Thursday, 1 June 2017

A Week Can Still Be A Long Time in Politics



It tends to be forgotten now, but the Tories campaign in 2015 was pretty awful that time too. David Cameron had to be told to get out there and sound like he cared and was fighting to win. This campaign has been worse for reasons that are not difficult to identify: the polls were predicting that the Tories were coasting to an easy win. Chauncey was dismissed as hopeless and hapless. Theresa May, though estimable in many ways and a good minister and latterly Prime Minister, is a terrible campaigner who does not come across well on TV or in person. Her pitch is that she is a no-nonsense figure who will be the person we need in the difficult days ahead. This remains true. But first she has to win. Since she is such a lousy campaigner perhaps she would have been more sensible to share the burden of campaigning with those who are better at it. Where is Boris? Where is David Davis? Amber Rudd also showed herself last night to be a pretty feisty performer given that the whole room was ranged against her.

At the last election, only two years ago, it was not the Sun wot won it for the Tories. It was the SNP. Or rather it was the prospect of the SNP entering coalition or some kind of arrangement with Labour that persuaded England to vote in large numbers for the Tories.

This time around there is much to be said for making the same argument. Labour are intent upon hitting middle England and in particular London and the South East with huge and punitive taxes, including the successor to the mansion tax, which will penalise property ownership and those with gardens. Labour intend to hit the middle classes hard. They would do so with votes from the SNP and their so called 'progressive alliance.' This is what they call the politics of envy and class war these days.

This is said to be an election about Brexit and so it is. But, like all elections, it really comes down to the economy. Brexit is the icing on that particular cake. We can make a success of Brexit for sure. But we absolutely cannot make a success of it if the negotiations are conducted by Labour with the SNP looking over their shoulders and holding them to ransom on every line of the agreement. Not that Chauncey can be trusted to conduct negotiations anyway. He would be a pushover, not least because he has already given away his negotiating position. He would not take no for an answer when it comes to the single market. Thus Britain will not be leaving the EU at all if he is doing our negotiating for us.

And then there is the issue of immigration. Once again the Labour leader has an extreme position far away from the instincts of the British people. It is not racist to want to control immigration. It is common sense in a country that has public services under pressure. Labour are intent upon bringing in a ruinously expensive £10 minimum wage that would see a big increase in unemployment. It would also serve as a massive draw for immigration from around the world, including Europe. Labour, even though they have tried to stay silent on the subject, would erect no barriers at all to unlimited immigration and would take down those we have. There would be a free-for-all. This was more or less the policy of Labour when in power the last time around. It would be again.

It is said that the Tories are abandoning their strategy of attacking Chauncey for his past extremist positions and his dislike of so much that this country stands for. I'm not sure if this approach is right. It doesn't matter that there are many people who seem to be impressed by his genial demeanour. That has always been true of the man. It's what he says that gives the real impression of him. And what he does. Abandoning this pitch now is as mistaken as was the idea to try and win votes with a complacent pitch to the young and the working class. Why are political parties so keen to abandon their core voters so easily? The Tories are about low taxes, low regulation, business friendly government. That is a perfectly respectable, economically sound and successful approach that happens to accord with the evidence and the instincts of this broadly conservative nation. Why apologise for it?

Still this remains an election about Brexit and on the economy. On that Labour are on weak ground as ever. As we enter this final week it is these issues that need to be hammered repeatedly. The IRA support and his friends in Hamas are for now a side issue. Although we won't think that in 8 days time if he wins.

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