Friday, May 04, 2007

A political Somme

It's apparent from the results in so far that Labour has not done as badly as expected, the Tories have not done as well as expected and the Lib Dems haven't done as well as hoped. At least that's the impression I get from the BBC.

I did stay up till quite late watching the Beeb's election coverage which - leaving aside the inane and often absurd graphics used by Jeremy Vine - was exceedingly trite. From very early on, it was clear that the Beeb had very little interest in the English local government elections and that their focus was on the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly - and the upcoming coronation of Gordon Brown as PM by Labour.

Even so, you'd think they'd put some thought into wondering why the Lib Dems had done so badly (make no mistake, they did very badly). The only thing that crossed their mind was that the electorate don't like Ming Campbell - nothing else could be the reason as far as the Beeb were concerned. What they actually mean is that the Beeb don't like Campbell who is both too old, too traditional and too fuddy duddy for the Nu Labour luvvies of the Beeb. It's a problem that Gordon Brown will face too.

My own opinion on why Labour didn't do as bad as expected, the Tories didn't do as well and the Lib Dems were hopeless is just as simple, but - I hope - more accurate. The fact is that all three parties now fight over the same narrow piece of ground and that tiny piece of ground is the one occupied by the Lib Dems.

Essentially, our politics is no longer about winning the hearts and minds of a large group of people through clear policies and by strong arguments - it is about winning the votes of a narrow selection of the electorate. The lefties vote Labour and always do -doesn't matter who leads them or what the policies are. The right wingers vote Conservative and always do - doesn't matter who leads them or what their policies are. The waverers are the target - sometimes they'll vote Labour, sometimes Conservative, sometimes Lib Dem. They don't have any deep held beliefs. Their views and opinions are likely to shift from one day to the next. They are the ones who are most likely to be influenced by who is saying something rather than what they are saying. These are the people who put presentation over substance and fall for all the spin. These are the people the parties now fight over.

This is why their policies are all pretty much of a muchness - and why politics in Britain has become like the trench warfare of WW1. A tiny piece of political ground that is being bombarded remorselessly by all sides with exactly the same tactics and weapons. Little progress is made by any of them, but millions are suffering while they fight over this tiny strip of mud.

No comments: