Elephant in room or clear strategy

Call it the elephant in the room, or a clear strategy by Welsh Labour, but the name of Jeremy Corbyn was conspicuous by its absence at its campaign launch.

You can see why Welsh Labour is trying to differentiate itself from UK Labour, it is credited with helping the party hold on to a number of councils last week, and helped it fight off the Tories in marginal seats in the assembly campaign last year.

But how do you do it in a general election when it would not be Carwyn Jones walking into Downing Street but Jeremy Corbyn?

And then there is the question of how much responsibility the First Minister takes if there is a poor performance.

Headlines

The headline-writers all picked up on the omission, something which Labour must have predicted, and presumably will have been relaxed about because it gets people talking about the differences again.

One former Welsh Labour advisor Cathy Owens tweeted: "Great headline. Differentiation has worked, and has stemmed losses, but more to be done, especially where CLPs have not worked for the votes."

The lack of focus on the UK leader by Welsh Labour stands in complete contrast to the Conservatives who talk about the leadership of Theresa May in just about every other breath.

The Labour pledges also openly switch between devolved (health and education) and non-devolved areas (policing) in the same way that the Conservatives happily mixed the two in the last general election when they spent a lot of time criticising the Welsh NHS.

I recall putting this to the then Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb at the time saying it was at best "misleading" and at worst "disingenuous".

Doorstep

His response was that no-one cares who is directly responsible for particular services, claiming politicians do not get to choose matters that are of importance to the public on the doorstep.

It would appear that mantra has now been accepted by others.

The latest Yougov poll for Wales has made the gap between the Conservatives and Labour narrower, but nevertheless the Tories are still well ahead with 41% on voting intention, and at the very least suggests that the poll that first put them in the top spot was not some kind of rogue outlier.

Having said all of that, the usual health warnings should still apply.

The indication from the latest poll is that the smaller parties are being squeezed.

It is a danger for Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats with so much talk about the leadership qualities of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.

Brexit

One of the areas I would expect them to try to exploit is their Remain credentials if this becomes a Brexit election.

There has been a push from Plaid on the weekend to alter some of the muted response to its local government election results, stressing that it was close to being its best ever performance in a council vote.

To be fair the party has just nudged above the symbolic 200 mark which is enough to put a gloss on matters, but it does not take away from there being no major breakthrough outside of its heartland areas.

Nevertheless, a bullish Adam Price told Sunday Politics Wales that Plaid would beat Labour in Blaenau Gwent and be in very strong contention in Llanelli, Rhondda, Ynys Mon and Ceredigion, on top of its existing three seats.

Now that the decks have been cleared, the general election campaign is in full swing.