The darling buds of May may be dripping with poison this year. Theresa May’s surprise calling a general election for June 8th will ensure a busy period for all the major parties this summer.
Given the way the Prime Minister has been so quiet since triggering Article 50, you might be forgiven for thinking she was happy to proceed with her Brexit plans through the summer and seek a mandate from the electorate later in the year or even upon conclusion of the negotiations. It appears, however, that she is keen to capitalize on the relative weakness of Labour at present and to seek out her own mandate for what look to be very rocky talks ahead with the EU 27.
What is certain is that this is likely to be one of the most caustic elections in recent memory with politicians speaking to a very divided electorate. As the only major party with a Remain stance, the Liberal Democrats will be interesting to watch between now and election day to see if the Remain minority move towards them. In Northern Ireland, where devolved government, is in a state of hiatus currently, there is real concern over the added instability of a general election. In Scotland, the election will be fought against the backdrop of a looming independence referendum that is being pushed by the SNP. Wherever you look there are intriguing subplots and potential flashpoints.
Although it seems hard to imagine any party challenging the Tories dominant position, there will be opportunities to be grasped by all the other parties. Messaging has been extraordinarily muddled in the political sphere from 2016 right up to the present and it will be interesting to see if any party’s campaign can cut through the Brexit noise to articulate an alternative vision, or just escape that dominant theme.
Technology in political campaigning has improved a lot in recent years. Individual candidates are moving swiftly to newer and smarter ways of targeting their supporters and reaching out to other demographics. Canvassing tools, targeted emails, digital ad spend and campaign team management are all going to be to the fore this time out. Which candidates are able to mobilize fastest may, ultimately, be the ones to get their message in front of a bamboozled electorate best.
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