Welcome back to the campaign live blog, with more 2017 manifestos than anyone had budgeted for. I’m Claire Phipps with the morning briefing and the early news; Andrew Sparrow will be along later. Do join us in the comments below or find me on Twitter @Claire_Phipps.
It’s the turn of the Lib Dems to take a twirl in the glare of the headline writers, as they launch their manifesto. We know their main pitch, of course – Brexit means let’s have another think about Brexit – but the fresh push today will be to hook younger voters. There’s a “rent-to-buy” scheme for first-time homeowners, along with votes at 16, the return of housing benefit for 18- to 21-year-olds, and discounted bus travel. Plus there’s £7bn for schools and colleges; a tripling of the pupil premium for early years; and free primary school meals. On the costings side – because surely it’s not only Labour that has to show its workings? – they’ll put a penny on income tax to fund the NHS and social care.
Will it be enough to catapult the Lib Dems up the polls (they’re currently beached at around the 10% mark nationally) and back into those yellow-turned-blue seats in England’s south-west? Tim Farron, despairing of what he calls a post-Brexit “cold, mean-spirited Britain” under the Conservatives, says it’s time to hecking well galvanise:
We are in the last-chance saloon. This is the opportunity for everyone in this country to bang their fists on the table … It won’t be very many years before we look back on this era and think: ‘What the heck were we playing at?’
Plenty of fist-banging elsewhere as Labour’s ruby Tuesday gets a predictable bashing in much of the press today. Both the Daily Mail and the Telegraph label the little red manifesto a scheme to “bankrupt Britain”, and the Sun curses the “Marxist masterplan”. With enemies like these, who needs friends? Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, typically tagged as Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest ally, has said Labour won’t win on 8 June (you can read the full interview in Politico here):
I don’t see Labour winning. I think it would be extraordinary … I believe that if Labour can hold on to 200 seats or so it will be a successful campaign. It will mean that Theresa May will have had an election, will have increased her majority but not dramatically.
(Two hundred seats would be Labour’s lowest haul since 154 in 1935. What happened to “back to the 70s”?)
Of course, none of this tells you what the manifesto says. This does, though; and here’s how Labour says it’ll pay for it all: £48.6bn of spending and £48.6bn in new taxes. Renationalising mail, rail, water and energy isn’t in that bit because, Labour implies, it’ll come from capital borrowing via the £250bn infrastructure investment. Or because, the Tories say rather more explicitly, there’s a “black hole” in the sums.
Certainly a bit grey is the question of whether Labour would end the freeze on working-age benefits. At the manifesto launch, Corbyn was very clear that it would:
Clearly we are not going to freeze benefits, that is very clear.
But the manifesto was not very clear either way. Then Corbyn made it clear that the party had “not made a commitment on that”. But then a party spokesman issued a clear clarification that it had:
As Jeremy Corbyn made clear today, that will mean an end to the freeze.
And then the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, cleared things up by saying that, actually, it might not:
I don’t think we can reverse it entirely. We shouldn’t be promising things we can’t afford.
In conclusion: ¯_(ツ)_/¯
The Conservatives mostly spent the day lobbing sticks at Labour. But even Team Theresa May will have to show us a manifesto at some point: perhaps as soon as tomorrow.
At a glance:
A dent in Farron’s day, with a new Kantar poll showing the Lib Dems slipping three points in a week to 8%; the spoils go to the Conservatives (+3 to 47%). Labour is up by one, to 29%, but still with 18 points to claw back from the leaders.
Panelbase offered cheerier news for Corbyn, with a campaign high of 33%, against the Tories’ 47%, and the Lib Dems on a limp 7%.
Where does that leave the parties overall? With the Conservatives on a strong and stable 48%; Labour perking up a little to 31%; and the Lib Dems (9%), Ukip (5%) and Greens (2%) nuzzling the bottom of the chart.
- John McDonnell is campaigning in the East Midlands.
- There’ll be a press conference with Theresa May in London.
- Nicola Sturgeon campaigns in Edinburgh this morning; Ruth Davidson is in East Renfrewshire; and Lib Dem candidate Jo Swinson in Glasgow. Kezia Dugdale is also in Glasgow for a speech on Labour’s Scotland agenda.
- SDLP leader Colum Eastwood kicks off his party’s Westminster campaign at lunchtime.
- The home secretary, Amber Rudd, addresses the Police Federation conference.
- The formal launch of that Liberal Democrat manifesto comes this evening.
- At 8pm, it’s the ITV Wales leaders’ debate, with Labour’s Carwyn Jones, Conservative Andrew RT Davies, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Mark Williams for the Lib Dems, and Ukip’s Neil Hamilton.
Anoosh Chakelian, in the New Statesman, assesses Momentum’s momentum within the Labour campaign:
A source in a highly marginal Labour-held seat where membership has doubled since Corbyn’s election has seen the new supporters coming out door-knocking, and say it’s ‘unfair’ to characterise them as ‘armchair generals’. But they do note that turnout has not been proportional to the huge increase in Labour’s support base. ‘The activism has not ticked up in the way that you would expect given the massive growth of membership,’ they tell me. ‘The idea was we’ve got all these new activists and this is going to make a substantial difference to the ground game – it’s not.’
And Marina Hyde’s campaign trail begins, in Stoke-on-Trent with the PM and here in the Guardian:
Thus far on the campaign, Conservative party branding on the huge THERESA MAY posters has been incredibly small, giving it the flavour of those speedily garbled disclaimers at the end of US TV drug adverts: ‘May cause mood swings, palpitations, hives, hair loss, suicidal thoughts, anal leakage, a savagely underfunded NHS and the continuing elevation of Liam Fox.’
In Stoke, there was no branding at all – and I don’t think May said the word ‘Conservative’ once. The closest she came was the declaration that: ‘We as a party were quite early to realise that immigration was a concern.’ There’s really never been a more important moment for voters to take back control of the control they took back last June.
Revelation of the day
Having finally confirmed that he does not believe gay sex is a sin, Tim Farron has now had to clarify his views on abortion, after the Guardian found a 2007 interview in which he told the Salvation Army’s War Cry magazine:
Abortion is wrong. Society has to climb down from the position that says there is nothing objectionable about abortion before a certain time. If abortion is wrong, it is wrong at any time.
When reminded of this, he told us his views had shifted:
I am pro-choice. I believe that abortion should be safe and legal and that the limit should be set by science.
Perhaps the more useful reminder is that Oxford University’s Bodleian library holds back copies of War Cry (along with, basically, everything else). Like Google, for people with more than 0.55 seconds to spare.
The day in a tweet
And another thing
Would you like to wake up to this briefing in your inbox every weekday? Sign up here!