The Friday Fizz is Not Enough Champagne's review of the week's news. You can read previous instalments here.
If I had a pound for every time I had heard someone say that "Labour should be 15 points ahead in the polls against this useless government", this podcast would have no need to set up a Patreon account. Yet in the reaction of many on websites such as Conservative Home, not always a representative barometer I'll grant you, the question is often turned on its head: "Why aren't we 15 points ahead of a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn?" In politics, as with so many other things, perspective is anything.
The shock of last year's election result, as well as the fact that many attacks on Corbyn's past sympathies did not cut through to the electorate, has led to a period of soul-searching for many Conservative Politicians. As previous Fizzes have noted, these attacks tend to be a little to abstract, often ending up in vague assertions of things like "defending capitalism".
These vague generalities are often undercut by government policy, such as the cap on energy prices. A more recent example is Chris Grayling's announcement that the East Coast Main Line was going to be temporarily nationalised. The reprivatisation of the ECML was a short-sighted decision taken for ideological reasons, and it's no surprise that the government has gone back on this policy. For all Grayling's bluster, this will neutralise Conservative attacks on many of Labour's plans. It's a good line for activists to use on the doorstep: How can nationalising things be so dangerous when it's current government policy?
We have seen a few current and former government ministers tentatively outlining future strategy for the Conservative Party. On Tuesday, Michael Gove was speaking at a report launched by the Centre for Policy Studies, and said that the Conservatives needed to do more than go on about Venezuela. The following day, Justine Greening spoke to the Bright Blue Thinktank and said that the last time the Conservative Party connected with people's aspirations was 1992, a dig at both Theresa May and David Cameron. Next week, Ruth Davidson is speaking at Onward, a new centre-right thinktank which claims that the name's resemblance to Emmanuel Macron's movement is a complete coincidence. What Davidson says on Monday will be very interesting, as she is one of the few British Politicians who might be able to break the mould politics is currently set in.
I am sure that it is a complete coincidence that all these speeches on the party's future direction occurred when the current Prime Minister was easily bested by Jeremy Corbyn for the second week in a row, by asking straightforward questions about government policy. For perhaps the question that many Tories ask themselves is: "If Theresa May can get so easily beaten at PMQs, what does that say about her leadership?"
Old, New, Borrowed and Blue
Old: Another Plug for the best bits of our podcast from last year.
New: This week's Midweek Shot is one we recorded during the local elections with Fred Grindrod, about Brexit and media bias.
Borrowed: Italy has a new government, and there is a useful primer on Reaction here. This and in particular this piece on the GCSE exams which started this week are a sad reminder of the toll these new exams are having on our children's mental health. Worth a read this Mental Health Awareness Week.
Blue: Neil O'Brien and Will Tanner wrote an article for the Sun giving five things the Tories need to do in order to get a majority.
Pop Culture Recommendation
Erin Ryan, Crooked Media contributor, has a wonderful thread on what your favourite Muppet character says about you.
That's all for this week. We have a new podcast out on Sunday.