General election 2019: With less than a week to go, what's changed?

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Getty Images

In lots of ways this is a complicated election.

Derbyshire is not the same as Dundee, Birmingham is not the same as Bangor.

Westminster sure isn't the same as Widnes - and London, maybe above all else, isn't the same as Linlithgow, Leeds or Ludlow.

There are a multitude of contenders as well - not just the traditional parties, but the SNP and Plaid Cymru, the Brexit Party, what remains of the Independent Group for Change, moveable tribes of party defectors and a clutch of independents as well.

But as we enter the last seven days of this election, in our first-past-the-post system, whether you believe it is the best or the worst of all worlds, the choice irrevocably, and inevitably perhaps, moves towards the two big teams - the reds and the blues, and the two big, flawed, characters of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.

At the start of this campaign we talked here about how, in a strange way, they are an odd couple who share some traits.

And on the trail that has been shown, again and again, to be the case.

Kid gloves

Boris Johnson fascinates some people, who are desperate to shake his hand, eager as children when there are free sweets on offer.

But for others he is simply not someone they can trust, who they may even back, but will fill in their ballots wearing kid gloves.

As one voter in Cardiff told me last week, she had backed Labour all her life, but then had voted Leave, so will now back Boris Johnson, having flirted with the idea of voting for the Brexit Party.

She had this parting shot: "I hope he's not lying."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boris Johnson delivers a speech to factory workers in the Midlands

None of our campaign journeys have provided scientific evidence of the Conservatives cruising to an enthusiastic majority.

Seeing Jeremy Corbyn on the trail, there is no doubting how much the party members who turn up to Labour's organised election events believe in him.

Core messages

They talk of "the movement", of big change coming. He is greeted by smaller crowds, perhaps, than in 2017, but by big Labour audiences nonetheless, delighted to see him and sing along to the now-familiar, "Oh Jeremy Corbyn" chorus.

But Labour candidates talk privately, again and again, of how his perceived unpopularity among many traditional voters is the block to a Labour majority.

But the enthusiasm for Boris Johnson, where it exists, is more jaded than during the referendum of 2016.

Likewise, the delight at Jeremy Corbyn is dimmed compared with the crowds that we saw greet him in 2017.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn at a Labour rally in Birmingham

One man today told me, with tears gathering in the corner of his eyes, that he was so cross about this election because he believed that it had to happen because politicians have made such a mess of the last few years, and obviously upset that the choices were limited in his view, to a decision between two men, neither of whom he trusts.

As we enter the final week of this campaign though, we will see from the two main protagonists a repetition of their core messages, rather than a grand invitation to inspire.

Public spending squeeze

For the Tories that will be - yes, you guessed it - to resolve Brexit, to remove the biggest question mark that's been hanging over British politics for three years now.

Not, of course, what the world will look like after the trade deal that could be done with Brussels (or not) - but whether we actually leave or not.

And for Labour, it will be punching at the bruises that nearly a decade of a squeeze on public spending has created.

There are of course many other issues that might and will raise their heads in the time that's left.

It's of course extremely hard to read how the national polls and sentiment on the ground will translate into the final numbers.

But - unless something very strange happens in the next seven days - those pretty stable party positions are likely to result in the Conservatives being the biggest party, but not necessarily clearing the hurdle that will see them returning to government with a majority.

And unlike the deeply dramatic election and referendum campaigns we have seen in the past few years, perhaps - just whisper it - in the run-up to this particular polling day, nothing has changed.

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