Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Straws in the wind
Judging by sentiment on the "street" – certainly up here in darkest Yorkshire – the latest headline in The Guardian is almost laughable, on a par with the climate hysterics trying to tell us that the planet is still warming up.
It is difficult to put any other construction on a headline which tells us that, "Labour still has slim chance of winning next election, poll suggests," with a finding that, "Wavering Conservative and Liberal Democrat supporters may switch if economy is recovering by May 2010". In this neck of the woods, Mr Brown has as much chance of attracting popular support as the Pope has of becoming Chief Rabbi.
On the other hand … our constituency, way back – 1989 as I recall – was a Labour marginal, but is now solid Labour. There is no Tory presence worth talking about, and the seat is almost certain to stay with Labour. The only significant electoral moves in the area have come from BNP, which is slowly making gains.
Thus, one cannot help but observe – as many others are doing – that a Conservative opposition which is faced with a government party in self-destruct mode should be scoring much higher in the polls than it is currently, showing only a modest 12-point lead over Labour.
No matter how you to try to cut it, therefore, it has to be recognised that the Tories have failed to inspire any great enthusiasm – although with the general election still over a year to go, it would be madness even to begin attempting to extrapolate from this or any other series of polls. The best one can say is that the mood is volatile, and thus hard to predict.
Nevertheless, we would suggest that our own thesis does much to explain the relatively lacklustre performance of the Tories. Look at their website, look at any of the claque of Tory blogs and you will see an introverted party that is obsessed with "self".
Looking at the predominant themes on this blog, we place a high priority on such issues such as the EU (predictably), defence, energy, climate hysteria, foreign policy, immigration (although we treat it with care) and a few others. On none of these, it is fair to say, do the Tories seem to have any coherent position. On some (actually, most), they seem to hold stances diametrically opposed to ours, even though we would regard ourselves as natural Conservative supporters.
We, like so many other people, therefore, are in a very strange situation. The national mood is hostile to Labour but votors are not yet prepared to buy into Dave's Conservative Party. Once the election draws closer, people will have to come off the fence and make a choice, and – despite The Guardian's frenetic optimism - it seems that Dave will prevail.
All the signs are, though, that it will not be an enthusiastic affirmative – a clear mandate for a new leader. Rather, it will be a sullen, even resentful recognition that this is the best the political classes have to offer. That does not bode well for the nation, nor even the political classes.
Tolerance is already wearing thin and, while this poll may be a straw in the wind, the election could be a different straw – the one that finally breaks the camel's back of an electorate that has lost patience with the entire political system.