It’s been pointed out to me that I have only talked about this constituency. I suppose it is natural for a candidate to concentrate on what’s going on in his own patch but here are some thoughts.
If the polls are correct, then Labour’s time in government is coming to an end and David Cameron will become Prime Minister of a majority or minority administration.
Gordon Brown will be leaving Number 10 almost exactly three years after he got the job. You may recall he got praise at first for how he handled the floods and terrorist attacks leading to early election speculation – but since then it has been one long disaster zone as the government tried to wrestle with the recession, the expenses and other scandals, and consistent leadership coup attempts. Bailing out the banks could be argued as a good move but then not using this newly acquired muscle to force changes was a mistake.
Where will Labour go now? There’s no shortage of leadership candidates but who will manage to catch the public imagination in 2014 or 2015? Alan Johnson and David Miliband appear to be the favourites with Ed Balls, Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband also talked about. But in which direction will they take the party? Old Labour has gone. New Labour has now run its time. What’s next? Second hand Labour?
No such problems with the Conservatives, they have always been consistent. They are sponsored by the rich, backed by the rich, and will always look after the rich. The working classes will be kept in their place. Margaret Thatcher and John Major both came from humble backgrounds – by the time they had finished even more people were coming from humble backgrounds.
In 1979, the last time the Conservatives came to power in a recession, the first budget cut taxes for the very top earners, increased VAT for the rest of us, and slashed public spending. As a result, unemployment rocketed and for most of the 1980s was at a far higher level than is now. Industries nationwide were wiped out, a generation of young people were wasted, and massive social problems hit the country.
It really concerns me that the Conservative party plan to do all that again – and the social unrest we all saw will be repeated. One difference this time is the rise of the BNP. People will feel that politicians have let them down again and may well turn to extremist options.
The only hope is if the Liberal Democrats can make enough progress to deny the Conservatives a majority or at least a working majority and to somehow get in the reforms we really need. However I think the Conservatives will rule with a minority if they have to, and make deals with others on a case-by-case basis. There will be over 30 MPs from other parties, the Speaker and Deputies don’t vote and Sinn Fein won’t turn up so they could muddle through.
One of the biggest disappointments in this campaign has been the Daily Telegraph. Last year they did very well in exposing the expenses scandal, produced an excellent book on the topic, and did their reputation a power of good. You would hope they would go to the next step to promote methods to ensure this sort of thing won’t happen again.
But instead the Telegraph have declined rapidly to pathetic attempts to smear Nick Clegg, scare everyone about hung parliaments, and are now aiming to deny us the necessary parliamentary reforms. Nothing will change. A shame.
That’s my thoughts so far. After the election, once we see the results, I will tell you what I think about the Liberal Democrat campaign, those of the smaller parties, and about how we developed our own strategy here in Sittingbourne and Sheppey.