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Alastair Campbell’s election diary: The Conservatives deserve a superdefeat

What the Tories mean by a ‘supermajority’ is that they are set to lose really, really badly on July 4. Good

Image: TNE

I invented a new word on my blog, and New European editor-in-chief Matt Kelly liked it, so I am giving it another airing here. Superdefeat.

The fact that my computer keeps trying to make me split it in two indicates the novelty. Which means it has just as much meaning, and constitutional significance, as the Tories’ latest vote-suppression tactic turned strategy, aka “supermajority”.

A supermajority – the need for a vote bigger than a simple majority for a legislative change to pass – is what we should have had for Brexit; then we might have been spared the chaos, division and decline that have followed. But of course David Cameron knew best, Project Fear would see off the threat and we would sail on. Hey ho.

What the Tories mean by a “supermajority” is that they could lose really, really badly on July 4. They have pretty much given up pretending they deserve another term, so the plan is variously to stop people from thinking they need to vote, curb tactical voting, and spread rather than challenge cynicism and apathy.

It deserves to fail, but I have heard too many stories from candidates and canvassers that it is having an effect, with some who have indicated they will vote Labour becoming “don’t knows” or switching to Green, Lib Dem or SNP because “Labour are going to win anyway”.

If everyone thought that way, they wouldn’t win at all and we would be stuck with the Tories for another five bloody years.

Labour won’t get a supermajority because in our parliamentary system there is no such thing. They will either get a majority, or they won’t. They will win, or lose.

And they will only win if people vote for their candidates in sufficient numbers. Sorry to state the bleedin’ obvious but sometimes that is needed. But my final point is this: the Tories deserve to be hammered, for all the harm they have done, to our economy, our public services, our culture, our politics, our standing in the world. Give them a superbeating. They have earned it, by being a world-beatingly dreadful government.

You’ll no doubt think that the reason my answer to the question was “Taylor Swift” was that my audience consisted of 2,500 schoolchildren. But no, I meant it.

The question was: “Which living person you have never met would you most like to sit down with and talk politics?” There are three main reasons why I chose Taylor…

First, because though I don’t think she has the talent of an Elvis or a Beatles, she is getting close to matching them in terms of the scale of the phenomenon she has become; second, because the phenomenon has given her a form of power; and finally, because I would love to have a go at trying to persuade her to use that power ahead of the US presidential elections in November.

In Singapore recently, I was told that her week there boosted the economy to the tune of many hundreds of millions of dollars. No wonder the Singaporean government considered well spent the money they paid her – reportedly $3m per show – not to perform in other countries in the region, provoking angry reactions from South East Asian neighbours.

That alone shows that she is swimming in geopolitical as well as economic waters. How about this for a Nikkei headline: “Taylor Swift buoys Singapore GDP to 2.7% Q1 growth”? Swiftonomics… it’s a thing.

She is, when all is said and sung, a performer, and it is entirely up to her the extent to which she decides to get involved in politics. Initially reluctant to do so at all, in the 2018 mid-terms she backed two Democrat candidates in her home state of Tennessee, getting a fair bit of grief from Donald Trump and supporters, who can be as fanatical about him as Swifties are about her.
Step forward the conspiracy theory that her fame was engineered by the Pentagon as part of a Democrat “psy-op”.

Yet though she is known for broadly liberal views, she has dialled down on the political front of late. I profoundly hope that as November 5 nears, she dials back up again.

I am generally sceptical of the power of celebrity endorsements. But if Swift were to come out loud and proud for Joe Biden, and warn of the dangers of a second Trump spell in the White House, I reckon that could help swing things in the right direction.

My thanks to Waterstones, who organised the above event for schools from all four nations of the UK, to launch my two new children’s books on politics. I was asked, given the state of the world, where I find reasons to be optimistic. Right now, I am optimistic that the worst government in history is about to be evicted from office. But I also know it is going to take more than a change of government to turn the country around.

It is going to take a new generation to revive our democratic health. And for all the bad rep the young often get from the old, every time I visit a school, or do an event like the one for Waterstones, my optimism grows a little more.

They get it much more than we give them credit for. And with proper political education, they would get it even more.

Sticking with Taylor Swift, you may have seen that Keir Starmer managed to find time in his busy schedule to go with his wife, Victoria, to one of her Wembley shows.

Elections are exhausting, especially for leaders, and yet if the Starmers are feeling the strain, it didn’t show on their faces. They both looked really happy to be there – the US superstar dressed in Labour red on the stage behind them in the distance – and remarkably untired.

There has been a steady trickle of media commentary questioning why we never see Madame Starmer on the campaign trail. No doubt if we did, the press would make the most of it.

She is very photogenic indeed, as the Wembley snap showed. But she and her husband are also shrewd.

They know that the real reason most of the media are urging him to show off this marital “asset” is so that they can fill countless pages with bitchy commentary on her looks, clothes, hair and makeup, whilst picking up on the slightest hint of a desire for a political profile to dig out the Lady Macbeth cliches that were chucked at Glenys Kinnock, Cherie Blair and Miriam Clegg among others (though never against Tory wives of course). How cruel it must feel to the Dacre-Murdoch school of journalism that the wife of an election-time party leader thinks that her work with the NHS, and the protection of her children from the pressures of modern political fame (not least newspapers) are more important than giving the Daily Mail and Co a new toy to play with.

So Scotland are out of the Euros.

Scotland’s fans, though (unlike others I could mention) have already won the hearts and minds of all who have followed the Tartan Army’s adventures.

I was in Munich and Stuttgart for the first and third games, and could not have been prouder of the humour, the civility, the passion, the noise, and of course the bagpipes.

Carlsberg don’t do musical instruments with which to march en masse on football stadia. But my God, if they did…

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