Sunday, May 02, 2010

General election 2010: The sobering up has started

For a long time, since John Major defeated Neil Kinnock against the expectation of the polls, I have had a theory about the last few days of a general election campaign.

I call it the sobering up period.

General elections allow national debates to happen in a way that is impossible at any other time of year. Outside general elections debates take place as bombardments from fixed positions, each side firing its artillery at the other. But in general elections ground changes hands, the unexpected happens, theory about which approach will triumph over another is put to the test and the results seen in the court of public opinion.

In this election it started with the artillery, and it was just as boring as politics had been before. But then the sudden breakthrough of Cleggmania meant that infantry had to be redeployed. An ignored enemy had to be reconnoitered by the other two and tactics to engage them tried and effected.

Initially attacks on Cleggs character were tried, based on fact from his career in politics, but then the tactic that really yielded results turned out to be using the lack of the public knowledge of Lib Dem policies against Clegg by revealing them ! The public didn't appreciate that the Lib Dems wanted to replace Trident with some fuzzing uncosted unthought out alternative - they thought Nick had gone CND. The public hadn't heard of the Lib Dem immigration amnesty - but they have now and they hate it. The public hadn't realised what a disaster the UEro was for heavily indebted nations, but that's to providence they can see that in Greece today - and Cl€gg can't squirm his way out of his EUphoria.

So here's a set of stages that outside a general election could hav taken years to work their way through the public consciousness.

And now for the killer fact. We are broke - and yes Gordon Brown broke us.

Up to now the true horror of what has happened has been hidden from most people. Yes some people lost their jobs, many shops closed, but it didn't seem like the 70's or 80's. Perhaps it would never happen thought the wishful thinking public. After all New Labour's great genius was to suggest you don't need to chose between fiscal responsibility and salving your conscience with handing out govt cash - they suggested you could do both. It turned out to be funded on private, and then public debt, but it felt great whilst it lasted.

Now the public are angry that no one will tell them what will happen after the election. The argument between the Lib Dems/Labour who want one more year on the credit card, and the Tories who argue its time to start the hard work now in case things get worse, doesn't even make the airwaves at this stage of the election. The parties have almost started to compete for who can name the most cuts they have planned. ( The public can't avoid responsibility for this as Matthew Parris explains well in his Times article today ).

The final sobering up is starting. People realise this general election will have consequences for decades to come.

Vote for the Lib Dems and they will ensure a weak government more concerned about ensuring future jobs for Lib Dem activists that helping the country.

Vote Labour and the country will sink under debt and the IMF will be called in.

Vote Conservative and it will hurt. But the patient may be saved.

We now know we can't go on like this, and the vast majority of the country now realises this.

But only one party said this at the start of the general election campaign and that's the party you should trust with your vote.

The flights of fancy and intoxication of the X-Factor part of the election are over. Its time to sober up, face up to facts and save our nation.

Welcome to the sobering up phase of the election.

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