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One Week In - A Tale of Two Campaigns

29 May 2024
| by Field Team

One week into the 2024 general election campaign the contrast between Labour and the Conservatives couldn't be more distinct.

In the opening days of this election, Labour has played it safe, presenting itself as a party already in government with steady, reliable photos and solid campaign speeches. Rachel Reeves, for instance, pledged on Tuesday to lead the most pro-growth and pro-business Treasury ever, going on to say how there would be no Labour budget before an OBR forecast. If you had pre-booked holidays during September, it might be worth looking to re-book these.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have launched a presidential-style campaign, complete with cheesy slogans, Gen Z-targeted social media posts, and gimmicks. While Labour emphasises safety and caution, the Conservatives are busy rolling out new ideas and policies, trying to set the election narrative from the outset. In the first few days alone, the Tories have announced two major policies, while Labour has yet to reveal any new initiatives.

Leading the Tory policy charge was the grand revival of national service for 18-year-olds. Over the weekend, Sunak announced that teenagers will either march off to the military for a year or spend their weekends picking up litter and helping old ladies cross the street. The pilot kicks off in September 2025, with a national rollout by 2029. Under the Tories' plan, 30,000 teens will be plucked from their digital bubbles and thrust into paid military service consisting of cyber security, logistics, or civil response operations. The rest will get 25 days of unpaid community service. The whole scheme would cost £2.5 billion, funded by the levelling up fund - because who needs regional development when you have national service?

Labour’s response to this new policy was to claim it as classic Conservative predictability, stating it to be nothing more than a ploy to lure in grumpy traditionalists who are swaying towards Reform.

The second election policy announcement from the Tories came in the form of a £2.4 billion tax cut for pensioners. With an eye firmly on the ever-important grey vote, Sunak has promised to raise the personal allowance for pensioners in line with earnings, inflation, or 2.5%, whichever is higher. It’s a very nice deal indeed, offering up to £300 more a year to 8 million pensioners by the end of the next parliament.

However, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth was quick to brand this as another desperate move from a party clutching at straws. This didn’t stop Sunak however, who declared on Tuesday how “This bold action demonstrates we are on the side of pensioners.” Translation: “Please, please, vote for us.”

As the election continues, one thing is clear, the Conservatives are trying everything and anything they can in the hope that something sticks with the British public. Whether national service nostalgia or pensioner pandering will be the magic bullet remains to be seen.

(Photo provided be PA Media)

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