It’s time for reflection before the last full week of electioneering begins tomorrow.
The ad agency that dreamt up the wacky, tacky but essentially inaccurate creative thought that Theresa May could be successfully projected as a “strong and stable” pivot around which a Tory election landslide might be built got it wrong.
When an ad claims that Omo washes whiter, or a Mars a day helps you work rest and play we suspend our disbelief and play the game, because Omo doesn’t actually bring your clothes out dirtier, and a Mars bar doesn’t make you vomit. advertising puffery is OK.
Unfortunately, the decision to tie this Tory campaign to an ineffectual leader means that a May victory can make you dirtier…or even throw up.
Market research would never have endorsed the slogan “strong and stable”
But the Tory Party wanted an election victory to be a coronation.
On 19 June, when Brexit negotiations are due to begin, and May was supposed to ride to Brussels like Wellington after Waterloo.
She would like to say, as did Queen Elizabeth 1st that although she has the body of a weak and feeble woman, she has the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too…
The problem is that she doesn’t quite fit the bill.
May is not the product of your dreams.
In fact, incompetence is a word that comes to mind.
The charisma of a damp rag.
But to build a whole election campaign around a person so clearly lacking crowd-pleasing skills indicates a striking lack of awareness.
Here is a profound and serious flaw in the Tory strategy.
Everyone who has ever worked with her acknowledges that May’s preferred style of operating is in a tight group of trusted friends.
This was damagingly clear when several senior colleagues were still defending the uncapped, manifesto version of the dementia tax hours after the decision had been made to reverse it.
She has so far briefed that the election should be fought on the single issue of Jeremy Corbyn’s competence to deliver.
So far she has been proved wrong.
Labour’s campaign, and Corbyn himself, has been conspicuously competent from the start.
But whatever the bookies are saying this morning after the latest poll from YouGov puts the Tories only 3 points ahead, Labour has not won…yet
But May is no longer venturing out on marauding raids into Labour marginals in the north-west, but consolidating support in Tory marginals in the south-west.
The gap is narrowing because Labour’s has grown dramatically.
A lot of Labour support comes from young voters, who are historically less likely to actually do what they say.
If May does win a majority this is no personal victory.
She exposed the weaknesses of her style of politics to the country.
Her efforts to appear on the side of the worker are a charade when accompanied by continued austerity, failing hospitals and cash-starved schools.
Her MPs that remain may be relieved to be safe, but no one has gained from this nasty, mean, vituperative campaign.
She has earned little loyalty, let alone love.
Over the next six days, Theresa May will try to rebuild support behind the empress of Brexit model. She hopes to consolidate the alliance with Ukip that she won with her dramatic post-referendum conversion. Maybe this move was always on the campaign grid. But now it’s all she has left.
Strong and stable leadership with the help of UKIP?
She may well lose.
If they burn in hell it would be less than this virus deserves.