Yesterday I watched Prime Ministers Question Time at the gym. It is the first time I've bothered to watch it for months. I would suggest that everyone who is interested in how the next election is shaping up should do the same. By the end of the show, I was completely convinced that David Cameron will lead the Conservatives to an outright victory at the next election. The biggest mistake anyone with an interest in politics can make is to bury their heads in the sand. For the past two years, Ed Milliband has had a fair political wind. The economy has been a shipwreck and the numbers have been appalling. The credit ratings agencies downgraded the economy and George Osborne has had the demeanour of the president of the flat earth society.
It was bound to happen and it has. The economy has picked up. In all likelyhood, there is only one way this will go and that is up. By the time of the election in 2015, accidents apart, we will have had two years of sound economic growth. George Osborne will have cash in the kitty and the prophets of doom will be faced down. As if that scenario is bad enough for Labour, from what I saw yesterday, they will be lead by a man who is not up to the job. Ed Milliband was awful. I've never seen Ed Milliband be good on TV, Radio or in the Commons, but when the economic figures were dire, he was able to be less bad than Cameron.
Yesterday I watched Cameron and I realised that his great strength is that he is a cheerful affable chap, who presents good news very well. In the past when figures have been bad, he has been wooden, almost like a rabbit in the headlights, descending into techyness. Yesterday I saw a new Cameron, confident, strident and brimming with cheerfulness. For the last couple of years, Labour has blamed everything on Osborne. By the same logic, as the Tories will beat endlessly, if things are good, Osborne must be doing a fine job.
Labour are faced with a massive problem in responding to the new political landscape. There strategy of the last two years is in tatters. Everyone knows what they are against, but as Cameron pointed out yesterday, they have not said a single word about what they would do. I believe that this has been a mistake. My work writing this blog has taught me a few things. The major lesson has been that you can change peoples voting habits, when you convince them that something is unjust. In Barnet, tens of thousands of staunch Tory voters deserted the party to vote for Andrew Dismore at the GLA elections because they felt deeply aggrieved by the unfair parking policies of Brian Coleman. Many voted Dismore for GLA and Boris for Mayor. I don't believe that the British public like injustice. I believe Labour has failed to capitalise on this, choosing instead to campaign on all manner of issues that are subject to changes in economic wind direction.
Watching Milliband ask question after question, which Cameron easily swatted back by saying "The economy is brilliant and it's all my work", it should have been obvious to anyone that a change of direction is needed. The fact that Milliband can't think on his feet to do this, calls into question his leadership. David Cameron came to power saying that the NHS was safe in his hands. There are clearly major issues with this. Healthcare is one area where Labour retain far more confidence than the Tories. The system is in chaos, yet Labour say nothing. As to the education system, many children were starting at new schools. Tory Ideology has seen a plethora of "free schools" spring up, set up by well heeled parents in affluent areas. At the same time, tens of thousands of pupils are starting at totally inappropriate schools. Why no mention of this? Then there is transport. Train fares have risen massively over the last few years. Has your commute got better? The only thing which matches the rise has been the rise in profits for the private companies. Why the whole caboodle has not been nationalised, I know not. We have seen several cases where private companies hand back franchises because they are not making profits. In all cases, service has improved and the taxpayer has been better off when run by the state. Then there is the state of care for the elderly, the handicapped and the vulnerable. Anyone who's life is affected by the requirement for care, knows that this is becoming ever more precarious and stressful. Surely a civilised country shouldn't tolerate this. The chosen method of attack for Labour is to highlight "bankers bonuses". I find this strategy to be stupid and know it is doomed to failure. The reason is that whilst some bank bonuses are scandalous, they are not the only sector to get all manner of financial rewards way beyond their worth to the economy. As I mentioned above, shareholders of non performing train companies do rather well, as do their directors. The governors of the BBC do rather well at our expense. The CEO's and executives of local authorities do rather well at our expense. Then consider Council Tax. The current system means that the more your house is worth, the less the relative cost of Council Tax. I believe that residents of the smallest house in Barnet should pay the same percentage of value of their house as the richest. Who would sympathise with a billionaire, when he complains that he has to pay the same rate of council tax as the bloke who empties his dustbin. In this country, property taxes are unique in that the richer you are, the lower the percentage you pay. Given that they are the easiest to collect, this is scandalous.
The sad truth is that Labour isn't interested in fighting these battles. From what I could see, they were still basing their strategy on a failing economy. If Labour are serious about winning the next election, they need a new leader and a new strategy. As far as I am concerned, one which is interested in fairness would be a good place to start. If they don't, we'll have a Conservative government returned in 2015. This will not be a coalition, as the Lib Dems will be wiped out. Whatever you may think of the Lib Dems, they have taken many of the most jagged edges of the right wing Tory policies. Anyone who believes a Tory administration would be fairer than the coalition is deluded. I would predict that there are a whole raft of Uber Right wing policies lurking in Camerons briefcase, for the day when he can wave adios to Clegg and his merry men.
I don't belong to any political party. I doubt I ever will again. What I do know is this. If I was a Tory I'd be very happy right now. If I was a Labourite, I'd be thoroughly depressed. If I was a Lib Dem I'd be suicidal. And UKIP? Well they are the protest vote for disaffected Tories. If the economy continues to pick up, they are likely to look like a tad stupid.