#Election 2017 has been notable for the length of time the parties have had to prepare.

Even before the introduction of fixed term parliaments, the British usually had a good idea when a General Election would happen many months before it was called. This gave the parties plenty of time to draw up their manifestos.

Manifesto choices

Not this time. Since Prime Minister Theresa May surprised even her closest colleagues by announcing on April 18th that the country would cast its collective vote on june 8th, politicians have been busy trying to decide what will get them elected.

Or, in some cases, avoid electoral annihilation.

While Labour’s plans to renationalise the railways and the water industry have seen them accused of living in the past, May’s Conservatives have been focussing on issues likely to be of more pressing concern to voters.

No, not Brexit, which has become less of a political talking point since the election was called. Unless you happen to be Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who is calling for a second referendum to tell us if the nation is happy with the outcome of the negotiations. He’s yet to properly explain what would happen if the country said `No’ to an exit deal that had been agreed with the EU. It’s academic in any case as there’s no level of Lib Dem success that would see them getting anywhere near power with Theresa May in Downing Street.

For May, one of the keys to the election is that part of the population she refers to as `Just About Managing’. It’s phrase that has peppered her speeches in recent months, although not quite as much as `Strong and Stable’, which even she must be tired of hearing.

Those `Just About Managing’, or the JAMS, are the folk who earn enough to get by, but no more.

They earn too much to qualify for state benefits, but too little to have the sort of disposable income they would like.

No party can hope to appeal to the entire electorate, but this group feels increasingly side-lined by all politicians. Mrs May, already seemingly on route to a crushing victory on June 8th, wants them to feel loved.

Mortgage Woes

It’s little wonder. New figures from L&C Mortgages suggest that 1.4 million UK households are struggling to pay their mortgage, and 2.6 million people think their payments are too high.

Meanwhile the Resolution Foundation believes that even the slightly better off aren’t facing a rosy economic future, with a prediction that incomes among the richest third of working-age households will rise by just 4 percent (after inflation) over the next four years. Less well off families, it says, can’t event expect this modest increase.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s those on the bottom end of the income scale who are `Just About Managing’. The Resolution Foundation says these are households where at last one person is working and could be bringing in as much as £50,000.

L&C calculates that 2.5 million households have made significant cuts in their spending in order to afford their mortgage payments.

David Hollingworth from L&C Mortgages said: “The fact that people have been making cuts in order to cover mortgage payments indicates how people feel they are ‘just about managing’ in many aspects of their lives.”

While many in the political classes may tie themselves in knots over which policies will grab them the biggest share of the vote, most voters have their minds on matters close to home. Big issues like immigration, the future of the NHS or indeed Brexit may be debated endlessly, but most people are worried about the amount of cash they have at the end of the week.

As someone famously said, “It’s about the economy, stupid”.