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As general election antics unfold, our UK Public Affairs team will be analysing the major parties’ campaign strategies in our Who’s Top Who’s Not series. 

Top: Jonathan Ashworth

Jonathan ‘Jonny Sparkles’ Ashworth is officially a Shadow Cabinet Minister but in practice, he is Labour’s main attack dog on the airwaves during the election campaign.

This sort of figure has often been referred to as ‘Minister for the Today Programme’ in the past and it is easy to see why when they are regularly in the media attacking their opponents in a way that some of their colleagues are either unable or unwilling to do.

But much Like Sir Ed Davey, Ashworth just seems to be having so much fun during this campaign! The latest example came this week when he demonstrated the holes in Tory plans for tax cuts by literally putting a copy of their manifesto through a shredder on stage at a press conference. Do pop it in the recycling, Jonny!

Middle: Luke Murphy and Sir Geoffrey Cox KC

Time is precious during the 5 or 6 weeks of any short campaign during a general election, so a good rule of thumb is that party leaders only visit seats that they and their teams think are competitive. Safe seats and no-hopers simply don’t get a look-in.

So WTWN was taken aback this week to see Keir Starmer visiting Labour candidate Luke Murphy in Basingstoke, Berkshire, and Rishi Sunak heading to Torridge, Devon to bask in the glorious roar of Conservative Sir Geoffrey Cox KC. It is quite extraordinary to think that Basingstoke could vote Labour and that Torridge would ever be anything other than True Blue.

Of course, the polls have been telling a similar story for quite a while now, but these visits show that not only do both leaders’ teams believe the polls are about right but also that their own internal polling backs this up.

The odds remain that Cox will retain Torridge and Murphy will fall just short in Basingstoke, but it is quite telling that these sort of seats are the new battleground in UK politics.

Not: Tory social media team

It was a quieter week in the campaign, possibly due to the previous week’s gorging on party manifestos. At this stage in the short campaign, you can often expect confected rows about party adverts or attacks on the leaders’ pre-Westminster histories. But it was a Conservative attack ad that spectacularly backfired that caught the eye of WTWN this week.

The Tory social media team had clearly spent some time and resources on a digital advert focused on a roulette wheel and a classic Conservative warning not to ‘risk it all’ on Labour.

But the timing of the ad’s release on socials was unfortunate as it came the day after it was announced that a second Conservative candidate was under investigation from the Gambling Commission over claims of unlawful betting on the date of the general election. Risky business from the Tories!