Into the last lap
Another day, another disastrous poll – in the Sun this time. This Government has gone toxic. The Conservatives, on the other hand, look better and better. Now, I am obviously biased on this, but for most of the last, oh, 12 years or so the Tories have looked as though they lacked a theme. Why did they want to get into power? So that they would be the Government. That was more or less the raison d’etre for New Labour, but they were buoyed into victory by the tide of sleaze and weariness that annihilated John Major.
It has been Labour’s response to the recession that has given the Tories a new force behind their desire to get into power. Funnily enough, even if there had been no recession and we were muddling along much as we were in the spring of 2008, I suspect that the Tories would have won the election. Labour, like the Tories in ’97 is too shop-soiled and too weary to deserve another go. But the recession, and crucially the Labour approach to combating it that was revealed in the budget, has given the Tories a purpose.
Labour has no intention of seriously trying to get the accounts back in balance. It’s only deadline is the next election, and its only aim is to limit the scale of its defeat. Spending will not be cut, and taxes will not be raised (except symbolically on ‘the rich’). It’s only plan is to stagger on to the finishing line, where it can pass the whole mess on to the Tories, in the hope that, in dealing with the mess the Tories will make themselves so unpopular that Labour can return.
As a result, the Tories have a motivation for victory that is more respectable than mere lust for power – someone has to fix this mess. I suspect that this is now filtering through to the electorate. If this were a case of general disgust with politics and politicians, one would expect to see the Lib Dems profiting – and they aren’t. Gordon Brown’s team thought they were onto a winner with the theme that serious times call for serious people. The problem is that Labour under Brown has become so fundamentally unserious.