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Coffee House General Election 2017

What the papers say: Should the Tories be panicking?

A YouGov poll suggesting we could be heading for a hung parliament caused a furore in Westminster yesterday – but should we believe it? The Times defends the estimate in its leader this morning, saying that while it’s right to treat the poll with ‘scepticism’, it says ‘the figures are based on interviews with many thousands of people and (uses) sophisticated statistical techniques’. The results might be ‘surprising’, the paper concedes, but that’s ‘precisely why they need to be scrutinised’. Admittedly, there are a few ‘caveats’: ‘the model takes only a snapshot’ – and voters ‘can still change their minds’. But one thing is clear: ‘the direction of travel’. The Tories started the election campaign way ahead. Now, their lead in the polls has been slashed. And come June 9th, if Britain ends up with a hung parliament, it will be ‘a career-ending prospect for Mrs May’.

‘A gargantuan pinch of salt’ is needed when looking at the polls, says the Daily Mail. It does, though, remain certain that ‘the gap between the Tories and Labour has narrowed since the campaign began’. The Mail calls the YouGov poll ‘rogue’. Yet the paper goes on to say that the Tories are certainly having a ‘wobble’ – ‘for which they themselves must take much of the blame’. The party has ‘ failed abysmally’ to convey its track record in government to voters. Take the number of ’workless households in Britain (which) are now at a record low’ or the fact that the FTSE 100 is at an all time high; ‘Why have the Conservatives not trumpeted these achievements from the rooftops?,’ the paper asks. ‘It’s a huge mystery, too’,’ says the Mail, as to why the Tories haven’t hit Jeremy Corbyn harder over his views on mass immigration. The paper says it cannot escape the conclusion that some of Theresa May’s troubles have been ‘entirely self-inflicted’: ‘her biggest mistake, clearly, was her plan to recover the costs of social care from the estates of recipients who leave more than £100,000 on their deaths’, according to the Mail. But with only a week to go, the paper has a suggestion to the PM: she should ’admit humbly that her manifesto pledge was a well-intentioned mistake’ – and spend longer ‘on her party’s stunning economic successes (and) her determination to get the best deal for Britain over Brexit’.

The Sun agrees, saying that Theresa May needs to spell out why voters should back her this time next week – and being Jeremy Corbyn ‘is not enough’. Yes, Corbyn is ‘selling a wonderland’. Yet alongside the Tory campaign ‘it’s small wonder he appears to be picking up support’. Theresa May’s pitch to voters has been ‘unnecessarily defensive’, according to the Sun, which says we have ‘heard far too little’ about the Tory’s ‘bold’ plans for Britain. Now, it’s time for the Conservatives to ‘start shouting about’ their ‘sensible, carefully considered prospectus..from the rooftops’.

The question next Thursday for voters, says the Daily Telegraph, is simple: who can they trust? Amid polling suggesting we’re heading for a hung parliament, the paper says ‘if Labour backbenchers did not trust’ Jeremy Corbyn ‘and tried to push him out, why should he be foisted on the rest of us?’ Yes, it’s true that the chances of the Labour leader addressing the nation as Britain’s new Prime Minister come June 9th ‘remains small’.’But it is real enough for people who might be thinking of using their vote to protest against the Tories or Brexit to use it wisely,’ the Telegraph warns.

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