Something nasty – why the Tories aren’t making headway

“I saw something nasty in the woodshed”- Ada Doom, ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons
There is some bafflement in the Tory ranks as to why their party isn’t shooting ahead of Labour in the polls. David Cameron is very popular. People think Ed Miliband is a “muppet”. So why aren’t the Conservatives surging ahead?

Senior Tory supporter and PR firm boss, Paul Bingle, writing yesterday on Total Politics opined:

The Tory Party should be walking this election. Yet they find it difficult to get beyond 35% in the polls and are neck and neck with the Labour Party.

The Conservative consternation was eloquently described by Paul Goodman, writing on ConservativeHome on 29th March:

I’ve long said that the Party won’t win a majority…but will overhaul Labour in the polls sooner or later. The Downing Street Approved line is that this overtaking will be a 1992-scale one, in which a panicked electorate, terrified by the prospect of Miliband and Ed Balls in power, will flock to David Cameron as voters did to John Major – delivering a Conservative majority.

But this breakthrough didn’t come in the New Year. It didn’t come after the Budget. And it hasn’t come after the first major election exposure of Miliband on TV. The forecasts of senior Tories are acquiring a mystical strain. One told me recently that he believes the big swing won’t come until election day itself, thus slipping under the radar of the pollsters altogether. Perhaps I’m wrong, and this will happen. However, it hasn’t yet – and, as we have seen, the Conservatives aren’t in the lead at all.

What’s certain is that if the poll stalemate continues, those Number 10 forecasters will begin to sound more and more like Harold Camping, the American evangelist – who, as readers may remember, predicted that the Rapture would occur on September 6, 1994. When it didn’t come, he revised the date to September 29 and then to October 2 (emerging later to identify March 31 1995, May 21 2011 and October 21 2011).

The dilemma has received the attention of Lord Ashcroft in one of his recent billet doux to me (and thousands of his other subscribers) entitled: Why aren’t the Tories running away with this election? He observed, astutely:

…in the eyes of voters – Cameron has not been able to change the party he leads. People are less likely to say the Tories share their values, stand for fairness or would look after public services like the NHS than when they came into office.

Do these touch-feely things matter? Well, it depends whether you want to win an election or not. The extent of people’s doubts about the Tories’ values and motives explain why the party has been so long confined to the third of voters it can currently muster.

I think the nub of the Tories’ problem is exemplified by their stance on welfare cuts. They have, we are told, plans for £12 billion of welfare cuts. But they won’t tell us what those cuts would be. And then surprise, surprise, their plans are leaked, as the Guardian reports in a piece entitled, Potential Conservative welfare cuts revealed in leaked emails:

A range of welfare benefits are potentially facing the axe or severe restrictions by the Conservatives after the general election, according to emails seen by the BBC.

The cuts suggested by officials include restricting child benefit so it is payable only for the first two children, and scrapping the industrial injuries benefit by passing the costs on to firms.

Emails seen by the BBC suggest that if companies do not have an insurance policy, they will become members of a default scheme and pay a levy to fund it. Axing the industrial injuries compensation scheme could save £1bn.

Restricting child benefit so that none is paid for the third or subsequent children could eventually save £1bn, but only modest amounts initially.

Other proposals aired by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff include a regional benefits cap, taxing disability benefits and reducing eligibility for the carers’ allowance.

So, we have the eternal truth. The Tories cut. It’s what they do. But it seems they can’t get elected while people think they will cut. So, they won’t get elected.

It’s possible that Ed Miliband and Labour will fall foul of the 2015 equivalents of 1992’s Kinnockian “We’re alright!” at the Sheffield rally and “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights” on the Sun front page.

But at the moment, if the Tories want to know why they aren’t romping ahead they need only to look in the mirror.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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32 Comments

  • Bill le Breton 1st Apr '15 - 10:33am
  • Peter Andrews 1st Apr '15 - 10:35am

    So it boils down to the Tories aren’t as popular as they think they should be as they are not trusted not to cut vital services and benefits, quite rightly so

  • Frank Booth 1st Apr '15 - 10:44am

    ‘David Cameron is very popular’ – no he isn’t. Where on earth did you get that idea from? Whilst I agree with much of the article I worry that the Lib Dems seem to think they are a nicer version of the Tories. Vince Cable expressed his frustration at this a while ago. Thatcherism with a human face was once said of John Major, is it what the Lib Dems are now aiming for?

  • I disagree: compared to a few months ago the Cons vote in the polls has moved upwards. They are now close to or at their 2010 General election figure. I suspect that in the last two weeks of the campaign as the public focuses on what government it wants, the Conservatives will be the major beneficiary. That will of course further hit ourselves. This morning the polls report that the Economy is now number one issue, immigration second and the NHS third. Ironically the NHS is the major issue among the voters who have sung vigorously from Lib Dem to Labour.
    Perhaps we should be asking why is our vote so low and one it is not increasing? One reason maybe the apparent dullness of our campaign to date.

  • Philip Rolle 1st Apr '15 - 11:12am

    I agree with the reasons stated in this article. But what of the consequences for Lib Dems? Presumably, with the Conservatives short of 300 but still ahead of Labour, a second coalition is very much on the cards provided The Lib Dems can claw their way to about 30 seats ( which I am almost alone, it would appear, in thinking they might do ).

  • I know appearances shouldn’t matter, but to me the Tories have started the campaign looking tired and unprepared. Their whole campaign seems to be about more cuts in welfare spending, holding a EU referendum and Labours bad for business, The Labour party on the other hand look fresh – Miliband and Balls especially – and with tuition fees, zero hour contracts, mansion tax, etc they have high profile popular policies. The Tories have been neck and neck with Labour in the polls for about 6 mths now, but can’t breakthrough. Their refusal to say where the welfare cuts will be made and their support of zero hour contracts may see their support start to drop away. It’s early days yet, but If Milliband doesn’t make any big mistakes they could yet win this election.

  • Philip Thomas 1st Apr '15 - 11:33am

    @theakes.
    The big question is turnout. Over 15 million registered voters didn’t vote in 2010- more than voted for any individual party. Most of those non-voters are not natural Tory supporters, or natural government supporters. In 2010 those two trends worked against each other. In 2015 the Tories are in government, giving the non-voters a stronger reason for voting. Even a million extra non-Tory voters could make a difference, in the right places.
    No matter whom you vote for, make sure you vote!

  • Philip Thomas 1st Apr '15 - 11:54am

    Consequences: we should not agree to a coalition unless the two parties would have over 325 seats between them. Anything less is too precarious, especially with the Tories, who would have perhaps 10 other MPs who might support them, 9 DUP 1 UKIP,- all of whom would be no help whatsoever in the event of a right-wing Tory rebellion against coalition policy.

  • it much simpler than this. Telling people that they are better off and that the economy is booming is not the same thing people feeling it. It’s like going to a doctor with say back ache and being told not only have is there nothing wrong with your back, but in fact your back as never been healthier in your life. It doesn’t matter if you trust your doctor. If something doesn’t feel true then it isn’t true. You’ve had a very long period where people feel squeezed and some of them have been impoverished. And lets be honest the booming “economy” is loaded on personal debt. Productivity is down, home ownership is down, wages are lower and services are collapsing under the strain of the cuts. I go into my local city centre and I’ve never seen so many homeless people asking for money. This nonsense will collapse very suddenly. just like it always does because personal debt looks like profit on a spread sheet until the debtor stops paying. This is why interest rates are being kept down despite claims of a recovery.

  • Latest Tory ‘bombshell’………100 business leaders sign letter backing the Conservatives …….

    I’d love to know how many of these businesses told us that the introduction of a “Minimum Wage” would be a disaster leading to mass unemployment…I’d also love to know what impact there would have been if these named business leaders had also published details of their wages, tax dealings and salary increases over the last 5 years and whether or not they donate to the Conservative party……perhaps they might also add the salary, wage increases of their lowest paid employees over the same period and how many are on ZHCs…

  • Alex Sabine 1st Apr '15 - 12:51pm

    The so-called ‘crossover moment’ hasn’t happend so far and the fluctuations from poll to poll are still within the margin of error. On vote share it is basically a statistical dead heat, which gives Labour the advantage – though the SNP effect in Scotland might change this picture. I suspect Paul Goodman is right to be sceptical about predictions of a last-minute rally to the Tories, but I’m not sure. It is still a real possibility. The big switch in ’92 happened very late in the day and even the final polls of the campaign did not predict it.

    It would certainly be unwise of the Tories to count on lightning striking twice. But it could happen if floating voters in England decide a Labour government would be too economically risky or recoil at the prospect of a Labour/SNP tie-up; and a large chunk of UKIP supporters vote tactically to avoid a Labour government and/or secure an EU referendum. The odds are against both of these happening on a sufficient scale but equally the uncertainty over the scale of SNP gains (will they win 40-50 seats or will anti-Tory tactical voting cut their tally down to 25-30 in the end?) could be the decisive factor.

  • Malc – miliband and Balls looking fresh … labour election victory … great April fool there!

  • Tory support is simply too concentrated geographically for them to win a majority under FPTP. The writing was on the wall back in 1992 when Major only scrapped a majority despite garnering the highest number of votes ever recorded for a single party in the UK. There are just too many parts of the UK where the Tories are not competitive and haven’t been for decades. Labour’s vote is much more efficiently distributed but with the likely loss of Scotland they too will struggle to get a majority again. It’s a terrible pity that the Cleggites have turned the Lib Dems into a suicide cult just at the point the UK enters an era of multi-polar politics.

  • Andrew R.
    There is some truth in what you’re saying, but really 35% or so of the vote should never be considered a majority under any electoral system. British elections have been unrepresentative for decades. Virtually the first thing any British government does on getting any kind of power is attempt to fiddle with the boundaries so they can turn their declining support into a landslide! This is why I support PR. Personally I don’t think you should be able to claim a majority unless you get at least 50% of the vote,

  • Alex Sabine 1st Apr '15 - 1:37pm

    @ expats
    Indeed, it is a bit ‘dog bites man’ that lots of big business leaders are supporting the Tories. Perhaps your campaign for freedom of information should embrace another interesting question: how many of these business leaders, and any that Labour are able to produce, pushed for the UK to join the euro and warned of the dire consequences of ‘missing the boat’, being sidelined from the top table, swimming against the tide of history, having a backward-looking attachment to the pound sterling and other specious of lazy cliches. Business leaders are as entitled as anyone else to voice their opinions but they are not Messiahs.

    My favourite example of dodgy business advice comes from 1980, when a soaring pound and the emergence of sterling as a ‘petrocurrency’ after North Sea oil came on stream was causing understandable alarm in industry, and among exporters in particular.

    The former Labour trade secretary Edmund Dell recounted in typically dry style in his magisterial book ‘The Chancellors’: “Michael Edwardes, the protectionist chairman of British Leyland – which depended on government money for its survival – provided further useful guidance by declaring that if the government could find no other way of living with North Sea oil, it should be left in the ground. But if the oil was left in the ground, where would the government get the revenue from which to subsidise British Leyland?”

  • Tabman

    “Malc – miliband and Balls looking fresh … labour election victory … great April fool there!”

    It’s all about opinions and at the moment I’ve been surprised how well Labour have started their campaign and how poorly the Tories have theirs. Still a long way to go, but I’m happy so far.

  • Alex Sabine 1st Apr '15 - 1:58pm

    @ Philip
    I agree that the Lib Dems should only consider coalition if the combined number of seats is of the order of 325. But in the event of a smaller combined tally, I doubt a Labour-LD government’s position would be any less precarious than a Tory-LD one. There could easily be a left-wing Labour rebellion (aided and abetted by the smaller parties) against coalition policy… especially if the Lib Cems exercise the ‘moderating’ influence over Labour fiscal profligacy that tell us would be one of their key roles in such a coalition.

    Plenty of left-wing Labour MPs are unhappy with even the Miliband/Balls line on deficit reduction and want, simply, ‘an end to austerity’. The Lib Dem line that they would borrow £70 billion less than Labour would (insofar as this figure is meaningful) presumably be translated into a red line for a tougher fiscal stance? Unless, of course, the Lib Dems don’t really believe their own central claim about Labour’s economic strategy and don’t intend to put a brake on a Labour Chancellor’s borrowing instincts… Personally I prefer to believe that they are being sincere (although I am far from convinced about how they justify this £70 billion figure based on the differences in the parties’ announced fiscal targets).

  • Alex Sabine 1st Apr '15 - 2:02pm

    “…and other species of lazy cliches…”, even

  • Glenn. Indeed at the last election we had 67% of the votes cast for the conservatives yet only 18% of their seat tally.

    I would have been banging on about that from day 1

  • Alex Sabine 1st Apr '15 - 4:33pm

    Glenn:  Agree that there is a distinction between aggregate measures of economic performance (inflation, unemployment, growth rates etc) and people’s direct experience – although usually this disparity is a time lag effect, ultimately there must be some connection between the evolution of macro and micro, the national economy and household finances etc.

    The generally strong economic indicators are not matched by a comparable ‘feel good factor’, although you paint an overly negative picture on that score. The strong growth of business investment indicates business sentiment has improved, while consumer confidence has been rising steadily and is now at its highest level since June 2002. Your description of public services “collapsing under the strain of the cuts” does not seem to be remotely borne out by the public’s experience, as the recent NatCen/British Social Attitudes survey showed: public satisfaction with most key public services, including those like the police that have seen significant budget cuts, has held up remarkably well.

    That is not to deny that people have yet to feel much of the benefit of the recovery in their pockets, but the trend is in the right direction both on household incomes and on surveys of economic confidence. On austerity, opinion polls pretty much throughout this parliament have shown that the public aren’t particularly keen on it (except in the area of working-age welfare) but regard it as necessary.

  • Ashcroft polls today; 7 Cons / Lib Dem marginals and Cambridge. We are just ahead in 3, St Ives, Torbay and North Cornwall, a healthy lead of 9% in Cambridge, just behind in Hallam, further back in St Austell and North Devon.
    Cambourne and Redruth better not talk about that. UKIP vote appears to be generally falling across these seats, problem if that continues and where it will go, probably Conservative.

  • matt (Bristol) 1st Apr '15 - 4:50pm

    I think we need to acknowledge that the public perceives _all_ of the traditional three major parties as having deficiencies that just one election campaign isn’t going to dispel:

    – With the Tories, it is primarily their desire to cut more and harder and the allied suspicion that they instinctively side with the wealthiest and most powerful groups in society, against those who have less of both. Cameron is seen as confident and ‘strong’, but also personifies these negative characteristics.

    – With the LibDems, I would argue that we are perceived as untrustworthy or slippery because of lack of clarity about what our main aims are or were, our preparedness in 2010 to go into coalition with what conventional wisdom had was the unexpected partner, and the unpredictability of whom we may or may not go into coalition with next; we are also suspected as siding with the middle-class clever, glib and the educated, against the ‘straight-forward’, the uneducated or the tongue-tied. Clegg is generally seen as well-meaning yet naieve, yet this too does not cancel out the negative aspects of the party’s perception.

    – With Labour, I’m not sure if there is one single deficiency – for some, they are too left, for others too right, for some too intellectual, for still others they are too simplistic in their anallysis. The idea that they are, therefore, a mess and incompetent (in part a hangover from the Brown era), hangs around them like a cloud. This feeling of ‘wrongness’ is also attached to Miliband — the jibes about ‘the wrong brother’ fit here. Suspicion of being out of touch also lingers, but I don’t think it has twisted itself into any specific caricature yet. The Blair-era feeling that Labour was just a vaguely left-wing incarnation of the establishment ‘political machine’ out for what it can grab hasn’t totally gone away.

    I meet a lot of people of all social classes who – if they are going to vote at all – would vote UKIP or Green but are scared to do so as it is such a departure from what they have traidtionally done, and they also seem recognise that it may be effectively only a wrecking act, a wasting of their vote. Because the EU elections matter less to people, it seemed to be easier to vote for these protest parties last year, than it is now…

    My gut is that Labour can maybe narrowly ‘win’ (in the sense of having most seats) – because they are not as discredited as the Conservatives like to believe, and the Conservative belief that Labour are a busted flush is translating itself into either smugness or impotent anger, which is very unattractive to the public.

  • Alex,
    I’m not keen on surveys and all consumer confidence means to me is more personal debt which has pretty much been fuelling a rapid cycle of recessions since the a least the 80s. Lots and lots of self employed people on low incomes. lots of insecure jobs and lots of borrowing. I’ve no reason to believe this time the end result will be different.

  • David Allen 2nd Apr '15 - 12:20am

    A year or two ago, the universal wisdom was that Labour had an entrenched lead that nothing would shift.

    A month or two ago, the universal wisdom was that the Tories were on course to “crossover” and that nothing could stop them.

    Well, aren’t wise guys fools?

    Personally I gave more credence to the “Tory crossover” theory, simply because Labour are so disorganised and lacklustre. Cameron has shown that I was wrong by being so poor himself.

    The basic Cameron pitch is “Look, ignore our many faults please, and reject Ed Miliband because I would like you to see him as a total nightmare, even worse than us.”

    The basic voter response is “Hmm, well Miliband does look rather pedestrian, but nightmare, no. So, if Cameron is saying I should be terrified enough to vote Tory, well, I’m not. So, er, perhaps I won’t.”

    The only winners look like being the SNP. And what will they do with their win?

  • Alex Sabine 2nd Apr '15 - 3:31am

    matt (Bristol) and David Allen:  I agree with a lot of your analysis above. I am not saying there will be a late crossover to the Tories. I suspect there might be, but on too limited a scale to deliver them a majority. The contest between the Tories and Labour has a ‘stalemate’ feel to it, with lots of insults and claims and counter-claims flying about to no great effect: sound and fury signifying very little.

    On the one hand, the Tories have a clear advantage both on economic competence and on leadership (Cameron v Miliband). Yet they have not convincingly addressed the fundamental problems with their ‘brand’ which their failure to win a majority since 1992 attests to. A clear indicator of this is that, even though public attitudes on a whole range of issues are either closer to them than to Labour (the deficit, economic competence, the EU), or indeed to the ‘right’ of the Tory leadership (welfare, crime, immigration, overseas aid, green taxes), this does not translate into affinity for, or identification with, the Conservative Party.

    The explanation, in my view, is that large numbers of voters mistrust the Tories’ “values and motives”, as Lord Ashcroft put it. The Eton/posh boy image is not the real issue (see the contrast with Boris Johnson’s popularity, even if this is partly a charisma thing). The key problem for the Tories is that it is the settled view of too many people (even including some that might reluctantly vote for them) that the Tories are not “on their side” and do not understand their concerns. This assessment then jostles with the feeling that they are more trustworthy stewards of the nation’s finances and that this will also affect people’s living standards. Many of the reservations about the Tories are less a matter of specific policies and more a matter of gut feeling.

    In opposition, Cameron and Osborne tried to address this longstanding Tory problem with a ‘modernisation’ strategy (which actually led them to some bad misjudgements like supporting Labour spending plans in the years leading up to the crisis). But this was only ever partially successful. It relied too heavily on a ‘cyclical’ swing in political fashion, on projecting a sense of novelty and dynamism in contrast to a Labour government that by then was tired, riven with divisions and ineptly led.

    Some will argue that Cameron and Osborne’s shift to more conventional Tory postures in government is proof that modernisation was always a sham. Perhaps so, but in my view the transformation in the economic climate and fiscal backdrop had a lot to do with it. For quite a while (say late 2005 to late 2007) they had acted as though the central issue in politics, the economy, was no longer central. Once the economic crisis shook that complacency, their message, focus and priorities had to shift, partly because of the looming fiscal train wreck and partly because the mood and concerns of voters also changed.

  • Alex Sabine 2nd Apr '15 - 3:38am

    Moreover, the deeper problem for the Tories was that ‘modernisation’ as conceived by the Notting Hill set (and initiated by Michael Portillo in the late 1990s/early 2000s) did not get to the heart of the reasons why the Tory brand had become toxic. Portillo and co thought it was because of cultural illiberalism, being nasty about single mothers and foreigners and gay people.

    This diagnosis was correct as far as it went, but the bigger problem was on more “kitchen table” issues. They were perceived to be indifferent to the concerns and attitudes of those who lacked their economic advantages and social connections, and insufficiently committed to improving public services (as opposed to seeking limited escape routes for the better-off to go private). Hugging hoodies and putting a solar panel on the roof played well with the ‘metropolitan elite’ but not with the C1 and C2 voters in the wider country whom Mrs Thatcher had connected with, who voted for Tony Blair in 1997 and 2001, and many of whom have since either given up voting or migrated to UKIP.

    From this perspective, I think Paul’s point about public reaction to the Tory welfare plans is half-right. Of course, it is difficult to judge this with any confidence because the Tories have not deigned to tell us what their plans consist of… But, in fact, ideas like reducing the welfare cap and cutting some working-age benefits have fairly widespread support (Peter Kellner has written an interesting piece on public attitudes to welfare in the latest issue of Prospect magazine, with an equally interesting response from David Willetts). Equally, the decision to exempt pensioners from the coming stringency (though unjustified in my view) is probably astute from a purely political/electoral point of view.

    And yet, despite this, I think the overall ‘pitch’ of the Tories on welfare – even where it chimes with public attitudes – grates when coming from them. It adds to a general impression of callousness and aloofness. If the same things were said and done by Labour, I suspect they would impress rather than put off swing voters (though they would alienate Labour’s activists). Likewise UKIP can take populist stances without generating the same impression of feathering their own nests and looking down on the less privileged.

    I think part of the problem is that the Tories lack the kind of clear ‘retail offer’ that Thatcherism offered aspiring skilled workers and others in the 1980s; apparently a proposal floated by IDS to transfer Housing Association property straight to the tenants gratis in return for losing future entitlement to Housing Benefit was thwarted by Cameron and Osborne. Whatever the merits or otherwise of such a policy, it had the potential to make a big political impact like right-to-buy did in the ’80s.

    In addition to the dearth of striking social policies, I think the Tories suffer from the fact that there is nothing ‘counter-intuitive’ about their approach at this election: as with Labour, there is no sign that they are interested in venturing beyond their comfort zone. The jarring reductionist mantra of the ‘long-term economic plan with David Cameron’ versus ‘chaos under Ed Miliband’ cannot disguise the lack of vision. And while it is only natural that they should want to project an optimistic message on the economy, it sounds too much like complacency – like declaring premature victory – to win over unpersuaded voters.

  • Alex Sabine

    Any evidence for your suggestion that —
    “.. C1 and C2 voters in the wider country whom Mrs Thatcher had connected with, who voted for Tony Blair in 1997 and 2001, and many of whom have since either given up voting or migrated to UKIP.”

    My recollection is that most C1 and C2 voters did not in fact connect with (or vote for) Thatcher.
    My recollection is that they thought Blair was exactly the sort of Metropolitan Tosser you seem to dislike.

    I know the myths spun by The Murdoch media tell a different story but then the facts and Murdoch were usually strangers. Journalists working for Murdoch were sent off to invent new facts when he wanted new facts. This is why some of them ended up in prison. And not just those who were close to David Cameron.

  • Alex.
    The thing about welfare is that an awful lot of people claim it. So when the public say they are against adult age benefits they invariably think it is some one else who doesn’t deserve it. If you are on low wages topped up on tax credits why on earth would you vote to be poorer. The Conservative say things but don’t look at the figures. All these small groups of people, carers, the disabled. families on low incomes, people having their rent subsidised also have the vote. So sure if you present the benefits argument as an unemployed man with umpteen kids people will say “this is a disgrace”, But if its them or their parents or a former soldier or whatever they see it differently. The thing that really saves the Conservatives is the fact that people in groups effected by their policies do not vote in sufficient numbers. . The Conservatives for instance leave pensions alone because pensioners vote. Remember that the Conservatives are getting around 33-35% of the vote which is not that far above the number who don’t vote at all

  • matt (Bristol) 2nd Apr '15 - 3:25pm

    Alex,

    I think a mess is just a mess. On politics we as a nation have got ourselves into a mutliple bind – too clever to be naieve, too mournful for a past idealism we have lost to be happy about being clever, and always fearful we are missing out by making a choice for one thing over another.

    I think no-one has any optimism about the future, and no party has any to offer, manufactured or otherwise. All the parties are running negative campaigns focused on the manifold perceived and real deficiencies of the other. The trouble is the nation is left believing at least 75% of all the rhetoric to be true.

    In most elections since 1997 there has been a ‘golden boy’ (or girl) – the leader with the magic touch whom you either loved or loved to hate, but had a relatively clear and emotionally compelling sense of where they and their party were going and would take the country. (I wasn’t voting in 1992 – I don’t know whether Kinnock, Ashdown or Major qualify for that role.) Farage maybe was being fitted for that role, but it’s gone a bit threadbare since last year (good thing, too).

    Alternatively, sometimes there’s been one or two key issues — I genuinely don’t know what the key issue of this election is in the minds of the public, I don’t think there is a single compelling leader or party narrative (and tonight will, I think, prove that).

    It’s the ‘meh!’ election.

  • David Allen 2nd Apr '15 - 4:30pm

    “It’s the ‘meh!’ election.”

    Spot on – Except in Scotland.

    The only people who will emerge with moral authority are the people who want to escape from Westminster politics!

  • matt (Bristol) 2nd Apr '15 - 5:20pm

    “The only people who will emerge with moral authority are the people who want to escape from Westminster politics!”

    Ah, I suppose it might be too late to jump that bandwagon and start a South-Western Devolutionist movement?

    (there did use to be an Isle of Wight separatist party campaigning to formally leave the UK and become a Crown Dependency like the Isle of Man)…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vectis_National_Party

    Sometimes perceived moral authority is a dubious quality if it gives you a blank cheque; and I’m not sure our Northern Irish or Scottish home-ruler brethren will agree with you that the separatists have that, anyway…

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