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Cameron Destroys Opposition
The last time we had such a major upset in any national elections was when everyone thought Neil Kinnock was going to be crowned King in 1992. I remember the hysteria at the time when in presidential style Kinnock toured the country, verging on celebrating a victory even before the first vote had been cast. Well history repeats itself but in a slightly different incarnation. Every single pollster was predicting a hung parliament with many permutations for a potential coalition government. However within minutes of the polls closing at 10 pm on 7th May, I received a special call telling me the Conservatives had won and that I might want to go to bed rather than stay awake waiting for each result to come through. I of course stayed awake since I wanted to gauge what commentators and politicians would make of this incredible news. Commentator after commentator dismissed the exit polls stating that the multiple polls in the run up could not all be wrong. There was logic to their argument except for their understanding of the human psyche. I had been saying to a lot of people that all the commentators had missed three crucial factors. First that there were many Tory voters who were shy about disclosing their allegiance. The second, that the moment before putting that cross on the ballot paper many voters will take a deep breath and say, ‘I can’t trust Labour’. And therein we have the answer to why this became one of the most thrilling elections of the modern era. There is a third reason also, one that has been missed by many in the media, that being the way in which Lynton Crosby and his team targeted specific seats and turned so many of them to blue. They blindsided Labour with extraordinary finesse. Of course the chant of ‘vote Labour and get SNP’ had an impact also.
The problem for Labour started when they elected Ed Miliband as their leader. They knew it, and so did the general public. In the years he was in charge, Labour went from one crisis to another. Every time they got close to assuring the public that they understood finances, one of the two Ed’s would put their foot in it and destroy their credibility. Forgetting to mention the deficit in one of his major speeches was not just a lapse, it was confirmation that when it came to the big issues, Ed’s radar was not working. When as leader you attempt to divide and rule by coining the phrase, ‘predator and producer’, it took Labour back to its bad old days. When you then add to this mixture the power of the Unions within Labour, it all got just too much for Joe Public.
Ed and his front bench made the biggest mistake in thinking that old Labour was still relevant to the future of this nation. Vacating the middle ground that Tony Blair high-jacked from the Tories and the Liberal Democrats was a monumental error of judgement. Labour went in this election not with a wish to win on merit, or on policies or on a vision for the country – it was on a 35% core vote strategy. And what happened to that? He barely managed to cross the 30% threshold.
Will Labour learn the lessons? There is no evidence to suggest that either they get the message, or they have anyone in their ranks like a ‘Tony Blair’ who can command not only loyalty, but also put forward a groundbreaking vision of what Labour needs to look like for the 21st Century. They face difficulties in selecting their next leader. Whilst the rules for selection have changed, in my view I am not sure they will curtail the power of the Unions. Chukha Umana comes across as a decent chap hovering around the centre ground, the very space Labour needs to command if they are to govern again. However even before he got started, he chucked in the towel and withdrew from the leadership contest. I don’t buy into the excuses he is giving and get the feeling there is a lot more to come out, watch this space.
The Labour Party is in a bad way. Until they find their soul, their purpose in the 21st Century, they may hark to the bad old days of the 70’s and Michael Foot. Should that happen then one cannot see how Labour will come back to power for at least a decade, and maybe even longer.
The Conservatives ran their narrative from 2010 onwards. They decided on the agenda for the 2015 election and whilst everyone was chasing shadows, David Cameron and Lynton Crosby remained relatively calm. They knew that when it came to putting that cross on the ballot paper people will get nervous about Labour and there should be a last minute surge to them. However as days went by the surge did not take place. Poll after poll declared a close run election. However I can disclose to you now that I was informed by a key person in the Tory ranks some two weeks before the election that they would win with a majority. Everyone had underestimated the fact that the shy Tory would emerge on the day, and that many others would change allegiance as they realise Labour was not the answer. Add to that the specific targeting of certain seats and you end up with 37%. The number the Tories had been working on right from the start.
Whilst the Tory majority is only 12, the impact of the win on Labour is not too dissimilar to what Tony Blair inflicted on the Tories in 1997. This win has ripped the heart out of Labour leaving it in total disarray. It has enhanced David Cameron’s position significantly. After all he can claim he won the election and produced the first Tory majority government since the 1990’s.
For my part I am glad about the result since a Tory government under the stewardship of David Cameron is rooted to the centre, is pro-India and pro-dharmic communities. The Tories may yet become the party of the people as long as they stay in the centre and allow the aspirations of people to be realised.