CommentPlus: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. This election shouldn't be close. That it is shows up Cameron (Guardian)

That the Tories are still unsure of winning a majority is an indictment of David Cameron and his party, says Jonathan Freedland. Cameron's failure fundamentally to reform the Conservative Party has turned what should have been a stroll into a slog.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

2. Weak government may be our strongest option (Times)

Contrary to conventional wisdom, a hung parliament would be the best possible outcome, suggests Anatole Kaletsky. The toughest economic decisions would have the backing of the majority of voters.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

3. I'll put a wager on a Tory victory, despite the known unknowns (Independent)

The overhyped TV debates are unlikely to prove the making of Gordon Brown, writes John Rentoul. Thanks to the Tories' audacious tax-cut pledge, Cameron will enter Downing Street with a small majority.

4. Britain prepares to take the measure of its leaders (Financial Times)

But elsewhere, in the Financial Times, Simon Schama predicts that the televised debates will make a big impression on voters at a time of deep and unrelenting trouble for Britain.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

5. The only thing you won't hear in the next 30 days is the truth (Daily Telegraph)

All that is certain after the election is that we will be governed by a social-democratic government of some sort, writes Simon Heffer. The cosy consensus between the main parties leaves millions in effect disfranchised.

6. A political manoeuvre that allows president to take moral high ground (Independent)

Barack Obama's new Nuclear Posture Review is a political statement, not a military one, argues Rupert Cornwell.

7. Do you trust David Cameron? That's the question for voters (Times)

The result of this election will be determined ultimately by whether the public believes in Cameron, says Daniel Finkelstein.

8. The worst classroom bullies? Politicians (Daily Telegraph)

A combination of government meddling and poor parenting has left schoolchildren angrier than ever, and their teachers unable to cope, writes Francis Gilbert.

9. The UK must look beyond the crisis (Financial Times)

Labour and the Tories must look beyond the Budget deficit and display a coherent vision for a better life, says an editorial in the Financial Times.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

10. Liberal Democrats could be tainted by Tory association (Guardian)

The Lib Dems may long for a hung parliament, but association with David Cameron could prove the death of the party, says Polly Toynbee.

Sign up now to CommentPlus for the pick of the day's opinion, comment and analysis in your inbox at 8am, every weekday.

Getty
Show Hide image

Theresa May’s stage-managed election campaign keeps the public at bay

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach may be chaotic, but at least it’s more authentic.

The worst part about running an election campaign for a politician? Having to meet the general public. Those ordinary folk can be a tricky lot, with their lack of regard for being on-message, and their pesky real-life concerns.

But it looks like Theresa May has decided to avoid this inconvenience altogether during this snap general election campaign, as it turns out her visit to Leeds last night was so stage-managed that she barely had to face the public.

Accusations have been whizzing around online that at a campaign event at the Shine building in Leeds, the Prime Minister spoke to a room full of guests invited by the party, rather than local people or people who work in the building’s office space.

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope tweeted a picture of the room in which May was addressing her audience yesterday evening a little before 7pm. He pointed out that, being in Leeds, she was in “Labour territory”:

But a few locals who spied this picture online claimed that the audience did not look like who you’d expect to see congregated at Shine – a grade II-listed Victorian school that has been renovated into a community project housing office space and meeting rooms.

“Ask why she didn’t meet any of the people at the business who work in that beautiful building. Everyone there was an invite-only Tory,” tweeted Rik Kendell, a Leeds-based developer and designer who says he works in the Shine building. “She didn’t arrive until we’d all left for the day. Everyone in the building past 6pm was invite-only . . . They seemed to seek out the most clinical corner for their PR photos. Such a beautiful building to work in.”

Other tweeters also found the snapshot jarring:

Shine’s founders have pointed out that they didn’t host or invite Theresa May – rather the party hired out the space for a private event: “All visitors pay for meeting space in Shine and we do not seek out, bid for, or otherwise host any political parties,” wrote managing director Dawn O'Keefe. The guestlist was not down to Shine, but to the Tory party.

The audience consisted of journalists and around 150 Tory activists, according to the Guardian. This was instead of employees from the 16 offices housed in the building. I have asked the Conservative Party for clarification of who was in the audience and whether it was invite-only and am awaiting its response.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “hiding from the public”, and local Labour MP Richard Burgon commented that, “like a medieval monarch, she simply briefly relocated her travelling court of admirers to town and then moved on without so much as a nod to the people she considers to be her lowly subjects”.

But it doesn’t look like the Tories’ painstaking stage-management is a fool-proof plan. Having uniform audiences of the party faithful on the campaign trail seems to be confusing the Prime Minister somewhat. During a visit to a (rather sparsely populated) factory in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, yesterday, she appeared to forget where exactly on the campaign trail she was:

The management of Corbyn’s campaign has also resulted in gaffes – but for opposite reasons. A slightly more chaotic approach has led to him facing the wrong way, with his back to the cameras.

Corbyn’s blunder is born out of his instinct to address the crowd rather than the cameras – May’s problem is the other way round. Both, however, seem far more comfortable talking to the party faithful, even if they are venturing out of safe seat territory.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

0800 7318496