In most previous general election campaigns the Tories have seen the economy as one of their trump cards but Theresa May downplayed the issue in last year's contest. Photo credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

January 2, 2018   < 1

This time last year, BritainThinks asked 100 representative UK voters to keep diaries for three months, recording their views about Brexit, unprompted, whenever a thought occurred to them. The most striking insight was how few ever mentioned the economy.

A few months later, the conventional wisdom that ‘it’s the economy, stupid’, was challenged in the General Election campaign. It was the dog that didn’t bark, ignored by campaigners and media alike – perhaps because they made the assumption that Corbyn’s Labour would be trounced. Again, BritainThinks’ research found that the economy rarely featured in voters’ spontaneous comments.

In the past, politicians have worked very hard to establish their economic credentials. They had to, because, in the past, economic credibility mattered much, much more than anything else in a party or leader: it was a rare election where the winning party was less trusted to run the economy.

Now, the question of politicians’ economic competency remains under-reported with media attention diverted elsewhere. The economy continues to be low on voters’ priorities. Yet many commentators presume that this will be the issue that disqualifies Corbyn from No10 Downing Street. However, if economic debate continues to be absent from the political centre stage, and the media scrutiny that accompanies it, all bets are off.


Introduction to this Under-reported series.

Summary guide to all under-reported articles in this series.

Deborah is the Founding Partner of the insight and strategy consultancy, Britain Thinks.