Are the General Election results in the hands of the political party leaders?

As you have probably seen, election mode is in full swing in the UK ever since Theresa May announced a snap election to be held on the 8th of June 2017. The media have been discussing it at length over the last number of days and political parties are already announcing election pledges. The most recent election pledge which has grabbed headlines everywhere is the announcement by the leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn that he was going to introduce 4 new bank holidays if elected. His idea behind this was to have one day for the 4 countries in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). While many 9 - 5 working people will be happy with this announcement, a lot of political correspondents are describing it as a cheap shot to get votes.

Another announcement that was grabbing headlines last week was the announcement that Theresa May would not do any live televised leader debates in the run up to the general election. The leader debates are aired in the run up to the election and are very popular amongst voters and the media. It was recorded that during the 2015 general election, more than a third of voters are influenced by leader debates. Comparing this to other data, the BBC reported that TV was by far the most influential media source when it comes to voters deciding on who to vote for in a general election. So if this data is correct, why would Theresa May not take part in one? The PM has been heavily criticised by the media and also the Labour leader. According to ITV, Corbyn said in the House of Commons that "… She [Theresa May] says it’s about leadership, yet is refusing to defend her record in television debates and it’s not hard to see why. If she’s so proud of her record, why won’t she debate it?"
Only a few days after Jeremy's comments in Parliament, he found himself in a big mess after his interview on the Andrew Marr Show. Following the outcome of the interview, I am sure that a lot of people are thinking that he maybe should have taken a similar approach to the Tories, at least for the time being!

If you haven't seen the media reports following Jeremy Corbyn's interview, then let me just explain what happened. The leader of the Labour party, who has been largely criticised by UK voters, completely disagreed with an important military decision that the Houses of Commons voted on in July 2016. The vote was on renewing the Trident Nuclear Deterrent and extending its life to 2060. The Trident Nuclear Deterrent or Programme as it is also known as, refers to the development, procurement and operation in which nuclear weapons can be used in the UK. The Trident is in effect in case the UK is ever under severe threat and it is support by most MPs and military groups.  Jeremy Corbyn claimed in his interview that he would never use nuclear weapons under "any circumstances". Although Corbyn has always made his thoughts on the use of Nuclear weapons clear, he was going against the Houses of Parliament, his party and what the majority of MPs voted for less than 12 months ago.

In the interview, Corbyn also said that his party's thoughts on including the renewing of the Trident programme in the Labour Party's manifesto was still being discussed. This was quickly picked up by the media and reported widely after his interview. The Labour party had to (pretty embarrassingly) go back on what Corbyn had said and come out in favour of the renewing of the Trident Nuclear Programme. The Labour Party's statement said; “The decision to renew Trident has been taken and Labour supports that.” Less than a week after the snap election was called, the Labour Party found themselves in a PR crisis and I wonder, how many others are they going to have before the people take to the polls on June 8th?

Leaders of political parties play a key role in the outcome of general elections. Their views are seen as the heart of the party and when they are interviewed, what they say can have a positive or detrimental effect on the party as a whole and on its MPs. When something like Jeremy Corbyn's interview happens it has a very bad impact on the party and causes confusion amongst voters. Politics is confusing enough for people without them having to listen to two conflicting opinions from a political party and its leader. 

Leadership in politics is very important for many reasons and I think that good communication skills is one of the key attributes that a leader must have. Political party leaders are the face of a party and could be the potential leader of a country so when mistakes like Corbyn's interview happens, it doesn't shed a great light on anyone involved with the party or on its election campaign.

There is evidence that there is a clear link between political party leaders and the outcome of general elections. Although Corbyn does have some very strong supporters within the Labour party, he is not liked enough the general public and therefore he is currently leading the Labour party to defeat.  It will be interesting to see over the next couple of weeks if Labour's popularity starts to rise as currently the Tories are on track to have a majority in the House of Commons. It will be interesting to see if leadership has played a key role in the Labour Party's ratings. 

If you are like me and love election time, it's going to be an interesting few weeks.

A.

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