Tuesday 6 April 2010

And they're off....

This is a really important election.

But somehow I find it hard to get excited. That's partly because I'm worried about the Tories losing - in the same way that I am writing this rather then watching Arsenal vs Barcelona: I superstitiously feel they'll lose if I watch. And partly because I fear this will be a very poor campaign very poorly reported on. So I haven't been hooked on the media all day.

But I caught sight of Gordon Brown's trip from Downing St to St Pancras, where he was catching a train to somewhere suitably deproved in Kent. The motorcade was filmed by helicopter and it struck me how depressing it would be to be followed by helicopters for the next four and a half weeks. His procession through St Pancras was very strange - they took a circuitous route, being applauded by various passers-by. They also missed out the champagne bar. Something seemed odd - but it took a blogger rather than the commentators to explain that the supportive crowds had in fact been bussed in and were Labour supporters who had previously been leafleting at nearby stations.

And later, I heard the soundbites from Brown and Cameron's opening remarks. Brown's were bland - I forget them - but I winced at Cameron's second or third sentence: something like we'll stop another five years of Gordon Brown.

Now, I don't like Brown. I think he was a disastrous Chancellor who has left the UK with a morass of regulation, the world's largest tax code, a massive debt burden, an inefficient public sector, a destroyed pension system and an ineffective system of financial regulation - never mind ensuring that the armed forces suffered through a lack of funding despite him supporting wars beyond our capability. As a Prime Minister he was weak, ineffective and vindictive. As a person, I think he is deeply uncaring of everything except his own position. I don't want him to be Prime Minister any more.

BUT... I already support the Conservatives. I know the positive reasons to vote Conservative. I know the positive reasons to oppose Labour. Cameron's negative sentence chimes a chord with me. But it won't with many people who either haven't seen through Brown yet, or who genuinely believe he is a decent man doing his best, or who are uncertain about which way to vote. Cameron must say why people should vote Conservative - small state, protect the economy etc. I think he can set out what's gone wrong - but he mustn't focus on it.

We had a "meet the candidate" (the Conservative one of course) event in a local village recently. It was not that well attended, but it was a Friday evening. Nevertheless a few Lib-Dems as well as Conservatives came along, and Anne-Marie, our candidate, made some useful comments and I hoped impressed them. We then asked for questions: and they were dominated by negativity. Why weren't the Conservatives bashing Brown and Labour more? And so on. I tried to point out that such an approach would appeal to the core support only, and would be irrelevant to the vast majority of voters. But I don't think I got through.

I hope Cameron rises above his opening remarks.

By the way, Arsenal lost.

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