Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Too early for Mrs Cameron to be measuring the curtains at No.10


It will be an extraordinary reversal of fortune if the Tories fail to achieve the largest number of Parliamentary seats at the General Election, which is widely expected to be held on May 6th. But Conservative leader David Cameron and his team will only have themselves to blame if there is a hung Parliament, which allows Labour to cling to power with the aid of the LibDems.
The present Government's authority has expired - the product of a lethal cocktail of the moribund UK economy, the MPs expenses scandal, and the conning of the public that has already been revealed by the Iraq inquiry.
But Cameron cannot be certain he is headed to take up residence at Number 10 Downing Street.
According to opinion polls the Tory lead over Labour is narrowing when it might have expected a comfortable lead so close to the election. You don’t have to look far for the reasons.
The Tories do not look ready for Government. Shadow Chancellor George Osborne mouths platitudes, the rest of the Shadow Cabinet are nonentities, which leaves Cameron as the party’s main asset. This seems to have been recognised in the recently launched – and ridiculed – poster campaign, which focussed on his airbrushed mug. It smacked of the presidential-style politics he has accused Labour and deserved the attention of online satirists. (see above)
The man’s privileged background isn't a bar to becoming Prime Minister – as Labour would have it. The only question is his fitness for the job.
The one stretch of clear blue water between the parties was how to balance the need to tackle Britain's debt mountain without driving us into a double-dip recession. The Tories pledged to tighten the screw on public spending this year, while Brown insisted it was too early to do so.
But the Tories made a U-turn on this policy suggesting cuts will be modest this year after all. Its focus groups and private polling must have suggested that putting the wind up the electorate wasn’t a vote winner. No surprise there then.
But with the dividing line blurred, it's no wonder that Tory support is waning in the country. Cameron and Osborne continue to spout mission statements when proper policies are called for.
Come polling day I still think there will be sufficient numbers appalled by the prospect of another five years of Gordon Brown to see the Conservatives returned with the largest number of seats. However the result will not be clear-cut.
If so, it will underline how spineless were those Labour Cabinet ministers who bottled the chance last year to challenge Brown's leadership. With the Tories in something like disarray, a new Labour leader followed by a swift election might have avoided the coming deadlock.

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