Never has the Conservative party been more confident about winning a general election. Theresa May’s popularity ratings have broken all records; her aim in this campaign is not just to defeat the Labour party but to destroy it. The Tory MPs who talk about ten years in power are the more cautious ones; some talk about staying in government until the 2040s.
The party’s name is seldom mentioned in this campaign.
Once, politicians remained in their safe spaces and elections were fought in a handful of swing seats. This time Theresa May is campaigning in Labour heartlands, pitching herself at people who have never considered voting Conservative before. Tories are targeting seats they have not held since the 1930s and social class seems almost irrelevant. Pollsters YouGov recently observed that class now tells us ‘little more about a person’s voting intention that looking at their horoscope or reading their palms’.
Wrexham, North Wales
To window cleaner Andrew Atkinson, Theresa May’s ‘blue-collar Conservatism’ is not just a slogan. It’s what he is. For the duration of the general election, gap-toothed, 32-year-old Atkinson has hung up his chamois leathers and water-fed poles and taken to campaigning on doorsteps in a bid to become Wrexham’s first Conservative MP. The campaign is costing him a fortune in lost jobs.
The NHS as we know it is dying. It’s no longer a matter of if it will collapse, but when. Those of us who work on the front line have known this for some time, and it’s heartbreaking. Last week’s ransomware cyber-attack served to highlight how frail and vulnerable the health service is. While many tried to blame Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for failing to prevent such a disaster, the archaic IT system is actually emblematic of how the NHS as a whole has struggled to keep up to date and adapt to the modern world with the necessary speed.
Spas are supposed to be relaxing. You pad around in a regulation robe and too-big slippers. Everything is beautifully soft, crisply white, low lit. There are loungers for flopping and glasses of tea —pale yellow and herbal, not builder’s. Towels are everywhere.
It’s rehydrating, restful, rejuvenating. Music tinkles in the background; occasionally a cymbal resounds. The treatment list has huge promise.
I was invited to Moscow earlier this year to give a talk about my latest book. But while I was there, I wanted to see if I could track down a few survivors of the gulags — the prison work camps where millions died during the communist years. I wanted to film interviews with them to be used as exhibits in a museum of communist terror which I hope to help create.
I asked Anne Applebaum, who wrote Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps, if she could offer any advice on finding survivors.
When Theresa May went off to Switzerland on a walking holiday last August, she said it was the ‘peace and quiet’ that drew her there — but I can’t help thinking there’s more to it than that. The Swiss are famous for their efficiency — and if there was ever a Brit who would appreciate things happening on time, it’s Theresa May.
Yes, it is something of a cliché to say that no one does timekeeping like the Swiss.