Saturday, May 01, 2010

It is still not clear who is going to win. It is clear, though, that Gordon is going to lose

In my Journal column today I'm calling the 2010 general election against Gordon Brown and Labour. Not an easy one for me to write for reasons I make clear in the text.

Here it is in full.

Thirteen years ago, on John Major’s last Saturday in 10 Downing Street, I wrote in my pre-election column that the over-riding factor when people cast their votes would be the desire for change.

Politics tends to go in cycles, and so this election, too, is likely to see the curtain fall for a Prime Minister who now seems ready to leave the stage.

For all the talk of “Cleggmania” and “Duffygate” altering the dynamics of the contest over the past three weeks, the key dynamic – the desire for a new beginning - has been in place from the start.

It is still not clear who is going to win on Thursday. It is, though, becoming clear that Gordon Brown is going to lose.

It’s not easy for me to have to write that. I continue to believe that Mr Brown could have been a perfectly good Prime Minister had he got the chance to be one at a time when his party as a whole was still riding high.

I also believe that history will judge him far more kindly than his contemporaries have done, and that the actions he has taken with regard to the recession will, in time, be vindicated.

But once the country began to tire of New Labour, it was always going to be a big ask for a man who has been so close to the centre of power for so long to successfully represent change.

The party’s core campaign message – “don’t risk the recovery” – has been an essentially defensive operation in a situation which cried out instead for vision.

The Gillian Duffy incident in Rochdale this week – which could have happened to any of the three party leaders – only put the seal on Mr Brown’s already fading prospects.

The real significance of it was not that he views the voters with contempt – he doesn’t – but the fact that he thought the initial exchange had been a “disaster.”

It wasn’t - Mrs Duffy had actually promised to vote Labour. But Mr Brown thought it was a “disaster” because he has lost both his self-confidence, and his ability to judge political situations.

His inability to make any inroads in the polling that followed Thursday’s final TV debate shows the public has by and large made up its mind about him, and they won’t change it now.

So, then, Clegg or Cameron? Well, I won’t dwell at length on the potential hazards for the North-East that may result from an outright Conservative victory.

Mr Cameron’s comments last weekend, suggesting the region receives too much public money, probably tell you all you need to know, however hard he later tried to row back from them.

Irrespective of that, I have argued previously that both Britain and the North-East need a balanced Parliament, for two reasons.

Firstly because the Tories cannot be trusted to govern on their own. Secondly, because this must be the last election fought on a bent electoral system which could yet produce a result on Friday that is beyond parody.

All along, the polls have suggested it will happen, but that may yet change as minds are concentrated over the remaining few days of the campaign.

The outcome that would probably best reflect the mood of the country at the moment is a Lib-Con coalition – but that can only happen, of course, if Mr Cameron puts electoral reform on the table.

If he does not, the likeliest scenario is a minority Conservative administration and – joy of joys! – a re-run of all this in a few months’ time as Prime Minster Cameron seeks a working majority.

One thing will be different next time though. Mr Brown will not be there.

free web site hit counter


Swebedo said...

Why is it an election against Gordon? It seems to me that it is an election against indifference and self-servitude. Gordon is party apparatchik and a fish out of water. He mixes the pragmatism of good economic management with the works of Marx and Engels: like oil and water they do not mix, and when made into a salad do not remain usable for very long. The salad dressing is going off and we are seeing the difference between the politically-correct new age Marxist that Brown is trying to portray as the ring-kissing apparatchik to the the Unions, and the steely economic spreadsheet mechanic of a bloke that he really is underneath. The only common factor between the two is the complete lack of soul and spirituality that is common to bean-counters and Marxists alike.

Anonymous said...

"Firstly because the Tories cannot be trusted to govern on their own."

Who says? I certainly don't. I would far sooner have a strong Conservative Government which will be able to make the very difficult decisions the country needs without having to pander to the self-interested policies of the LibDems.

I hope Labour comes third and the LibDems become the alternative Party of Government. This Labour Government has been a disaster for the country and they should never again be given the opportunity to wreck the economy. But the LibDems needs to be the Opposition for at least 2 Parliaments, so they can develop some coherent policies ... at the moment they are like Janus - they face two ways.

Stephen Rouse said...

"...a strong Conservative Government which will be able to make the very difficult decisions the country needs...".

You might have a point, if the Conservative had actually spelt out what these difficult decisions will be. Instead, we have this bizarre manifesto in which we are all apparently going to run community pubs and posts offices together in some Postman Pat-style idyll.

"...the self-interested policies of the LibDems."
Conservative self-interest is presumably much preferable? Inheritance tax breaks for the richest handful. Non-progressive tax increases including VAT (yes we know they "have no plans to" but we're not falling for that one again). And, as Cameron has let slip, the axe falling first on those regions and nations of the UK which have the temerity not to vote for him.

OK, the other parties have been equally reticent about where the pain might fall. All we can go on is past history. And the Tories do have 'previous' when it comes to throwing entire generations and regions onto the scrapheap. That's why they cannot be trusted.