Comment Plus: pick of the papers

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

1. Breaking the electoral mould may not have a happy ending (Guardian)

The remarkable rise of the Lib Dems may not have a happy ending, writes Seumas Milne. It could lead to the elite stitch-up that is a national unity government.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

2. The Tories have a fortnight to save themselves from disaster (Daily Telegraph)

If David Cameron is not prime minister on or soon after May 7, the Tory party will turn on him, warns Benedict Brogan. To avoid this fate, Cameron must better explain to the public why a hung parliament would be a disaster.

3. Brown looks ever more like King Lear (Independent)

In tonight's debate the focus will be on Cameron and Clegg, but it is Brown who needs to give the performance of his life, says Steve Richards.Labour's shapeless campaign has led to an extraordinary shift against the party.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

4. A hung parliament would be a tragedy for Britain (Financial Times)

The uncertainty of a hung parliament would kill the economic recovery, warns Ken Clarke. A period of weak government would do nothing to improve the reputation of our political system.

5. The 'no win' nightmare (Sun)

Warming to the same theme, Trevor Kavanagh warns that a hung parliament would lead to economic disaster. Worse, by demanding Brown's head, Nick Clegg could leave the country with another unelected Labour prime minister.

6. Only the Lib Dems listen to Britain (Guardian)

But elsewhere, Nick Clegg says that only the Lib Dems can seize the opportunity for fundamental reform. Labour seems to have given up trying and the Tories only offer the illusion of change.

7. Our foreign aid target is absurd and outdated (Times)

The pledge by all three parties to raise aid spending to 0.7 per cent of GDP makes no sense, says Bronwen Maddox. It says nothing about how much aid the poorest really need and distracts attention away from the need for good government.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

8. 9½ vital questions for our would-be leaders on Britain's role in the world (Guardian)

With the one big exception of Europe, the foreign policy differences between the three parties are astonishingly small, writes Timothy Garton Ash. But all the leaders need to clarify what they think Britain's role in the world should be.

9. Let Letwin Be Letwin (Times)

Were Oliver Letwin to lose his seat to the Lib Dems he would be much missed, says a Times leader. It was he who provided the intellectual backbone to modern conservatism.

10. Fly less and we'll all be happier (Independent)

The next government must demonstrate how we can all fly less and stay competitive, says Peter Lockley.

 

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