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All Quiet on the Election Front

26 June 2024
| by Field Team

As the General Election canters into the final week, political apathy appears to have gripped the nation

Usually, with a week or so left to polling, there is a buzz and excitement as politicians try to win over voters. However, there appears to be substantial apathy around this campaign, with the public seemingly accepting that a Labour government is inevitable. With large numbers of Conservative voters due to stay at home, we can’t help but notice how flat this election campaign has become.

This is reflected by the leaders’ behaviour. Rishi Sunak has looked exhausted, whilst Keir Starmer is more than happy to continue not making any news which might upset Labour’s substantial poll lead. Ed Davey no longer is making a (sometimes literal) splash with his daily adventure and Nigel Farage seems to have gone down the pub. Despite the betting scandal, which has occupied most of the headlines in recent days, non-election news is dominating coverage, which is very strange with eight days to go.

The public’s apathy is reflected in the audience figures for the TV debates. Fewer than 5 million people tuned into the ITV debate on the 4th June, a drop of 2 million from the same debate in 2019. The multi-party debates do even worse with ITV’s pulling in just over 2 million and the BBC’s bringing in a combined 3.2 million and that was over 2 channels.

Party election broadcasts (PEBs) have been substantially downgraded compared to previous elections, which means they hardly inspire. Labour’s includes a chat between Starmer and Gary Neville in the Lake District – a distinctly dialled-in effort.  The Conservatives seem to have gone even more basic, with one of their broadcasts simply replaying a press conference given by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott. Given they used to be a key part of selling the message to voters, PEBs appear to be little more than social media content, despite the fact the viewing figures for these will still be higher than their social media posts.

Tonight sees the final TV debate involving Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer. Maybe there will be a final spark to make the final week of the campaign liven up a bit. But with just over a week to go until polling day, we’re not betting on it.

(Photo provided by Paul Grover via The Telegraph)

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