Monday, 11 January 2010

Stuck in the middle - UK General Election 2010

By next June the Labour Government under Gordon Brown has to call a General Election in the UK. My vote has helped keep Labour in office ever since Brown's predecessor Tony Blair swept into Downing Street in 1997. I am already convinced nothing in the coming election campaign could persuade me to vote Labour again under the party's present leadership. The rebellion last week by two ex-ministers tantamount to an attempt to remove Brown failed from the off and, in any case, came much too late.

The British people were lied to about the real reason our government supported the invasion of Iraq - a desire to 'brown-nose' George Bush. But instead we were fed flimsy evidence about WMDs. As for Afghanistan after years of risking British troops' lives only now are our soldiers receiving the equipment and helicopter support they need. Brown himself boasted about the light-touch regulation that made the City of London an international financial powerhouse. So he cannot avoid responsibility when the tripartite system he created - the Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Services Authority - were exposed as not fit for service in the banking crisis. The economic growth Britain enjoyed under Brown as Chancellor was built on cheap money and soaring house prices. We are now left with an unparalleled debt burden. The government allowed the MPs expenses scandal to fester until it could no longer remain secret any longer. Perhaps most damaging of all to Britain's future is the way our educational system has failed our children. Despite all the initiatives too many are still joining the labour market with poor literacy and numeracy skills. All this said the prospect of David Cameron leading the Conservatives into government is not an inspiring one. The prospect of a cabinet filled by inexperienced ex-public schoolboys is depressing. But he is still to make his case to the British people, which is why the proposed television debates between the party leaders will be so closely followed. Brown's platform will be "don't let the Tories ruin the recovery." It might have washed had David Milliband & Co dumped their leader in the summer but it is now too late. It looks pretty certain the Tories will form the next government either with a small overall majority or as the biggest party in a hung Parliament. Either way Britain is unlikely to have to wait another five years for another General Election. The intervening period would give the Tories the opportunity to prove they really are fit for office.

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