So the gun has gone off and there is a General Election coming. At present I think that there is a need for some sort of volcanic eruption in British politics, something dramatic enough to shift the political crisis as well as have competent management of the economic crisis. This would suit a situation like where Blair was ready in 1997, voted for by the many because he was not quite of his party and having had a few victories over it and secured his leadership. The Conservatives had gone on for five years more than they should have, and through economic difficulties, and people all around the country needed to kick them out by whoever was second to them in each constituency.
Yet there is no magnetism towards David Cameron. He is this marketing type character and no one knows whether he or the anti-gravitas George Osborne could run anything. The Conservatives have said they've changed, but it is not at all clear whether they have. He has maintained a fairly moderate line on some matters, and seems to be pro-public services (but not public ownership of the services), and we don't know if the need to cut the public deficit could lead to the Toryisms of cut and slash in many areas. And he is basically hostile to the European Union, and the moderate right parties therein, if not hostile enough for the Europhobes.
Another aspect is that no one doubts Brown's ability to do the job, nor is he making a bad shot at the phoney election campaign so far. He has successfully put doubt on the Conservatives' decision making stability, and has to some degree shown himself as nurse of a recession (as well as being one of those who let the credit rip when he said, "No more boom and bust." Yet there is the sense in which he is played out, and even if he can work all hours of day and night his 'team' look clapped out and exhausted with no momentum. In any case Brown has lost middle class and core support.
I just don't think there is that magnet to the Conservatives that matches the need for the volcano. This is why - along with people dumping the expenses fiddlers - anything could happen at this election. A few years back I feared that the Liberal Democrats could be squeezed between Labour and Conservative. Now with the three way debates and the expenses furore, and the 'team' that the Liberal Democrats have, that they could be the upsetters of the political landscape. It would take quite some will in some places for this to happen, but it could happen, especially if the Liberal Democrats approach to 'fairness' is seen as right in these economic times - fair for the rich who can cope and more redistributive than Labour for the poor.
We need some political drama. I live in a Labour Conservative marginal, but I'm prepared to go for the Liberal Democrats here precisely to facilitate that big change, that upset that politics needs to renew itself. We need freshness into the body politic, and a parliament either with no overall control or even a big surprise Liberal Democrat breakthrough would be one to negotiate large scale political change, such as the voting system and removing the hereditary element in the House of Lords, and subsidiarity across the communities of Britain.
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