LIKE PREVIOUS general elections, this campaign is following a familiar pattern – Tory Ministers are at their most comfortable when talking about Labour policies and vice-versa.
This negativity was self-evident at the CBI’s annual conference when Boris Johnson only became animated in his speech to business leaders when he was ridiculing Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.
And while Mr Corbyn was more at ease when offering a critique of Tory plans, he rarely, if ever, resorts to personal attacks – a stance that others would be advised to replicate.
Given this, the stakes are high when both men square off in tonight’s head-to-head leaders’ debate on ITV – the first major setpiece event of this election campaign.
The challenge for both men is to prove their leadership credentials at a time when so many people are disillusioned with politics, and politicians per se, because of Parliament’s handling of Brexit.
As such, the onus should be on both the Prime Minister – and Labour leader – to make a positive case for their policy prospectus without resorting to the insults, and obfuscation, that now defines such exchanges in the House of Commons.
As well as providing reassurances about the economic credibility of their plans, and their handling of national security matters, they also need to prove that they can relate to voters – the people that matter most – and begin to unite the country following five years of Brexit uncertainty since David Cameron, the then PM, held out the promise of a referendum on EU membership. The consequence? Five years of division and discord that has harmed the economy and which still threatens to tear apart the bonds of the United Kingdom depending on the election outcome and impact of Brexit in, specifically, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In short, it is a time for statecraft and statesmanship to emerge, starting tonight.