Monday, May 03, 2010

The doors have it

Within my own little circle of political activists, there is but one thought. We wish it was Thursday evening - that it was all over and we could see the worst. At this late stage, it is clear – as it always was – that none of the politicians are going to come out with anything new, anything that they haven't said a thousand times before, which makes election news an exercise in applied tedium.

This will make for an interesting time in the near future when whoever gets the hot seat will have to explain to a sceptical British public why it is they are insisting on a course of action which they did not even mention in the election campaign.

For the time being, though, watching paint dry is that much more interesting. Actually, in my case it's beeswax. So depressing have I found this campaign that I've taken the opportunity to re-wax the timber doors in the house, a useful antidote to climbing up the wall. As therapy, I can thoroughly recommend it.

Trying to read the runes, there is that sense that the electorate is ready to run to mummy – i.e., that there are hints that, in their anxiety to get rid of Brown, the voters will revert to type and go for the traditional alternative, the next biggest party ... the one currently pretending to be Conservatives.

But there are all sorts of factors that could confuse the issue, not least that the bulk of the postal votes went in at the height of Cleggomania, before any change of mood became evident.

If there is that change, clearly The Boy has got wind of it, as he has been casting caution aside, spelling out some of the measures he would take once in government. But this could be a slow motion Sheffield, in the style of Kinnock, and a volatile electorate could punish him for his presumption.

That apart, it would be rash to predict any outcome at all, even if I seem to have called Greece right. The Independent leads with "collapse deferred", noting the words of Greece's finance ministers, who called his country's decision, a choice "between collapse and salvation".

In that, the Greeks are relatively fortunate - at least they have a clear choice, even if the outcome of either option is unpalatable. By contrast, in the UK this Thursday, the choice for the majority of voters is anything by clear. But they do have in common with the Greek people the certainty that the outcome will also be unpalatable.

One small consolation we might take is the view expressed in The Guardian which cuts across the triumphalism of the media folk. If Brown loses the election, it will not be because he "lost" the TV debates – it will be because people simply didn't like him.

And if Cameron wins, it will only be because they disliked him less than they dislike Brown. That is certainly the case with Peter Hitchens who begs and pleads with his readers: "not to fall for the shimmering, greasy, cynical fraud which is the Cameron project." That is not a good start for a new prime minister. Polishing doors would be much more fun.