Wokingham

“I’m interested in most of the pledges made by Reform, particularly the ones on immigration and NHS funding. I understand Reform can’t win but they do have an outside chance of coming second. … It makes me lean that way. I do accept that Labour will win, but I don’t want to vote for them. I can’t vote Conservatives. They have just proven them to be untrustworthy over and over again” – Glen, Nuneaton

Reform word cloud
"What one word would you use to describe Reform UK?"

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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