A Political Farce

Picture of Theresa May

The saying that a week is a lifetime in politics must surely be haunting senior figures in the Conservative party right now.

In the seven weeks from Theresa May calling the snap election, a seemingly insurmountable lead by the Conservative party has been completely eroded leaving what was meant to be a strengthening of her government to a party scrabbling around the political fringes to desperately try and form a majority government.

That the Conservatives would politically endanger themselves by seeking an alliance with the DUP shows just how disastrous this election has been for them.

While the telephone conference calls between the powerful committees that run the Conservative party consider Theresa May’s position and discuss their strategy to hold on to power and bring a semblance of authority back to the party, the detailed analysis of what went so terribly wrong for the Tories is yet to happen.

A failure to communicate

While the decision making behind the call for a snap election and the strategies for the Conservative campaign will be at the forefront of many of those conference calls and are likely to remain private, what we can say for certain is that the May’s inner circle horribly mismanaged their communication strategy right from the very beginning of this election and when it became clear that their strategy was hurting their campaign.

Rather than try to fix it they doubled down causing even more damage to their lead over Labour.

It became clear early on that every time Theresa May spoke to the press the Conservative party dropped points and lost credibility.

Seemingly May and her team only felt comfortable communicating in sound bites and clichés, ducking questions with stock answers which only served to distance her further from the electorate and leave journalists frustrated.

When the Daily Telegraph, normally a reliable cheerleader for the Conservative party, starts to mock a Conservative leader during an election campaign you know that something has gone terribly wrong.

Fall of an empire

Stepping back from the focus on the Conservative party, another seismic change in this election cycle had just as significant an effect on the result as the failings of any political party.

This election saw vociferous attacks by the tabloid press on key figures in the Labour party, specifically Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn, which broke new ground for the already vicious and partisan press in the UK.

Both the Daily Mail and The Sun concentrated fully on negative attacks, which in past elections would’ve been expected to have a sizeable impact on an election result.

Having enjoyed considerable power over politicians and the electorate, perhaps we are seeing the decline of an empire in the lack of impact the printed press was able to deliver, a relic of a different information and technology age that just doesn’t speak to a newly mobilised generation of voters.

In fact, one paper has firmly nailed its colours to the mast by decrying the youth vote as being purely self-serving and misguided, regardless of the facts and polls painting a very different picture.

That Rupert Murdoch was reported to have stormed out of The Times election party in disgust upon hearing the exit polls shows that it is not just the Conservative party who perhaps need to rethink and re-evaluate their communication strategy to connect with the electorate.

This election has already seen two high profile casualties with Theresa May pressured into removing her two chiefs of staff after senior Tories complained of a very secretive and impenetrable inner circle surrounding the PM but this seems akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

What surely has to be at the forefront of the numerous telephone conference calls that will be scheduled over the next few weeks is how their could be such a disconnect between a party in power seeking a greater majority and the electorate, how a party who enjoys significant support from large sections of the press failed so categorically in connecting with vast swathes of the country.