Is Boris playing it too cool with his oven-ready Brexit strategy?

Brexit ice sculpture

We’ve had a few icy blasts this week. First, the temperature dropped and we’ve had several mornings where we’ve had to de-ice our cars. If you look at the weather maps it is clear that the cold weather is across Europe. So, once we have left the EU we’ll get more control over our weather. It’s so obvious.

Meanwhile, Boris was too busy (doing nothing) to attend the Channel 4 debate with other party leaders. He was replaced by a melting ice sculpture as a symbol to the damage the environment is doing to the ice caps.

The third icy blast came in the form of a YouGov survey which uses different methods to standard polls. The poll used the same methods as in the YouGov poll which accurately predicted a hung parliament in 2017 – much against the prevailing opinion polls at the time. The latest poll puts the Tories comfortably ahead with a 68 seat majority, meaning they will “Get Brexit Done”.

Except there are some differences worth noting. The YouGov poll in 2017 was completed just five days ahead of the election. This one was done about 16 days ahead, so there is plenty of time for things to change. Boris, though, is betting that his cool stance will mean that even if that 68 seat majority melts away, he’ll still have something of a majority left.

The Tory manifesto is “steady as it goes”. Boris is being kept away from TV studios as much as possible because it means that the number of inevitable gaffes can be kept to a minimum. Indeed, all of the mean nasties from the Cabinet have been noticeable by their absence in the campaign. It’s a clear indication that they know the country doesn’t like them and that a parliamentary majority that is within their grasp would disappear if these objectional politicians were in the forefront.

It appears from all the fact-checking sites that even though the Tory campaign is riddled with lies, people are prepared to vote for the Conservatives because they will end dither and delay. The problem with this is that an ice-cool campaign means that the oven isn’t ready to warm up Brexit. People will be bitterly disappointed when it all becomes clear that “Get Brexit Done” means “Let’s Continue Talking About Brexit For Ten Years”.

Of course, I might be completely unfair here. It would appear that there are some good things in the Tory manifesto. After all, they are planning to plant 30 million trees every year for the entirety of the next parliament. That, though, is an environmental policy of arrogance. Just as leaving the EU and “regaining control” suggests that this tiny island can survive economically without co-operation, the Tory environmental policy is the same. It seemingly believes that Britain can solve the environmental crisis all on its own. Plant a few trees, make some random promises about what will happen in 2050 and then it will all be fine. No obvious realisation that the environment is global and therefore change will require cooperation. “We’re British, we can solve it.”

So, why am I picking on the ice-cool Tories this week? Because their campaign is calculated to be cool, to avoid us seeing what they are really doing. All those debates about nursing numbers this week? All the discussion about melting ice? All the chatter about interviews with Andrew Neil? Those things are deliberate tactics. They stop anyone talking about the Tory policies at the same time as preventing the other parties from being able to gain editorial space to get their ideas aired.

These are the tactics of public school bully boys. Perhaps we should let them cool off for a while.