The Week in Review

Jack Williamson

Another hectic week of campaigning kicked off with Labour Leader, Keir Starmer, expressing his readiness to use nuclear weapons to defend the UK, emphasising that "security will always come first" under his leadership. Starmer told an audience that he aimed to distance his party from Jeremy Corbyn's opposition to the Trident nuclear system and reaffirmed Labour's commitment to boosting defence spending to 2.5 percent of GDP, though without a set deadline, contrasting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's 2030 target. 

Starmer also used his speech on Monday to commit Labour to a "nuclear triple lock": continuing to build four new nuclear submarines in Barrow-in-Furness, maintaining Britain's at-sea deterrent, and delivering all future upgrades for submarine patrols. 

After his shock announcement the previous day, Tuesday saw the Reform UK Leader and candidate for Clacton-on-Sea, Nigel Farage, receive a soggy surprise. Farage was in Clacton launching his campaign, where he addressed a crowd on the seafront proclaiming: “No longer will you be ignored”, pledging to fight for his prospective constituents. This address was followed by a trip to a local Wetherspoons, where a young woman hurled a McDonald’s milkshake at him. A 25-year-old woman has since been arrested on suspicion of assault and is currently in custody for questioning.

Following a tempestuous TV debate on Tuesday evening, Wednesday was dominated by a media storm surrounding claims by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, that Labour’s spending plans would cost taxpayers £2000 in higher taxes. The Conservatives claimed the numbers were produced by impartial civil servants. However, the BBC reported that James Bowler, the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, had written to Labour two days ago saying that the numbers “should not be presented as having been produced by the civil service”.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Laura Trott, doubled down on Sunak’s claims and denied that voters had been misled, insisting that independent analysis had identified a black hole in Labour's spending plans. The Office for Statistics Regulation are now conducting an inquiry into the claims.

On Thursday, the Green Party called for an extra £50bn to 'nurse NHS to health', financed by taxes on the top one percent of earners. The Greens are targeting four parliamentary seats at this election and are also proposing new laws to fight NHS privatisation, claiming outsourced contracts siphon off £1bn annually. Despite criticism and the withdrawal of four candidates over antisemitic remarks, the Greens pledged to push the next government for substantial healthcare investments.

The end of the week was consumed by an unforced error from the Conservatives. There was outrage when it was revealed that Sunak left a D-Day memorial event with other world leaders early, for a campaign interview with ITV. The subsequent photo of Foreign Secretary, David Cameron posing with Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron, only compounded the issue further. Sunak has however already admitted that the judgement call was a “mistake”.

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