History is repeating itself as the 2015 general election campaign is echoed in the 2017 snap vote.
The last election is happening all over again.
1. Michael Fallon is wheeled out to link the opposition leader to nuclear war
The smearer-in-chief Michael Fallon, or the Minister for the Today Programme, as he has sometimes been labelled, was unleashed by CCHQ to warn that as Ed Miliband “stabbed his own brother in the back” to lead Labour, he was “willing to stab the UK in the back” and threaten national security by doing a deal with the Scottish National Party to cancel Trident. It was nasty and untrue, and sadly political rhetoric has only worsened since.
The Tory Terminator is back! This time, aiming his nuclear wordheads at Jeremy Corbyn. But with essentially the same script as last time. Yes, the Labour leader was branded a “security risk” on Trident by the same Defence Secretary who was accused of keeping parliament in the dark over a failed nuclear weapons test (which suggests no threat to national security at all, of course).
Fallon says Theresa May would fire Trident as a “first strike”. So once again in British politics, to prove you can be trusted with national security you have to be more committed than your opponent to starting a nuclear war.
2. The Conservatives will conjure up the prospect of coalition to scare voters
In what appeared to be a rather risky strategy of constantly putting your opponents on your campaign literature, elegantly playing the recorder, the Tories banged on for weeks about Ed Miliband potentially doing a deal with the SNP in government. And somehow, despite actually being in coalition themselves, the Tories managed to make coalition sound scary enough for this strategy to work.
Guys, did you know that there’s the chance of a “coalition of chaos” after the election? A “coalition of chaos”, yeah. What’s that, you say? We don’t know either, but it sounds good, doesn’t it? “Coalition”. “Chaos”. Alliteration. No, we know there’s no chance of it happening either and that Labour is refusing to work with other parties anyway but stiiiiill “coalition of chaos” is definitely a thing. “Coalition of chaos”.
COALITION OF CHAOS sounds like an amazing heavy metal band. (Latest Tory leaflet) pic.twitter.com/QBfMquCFVu
— Anne-Marie Canning (@amcanning) April 15, 2015
The good thing about this is that the coalition bogeyman may have less traction this time round because so few people see there being much likelihood of a Corbyn premiership.
3. Someone will photoshop the opposition leader incongruously wearing a flower crown and people will ask if it could affect the election result
#Milifandom was the symbol of a more innocent time in our politics. “Whilst the Sun attacks the 17-year-old behind the Milifandom craze, young people have found an arena of their own in which to have political discussion without obvious tabloid bias,” one fan told the Independent on the eve of the election. “This will obviously have a bearing on the election.”
But don’t let your flowers wilt just yet, o admiring youth of the ironic web! For Corbyn became a cult figure loved and memed by many, young and old, the moment he began campaigning to be Labour leader.
blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned=”” data-instgrm-version=”7″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”>
Not since flower-crowned Ed had Britain seen a politician so revered. Will this have a bearing on the election? Perhaps, but not in the way some fans may wish . . .
4. Russell Brand will say something and people will ask if it could affect the election result
That thirsty thesaurus Russell Brand interviewed a number of politicians ahead of the general election campaign for his stressful YouTube channel The Trews and none was more anticipated than when Ed went round to his house a few days before the election. A performance filled with glottal stops and nonchalant shrugs, dropped tees and aitches left an audience clenched in cringe – and a Labour Party without the endorsement it wanted. Brand went for the Greens in the end.
He hasn’t had a cosy chat with Corbyn yet but Brand has just returned to live radio with a new show, and it looks like he won’t stay quiet for long as he’s already gatecrashed Katie Hopkins’s LBC show on live radio to lure “Hatie Hopkins” back to humanity.
5. A politician will be caught having the audacity to consume food
Ed Miliband ate a bacon sandwich, and it made front-page news. Read my colleague Amelia on why politicians eating in public is such a global preoccupation.
Jeremy Corbyn has had many a food-based controversy. Giant-marrow-wielding aside, he has angered Mumsnet with his dislike of biscuits, and called kebab shops “a place of great discourse and discussion” yet implored their owners to serve salad too, to provide “the balanced diet that everybody needs”, and further riling them by supporting the sugar tax.
After British supermarkets ration supplies of vegetables, one man is set to make a profit: pic.twitter.com/1R6rbLCWeZ
— HaveIGotNewsForYou (@haveigotnews) February 3, 2017
6. People will trust or dismiss polls depending on whether they confirm their political bias
Polling: The polls are neck and neck = the Tories will win it/Labour will win it.
Result: The Tories won an outright majority.
Polling: The Tories have a historic poll lead = the Tories will win it/Labour will win it.
Result: We know now never to make predictions because . . .
7. Every single one will be wrong
For a while after the result, everything looked like this…
. . . so, guys, why should we believe the polls this time round saying Labour will be destroyed?
8. Apart from the ones that show Labour doing badly
That’s what Scottish polls said at the time
And were pretty accurate compared to GE 2015 result
— Jeremy Blackwell (@WeAreThe59) March 25, 2017
9. Which will be extremely accurate
10. Well-timed colds will cover up difficult policy positions
Luckily, the then Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, had a cold, which meant she was able to casually cough and sneeze her way through LBC’s questioning on her housing policy. So smooth. No one noticed. Cough.
Not strictly part of the election campaign, but the shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, was thought to have a bout of “Brexit flu”, hence she missed the first Commons vote to trigger Article 50.
11. Nigel Farage will lose his seat
In a beautifully degrading snapshot beside Al Murray’s Pub Landlord Little Englander caricature, the then Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, lost in South Thanet – failing to be elected to parliament for the seventh time.
Will there be an eighth time? With his successor Paul Nuttall apparently preferring to lock himself in a room away from journalists asking whether he’ll be running for a seat, it looks like Farage is still the party’s main hope.