Yesterday, David Cameron; today it was Gordon Brown’s turn to kick-off his party’s general election campaign. Contrary to other commentators’ opinions, I think the prime minister’s interview with Andrew Marr this morning was far from a disaster.
I know he was, in general, talking a load of rubbish, but it comes across as believable rubbish. We know the government is not going to half the budget deficit in four years, however, will the British public, who do not know the full extent of the crisis we are facing, realise that? In times of economic doom and gloom, the natural reaction is to look for hope. Brown states he has averted a devastating recession. Small businesses who would have gone out of business are still trading. Home repossessions are down. Unemployment would have been much worse if it was not for Brown. ‘We got it right’, he says, ‘and the Conservatives got every major call wrong.’
Is this is a message of hope? No. But it is a message saying if the other lot were in power, we would all be in a worse position than we are now. Brown went on to talk about fairness, making sure everyone in life has a chance. Does this push the right buttons for a floating voter? Perhaps and considering the Conservative Party has not ‘sealed the deal’ with the voters yet, if I was David Cameron, I would be worried. The electorate mistrust Brown. They want him out of power, but, and it is a big but, they are still not sold on Cameron’s Conservatives.
There is a long way to go before we all cast our votes. We have the prospect of the Leaders’ Debates, which will make a big difference. Perhaps Cameron will seal the deal then. If he doesn’t, I get the impression many people will look at the two main parties and think ‘better the devil you know.’ Worse still for the Conservative Party, they may cast their votes for minor parties and split the vote in key marginal seats, letting Labour in by the back door.
I have said many times before, the only way Cameron can get his party back into power is by being radical. The Conservative Party’s job between now and the election is twofold. It has to convince once and for all that the mess we are in at the moment lies at the feet of Gordon Brown. He has spent and borrowed recklessly. He has increased the size of the client state. If Labour get a fourth term in office, expect more of the same. The country will be bankrupt. Conservatives have to convince the voters under Labour inequality has risen. Education is being micro-managed with devastating effects. Despite spending on the NHS rising, our hospitals are failing. Brown did not offer any public sector reform in his interview today. Instead he reverted to his failsafe option that under a Cameron government there would be vicious cuts.
The Conservative Party’s second job is to convince the voters it has the policies to get Britain back on its feet again. It is not enough for David Cameron not to be Gordon Brown. For Cameron to become prime minister with a good working majority, he needs to prove he has what it takes. This is what he is failing on and as for policies, we can only hope the first part of the manifesto published tomorrow will give us some idea. I know what the vision is. I know what the party is not going to do. I also know some of the things the party will do, but I don’t know enough and more importantly neither do the voters.
The Conservative Party should be soaring in the polls. It is not. If Cameron cannot connect with the voters between now and the election, my view is we will have a minority Conservative government where nothing much is going to get done. This will not be in the best interests of the country.