Kate McCann on the big issues this general election

As the general election approaches, Times Radio will visit communities across the country to discover and highlight the concerns and opinions of voters.

That’s why I spoke to Kate McCann, Times Radio’s political editor, to discover her thoughts on the general election.

I started by asking McCann what she thought the main issues would be that would decide this election.

She explained: “For a lot of people, the most important thing is the NHS.

“It’s the biggest thing that comes up and the thing that most people talk about when you ask them what they’re voting for.

“It also tops the YouGov tracker of the most important issues.”

Despite the NHS being at the foremost of many people’s minds, McCann posited that the public make their minds up based on a feeling.

She said: “I think the feeling in this election is that a lot of people are just a bit fed up, and they feel like things are not really working that well for them.

“So, they may well choose to vote for something different. I think the big question is how different is the alternative?”

John Pienaar and Kate McCann (Credit: Times Radio)

For McCann, one recent party pledge which surprised her was Rishi Sunak’s call to instate a national service.

She felt the policy came out of the blue and surprised most people.

She said: “What is really interesting about national service is it tells us that the Tories are going for a core vote strategy.

“They’re appealing to the people who they think will continue to vote for them and they’re not being that ambitious because a lot of people don’t like that policy.

“National service has not shifted the polls in the Tories favour, so it hasn’t necessarily worked out well for them.”

McCann also noted that many people felt the Conservatives and Labour were becoming more and more similar in some of their views.

She said: “Labour have recently signed up to the Tories plans on Trident, they’ve signed up to a lot of the Conservatives proposals or existing plans on the NHS.

“There are some areas of difference as well as things Labour would like to do differently such as scrapping the Rwanda policy but that in terms of general themes, I don’t think there’s that much between the two of them.”

When asked about what we can expect from party manifestos, McCann brought up social care and noted that it is an area which needs to be fixed but that both Labour and the Conservatives are stuck on.

She said: “Everyone knows it needs to be fixed and it’s hugely emotive.

“It’s very expensive and it’s very, very hard and none of the parties really want to talk about it.

“They’ve talked about it in terms of dealing with staffing or dealing with immigration and they know that to talk about a fundamental reform which is what it needs would be so expensive.”

We then spoke about the leaders themselves, Rishi Sunak and Kier Starmer, and touched on their personalities and how they might be viewed by the public.

When it came to the leaders themselves, Rishi Sunak and Kier Starmer, McCann noted how effective they both were in understanding and communicating detailed information.

However, this expertise was not something that translated to personal appeal.

She said: “They’re not very good at connecting with the public, they’re just not very personable for different reasons.”

“They are the type of people that focus a lot on facts and numbers and that is how their brains work.

“Sunak is an economist and likes numbers, Starmer is a lawyer.

“Their whole careers are based on facts and proving facts, this doesn’t make you a bad politician necessarily but it might not make you the best leader.”

When asked about the Liberal Democrats, McCann argued their leader Ed Davey’s main strategy appears to focus on not getting forgotten by the electorate.

She said: “Hence the jumping into water and getting his picture on the front pages.

“I did ask a Liberal Democrat strategist about this and said that he’s in all the papers, but people weren’t taking him seriously, so why would you do it?

“They said it’s not about being taken seriously, we just need people to not forget that we exist.

“So, if that’s the ambition, then he’s achieving it.”

I asked McCann what she made of the left-wing Labour party candidates who are no longer standing and whether this could alienate some Labour voters.

She argued it could be helpful to Starmer, as it would underline his attempts to prove the party had changed since the Corbyn days.

She said: “Some people won’t like it, but I think more people will probably hear that and be reassured, and they’re really the people that matter.

“Labour went for the left wing, and it wasn’t enough to win an election.

“Now they need to appeal much more broadly.”

The upcoming seven-party BBC election debate will be full of party clashes and for McCann, the main clashes will be character-based.

She said: “Immigration and the NHS will be big issues but also character and whether or not a leader is going to be good enough for the country.

“Also, people’s records in terms of what the parties have done and whether other leaders think they’ve let people down.

I think you’ll get a lot of that character-based stuff in the debate, you always do on TV.”

Finally, I asked McCann if she felt that the Conservatives still had a shot of winning the election.

She replied: “No, and I don’t know any Conservatives that think that they could win it still.”

Kate will be touring with the Times Radio bus to find out what people think ahead of the election. You can listen to Times Radio’s election coverage and keep up to date on the bus schedule on X.

Feature Image: PA

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