Sunday, February 28, 2010

Time To Make Our Minds Up

Today's opinion poll (albeit a bit of an outlier) claiming the Conservative Party's lead over Labour is down to just 2% might seem like bad news for them, but I think it is the kick up the backside they need and also a timely reminder for the remaining apathetic, potential voters that have yet to make up their minds.

Many people have assumed that there's no way Gordon Brown could win the next election. Now they will see there is a real danger of five more years of Labour. My hope is that it will motivate people to look at the real and very serious issues facing this country at the moment. Whether they focus on issues related to the economic crisis, social cohesion, broken democracy, honesty in our government, I am sure most, not wedded to big state socialist ideology, would come to the conclusion that now really is a time for change.

In 2005 I felt that the voters of Britain made a fatal mistake by returning a Labour government that had so clearly been lying, spending too much and achieving too little for eight years. One of the lowest turnouts for a general election ever, pointed to the apathy many felt at the time. Only 61.4 % of those eligible to vote felt it worthwhile, Blair won with just 37% of that vote to the Tories 34%. Although I'm sure Cameron is wishing it were possible for the Tories to win on such a slim lead right now!

So, Blair wasn't popular and most knew you couldn't trust a word Brown said about the economy (or anything else for that matter). His budgets were a running joke with all the double counting and you had to wait a week or more after his speech to actually find out the truth about his plans from the small print and leaks. Although the government was renowned for spin and dishonesty it was sustained in power by the luck of governing during the longest period of global economic growth ever and a seemingly disunited opposition with a lack of charismatic leadership. As a result of Labour's 2005 victory the political establishment lost respect for the electorate. It confirmed to the likes of Brown, Campbell, and McBride that lies and spin would always win the day.

The Tories need to get back to showing the people that they are different. Not just in policy terms but that they are more trustworthy and less likely to lie and cheat their way through their tenure like this lot have. The "airbrushed" poster, while containing a positive policy based message, allowed Labour's spin machine to leap into action and portray Cameron as nothing more than a slick salesman. For me this showed how Labour are more fixated on the image (Cameron's face) than the message (the actual words on the poster), but their campaign was effective and has probably contributed them closing the gap in the polls.

For an opposition party the Tories have put a lot of effort into defining what it is they stand for. Anyone saying they don't know what the Tories stand for or that Cameron is "policy light" needs to start paying attention or stop towing Labour propaganda lines. Their draft manifesto is available on their web site, George Osborne is getting positive reviews for his plans for the economy and while Cameron may well be a better communicator than Gordon Brown that is hardly a reason to criticise him. Labour would do well to start defining it's plans for the next 5 years in as much detail. They, after all, are in government with armies of civil servants at their disposal to do the work at tax payers expense.

But if the Tories really aren't for you that's no reason not to vote. Choose the party best placed to beat the Labour candidate in your constituency. Because, unless Labour lose the next election and lose it big, the whole political establishment would have been right to hold us in contempt as an electorate. No opposition again will attempt to set out its stall in a positive way and our transition to a US model of negative political campaigning will be complete. Labour called their conversion to it in the mid nineties "Clintonisation", that was until Clinton was caught sticking cigars up female interns.

Clintonisation is the very last thing the people of this country need more of. That is unless we really are all just a bunch of pussies.


  1. As a result of Labour's 2005 victory the political establishment lost respect for the electorate. It confirmed to the likes of Brown, Campbell, and McBride that lies and spin would always win the day.

    Oooh, that's an interesting and very tempting thesis. It would be fascinating to actually research that and see if there was a definable shift in MPs' behaviour after 2005.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.