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Kent University politics expert Laura Sudulich says well-funded Tories wasted advantage

By Gazette reporter

This election will be studied for years to come by political analysts and journalists, says a senior lecturer at Kent University in Canterbury.

Laura Sudulich, senior lecturer in Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations, says the word "catastrophic" is being used to describe the Tory campaign and will become a "Pavlovian association" with the 2017 battle.

Students at the university are being credited with having a significant influence on the astonishing win by Rosie Duffield in defeating the Tory MP of 30 years Sir Julian Brazier, but Dr Sudulich believes the Labour performance was rooted in Jeremy Corbyn's hugely effective ground operation.

She said the outcome demonstrated the campaigns were "not rhetorical exercises".

Sir Julian Brazier who lost his seat. Picture: Chris Davey
Sir Julian Brazier who lost his seat. Picture: Chris Davey

"What was expected to be the plainest campaign in recent British history unfolded as one of the most engaging forms of voters ‘mobilisation’," she said.

"Theresa May called the election for June 8in search for a mandate leading to stability and consensus. She enjoyed the first mover advantage, taking other parties by surprise and relied on what looked at the time like a rock solid majority in the polls."

Despite the huge difference in donations to the two major parties the Tories wasted their considerable financial advantage, she argued.

Laura Sudulich
Laura Sudulich

"It did not capitalize on any on those advantages. On the contrary, the word catastrophic is been used multiple times last night and it is likely to become a Pavlovian association to the Tory campaign 2017.

"How did this happen? Academics, commentators and journalists will debate, study and publish endlessly on matter in the years to come, but one thing will be uncontested: the campaign mattered.

Counters get another pile of ballot papers to count. Picture: Gary Browne/KM Group
Counters get another pile of ballot papers to count. Picture: Gary Browne/KM Group

"Both party leaders ran a marathon campaign: May concentrated her visits in marginal seats while Corbyn visited marginal constituencies as much as safe Labour and did not shy away from safe Tory seats. While the former seems a more efficient use of time, a 360-degree presence on the ground brings direct and indirect returns.

"First, holding rallies in safe seats galvanises sympathisers, crystalises consensus and mobilise the base. The energy boost spills over constituency boundaries.

"Secondly, any form of leader’s activity on the ground attracts media attention, once again beyond constituency borders.

"Theresa May only engaged on the ground. She failed by not appearing in the leaders debate, scoring an unprecedented own goal.

"Campaigns deliver messages and the message delivered by the Prime Minister was unconvincing. On the contrary, Jeremy Corbyn demonstrated not only to be a good orator to his own crowds, but also a convincing debater at away games."

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