So we are almost at the finishing post and what a campaign this has been, quite unlike any in recent memory in fact. Set aside the external events that have helped to shape this election and may yet influence the result, as a political race it has given us drama of almost Shakespearean levels over the past 10 weeks.
In the pitched battle between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn we have witnessed the fall of the mighty and the rise of the underdog. While it would be too easy to cast Mrs May as Lady Macbeth, her campaign has certainly mirrored aspects of the Macbeth power struggle (note too, Tony Blair’s Banquo-esque and short-lived shuffle into the early days of the campaign).
However, perhaps the Shakesperean analogy lends a little too much pathos to the act of modern day politicking. Maybe we should see them in the context of a modern day institution that dumbs down the message for mass consumption, such as The Apprentice.
Were this the culmination of the popular reality melodrama, we would be looking forward to ‘The Final’ and taking a look back at the series to rate the performance of the finalists and the other candidates (complete with stand out moments, soundbites and bloopers). So in that vein, here’s a round up for General Election 2017.
Theresa May: Started out as bookie’s favourite and will probably be first past the post, but she has not had a good campaign and whether she will emerge from it stronger, stable and better off for calling a snap election is doubtful. Robotic, awkward, controlling and apparently lacking empathy her shortcomings as a leader have been exposed through poor preparation and presentation of the task at hand. It is quite extraordinary that the wheels have come off this particular bus in such a spectacular fashion and the blame games will be well under way. Note how those around her have talked of the importance of ‘message discipline’ – that’s short hand for saying she’s vulnerable when off script.
Jeremy Corbyn: Written off by bookies, Tories and political commentators alike, Jeremy Corbyn has been something of an enigma this campaign. Lambasted by the Establishment he has nonetheless proved to be a formidable opponent on the campaign trail. Plucking from a magic tree of policy proposals while trying to combat the weeds of his past will not sway the silent voters, but his ability to connect with people, galvanise the young and communicate an alternative vision has been a revelation and one which will silence, for a while, many of his critics within his own party.
Tim Farron: The dark horse emerged too late to ‘do a Clegg’, but as this campaign but he has gained credibility as this campaign has gone on. While the others have floundered on repetitive soundbites, he has tapped into the popular vein in the past two weeks with humour and a measure of common sense. Unfortunately for the Lib Dems, they got their policy call wrong at the beginning by promising Brexit referendum v.2 and for that mistake Mr Farron was always going to pay.
The Losers: This is a collective term reserved for the supporting players in the Corbyn and May teams who have cost their leaders in the credibility stakes. For Labour, Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry have had far too much airtime and have cornered the market in on-air waffle. While Ms Thornberry at least raised a wry smile with her dismissal of Michael Farron on daytime TV, Ms Abbott has been a particular drain, with not one but two car crash interviews to her name.
Meanwhile, for the Blues, Boris Johnson continues to illustrate why nobody really trusts him to fly the flag for post Brexit Britain. He has delivered some bizarre performances that would not have looked out of place at an 8 year old’s birthday party. Meanwhile, Amber Rudd has at times appeared as if she was taking the strong and stable brief to new levels and will have won no fans with this week’s accusation of hustings censorship.
The winners: Compared to the boring 2015 election, this campaign has been a veritable gold mine for the pundits. While Jeremy Paxman will be sent hurtling back into retirement for reviving his angry man act, Andrew Neil reinforced his reputation as an astute studio assassin who did the most to put the leaders on the spot. Notable mentions for Robert Peston and Andrew Marr for sustaining our political fix through the weekends and the Duracell Bunny award must surely go to BBC political editor, Laura Kuenssberg. She seems to have been anywhere and everywhere over this campaign and always at the head of the pack with questions that get under the skin… to the point of becoming a panto villain for the left and the right.
There is one last chapter of this riveting campaign to unfold, so get your rest because Thursday is going to be a very long day…and Laura will be everywhere!
Luan de Burgh
Luan de Burgh is a speaker, writer and founder of The de Burgh Group – a specialist business communication training provider dedicated to helping people perform at their highest potentia