What do you think of the campaign so far?

In what is supposed to be the era of all conquering spin, has it struck you how completely crap are the speeches, slogans and media opportunities in this election campaign? Even before we turn to the quality of “debate”. Great to see that the BBC have the guts to run Have I Got News for You? through the election. I’m just listening to the gentle piss-taking analysis in a Clive Anderson show on Radio 4 called The Heckler ( not up yet on iPlayer)>. With self consciousness like this reaching new heights, real communication is near impossible. I think of Obama type rallies and dismiss the thought. No Obama is around. Mind you, oldies like me fondly remember Harold Wilson in the Birmingham Bull Ring. He was pretty good, carefully timing his heckling replies for the moment the live cameras came on to him in the News. The handlers wouldn’t dare risk that these days. In The Heckler the popular philosopher Alain de Botton has just blamed us voters for putting the pols in an impossible dilemma: to be special and solve all problems on the stump, and at the same time to pretend to be even more ordinary than we are. Behind the phoney debates, tactical manoeuvring is as big an issue in that other election over where you are.To stop the Tories running away with it, Labour and Lib Dems have to fight each other but not too hard. Andrew Adonis’s plea for a Lib Lab pact is not hard to understand, just as is Nick Clegg’s rebuff to avoid a squeeze. Vince Cable has the personal authority to mount the sort of ferocious attack New Labour with its pro -business history can’t afford to make but would love to, on “ nauseating” Big Business for slamming the National Insurance hike. The call for a Treasury of National Unity is electioneering in the same vein and strengthens the Lib Dem’s position for serious influence in a hung parliament. But with whom in No 10? I can’t see the Lib Dem’s risking support for a minority Labour government unless it’s a photo finish. Even then the psychology is problematical. If Labour loses its majority after 13 years the pressure to give the other guys a chance is all but irresistible. Tory instincts over cuts chime with Vince’s appalling frankness on the same theme. Meanwhile BBC Economics Editor Stephanie Flanders has been to Dublin to raise the spectre of what cuts really mean. Her report puts all that nonsense about £12 billion spending cuts alongside tiny tax breaks in perspective.

(Brian Lenihan) thinks the UK is probably expecting too much from the fall in the pound, and he thinks that whoever wins the next election will almost certainly have to cut popular benefits.

Stephanie referred to Brian’s pancreatic cancer and watching the interview, his bravery and composure after so many months of heavy pressure was very impressive.

  • Marcionite

    At the risk of sounding metaphysical, for the first time since I followed politics in 1979 at the tender age of 8, this I’d the first UK election which has a feeling of twilight and death about it. It’s an election without hope. Something tells me that this will be one of the last post war elections as we know them. People are jaded to a degree the country has never witnessed since universal suffrage. Independant MPs are not the answer, they are the political equivalent of a constituency in sulk. Look at Kevin Deeny, how many hospital closures has he stopped? Zero. No part of government, no mandate other than pork barrellism. The UK to elect a tranche of Healey Rays would be retrograde to the nation

    the only solution would be a constitutional convention where the US model would be employed. This way, the executive are non political but held to account by the egislature. There is no need for Minister of Health to be a politician. He/ she de facto carry out the policies of the PM.

    This way, the pool of executive talent and independance of mind can be drawn from the nation as opposed to just a narrow pool of 350 MPs.

    Back to main point, the ennui of this campaign is dangerous

  • Greenflag

    Simon Hoggart gets it about right in the Guardian

    “Both parties resemble shipwrecked sailors, adrift in an open boat, arguing about which cabin boy to eat first.”

  • LabourNIman

    My name tell you where my allegiance lays. However, I agree that there will be no great sense of achievement in the nation come 7th May.

    The only wish I have is that the Lib Dems don’t get to impose their minority, selfish views on the rest of the uk.

  • Garza

    [quote]The only wish I have is that the Lib Dems don’t get to impose their minority, selfish views on the rest of the uk.[/quote]

    Minority? A recent poll put them 5 points behind labour.

  • Michaelhenry

    labour gets no votes in the six counties labourniman, they would get the same number even if they did stand at the next election or the one after that or……..

  • LabourNIman

    Michaelhenry – keep telling yourself that. Thanks for sharing your views.

    Garza – if their polices were so attractive then they would be in government. It won’t happen, and so should a coalition be formed their views will be imposed on the majority.

  • Garza

    [quote]It won’t happen, and so should a coalition be formed their views will be imposed on the majority.[/quote]

    The exact same could be said about the Labour government of the last 5 years….what did they get 36% of the vote?

    You know as well as I do with our system of government, lib dems are going to find it very hard to get into government, even they get the most votes that doesn’t even guarantee them opposition status.

    Lib Dems have slowly over the years been clawing votes and seats, it would be stupid to discount them or say they are unfit to rule. Like I said, one poll puts them 5 points behind labour.

  • LabourNIman

    Garza – I don’t discount them at all, in fact I think my party can learn a few things from their policies.

    However, their electoral reform plan is pure there to accommodate them getting more seats through PR. It has nothing to do with democracy.

  • Greenflag


    ‘ the first UK election which has a feeling of twilight and death about it.’

    Not surprising given the worldwide economic backdrop and not particular to the UK but a trend everywhere .

    ‘ It’s an election without hope.’

    The UK and the USA and even the Republic to a much lesser extent placed all their electoral eggs in the basket of ‘financial services’ as the prime mover of the new ‘age’ of globalisation. London would again become the world capital of ‘capital’. -Frankfurt , Shanghai , New York etc would fade behind into also ran places and ditto for the policy makers in New York who saw London coming up second to Wall St.

    Meanwhile the great mass of Americans and Britons saw their old industries depart for the newer workshops of the world leaving industrial wastelands behind them and economies that proffered the ‘services’ sector as the new replacement for manufactories as the latter was a replacement for the labour intensive agriculture of an earlier era.

    ‘where the US model would be employed’

    The UK has it’s problems but when all is said and done the election will be over come May 7th . In the USA ‘electioneering ‘ never seems to cease . And the evidence from ‘national economic performance ‘ and by a wide variety of social , educational and health comparisons seems to be that the USA is even ‘worse ‘ governed than the UK or any of the major european countries bar perhaps Italy.

    Electing a tranche of Healy Raes to the Commons would I agree be retrograde -nice juxtaposition that tranche and Healy Rae -tranche being the preferred them for the uber secure collectivised debt obligations so much favoured by the ‘professional ‘ management elites of Wall St prior to the meltdown of ‘expert ‘ wisdom in both finance and governance which has left the USA in an even worse state than the UK with even greater implications for the the world economy.

    The words ‘held to account by the legislature ‘ are all very well in theory and on occasion they may have some beneficial impact for the electorates of western democracies. But when the legislatures (particularly in the USA) are so obviously in the pockets of the large financial corporations and the energy and health insurance private corporations then any notion of being held to account will remain just that a notion .

    Just look at what Obama has had to contend with in his efforts at major reform -Not just the political opposition but the large section of his own party who have been ’embedded’ in the financial sector by credit card companies , banks , private health insurance companies etc etc .

    No I don’t believe the UK has anything to learn from the USA at least in the arts of political governance .

    As of now it’s looking very much like the UK will have a ‘hung’ parliament which in itself may be no bad thing for the longer term even if it creates some ‘headaches’ post election . If ‘tactical’ voting by Labour voters in marginal constituencies denies the Tories an overall majority by raising the number of Liberal MPs then Clegg may have the numbers to push for PR which would open up the two party option to which Britons have been restricted for the past 60? years .

    ‘the pool of executive talent and independance of mind can be drawn from the nation as opposed to just a narrow pool of 350 MPs.’

    You might think that Marcionite but Sir Nigel Humphreys of the famed ‘Yes Minister series ‘would not agree -neither would Richard Crossman of the ‘Diaries’.

  • Garza

    [quote]labour gets no votes in the six counties labourniman, they would get the same number even if they did stand at the next election or the one after that or…….. [/quote]

    MichaelHenry, I would def consider giving Labour my vote when they run here.

  • Michaelhenry

    you would just consider it garza, but you would not do it, i keep thinking of the p.l.o every time i see your name garza.

  • Garza

    Yeah liberate Palestine!

    My vote would be between Labour and the Tories in the election next year, have to see their manifesto though first. If the Lib Dems ran, I would consider them too.

    I certainly won’t be voting DUP, Alliance, TUV or even UUP in the assembly elections, unless the UUP/Tory pact goes local – which i cant see it doing at the minute.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Mr Walker,
    In a word …..lack lustre.
    Of course the actual unofficial campaign has been going on for months. And I was out of the country when the Official Campaign actually started.
    As a person of almost similar vintage to your good self, a reflection of my political anorak credibility is that I was interested in elections long before my first vote as an 18 yr old in 1970.

    The sheer excitement of those Radio Times pull out sections (or Guardian) and filling in who won what seat…..the endless wait for Basildon or Sunderland…….and the frantic trying to keep up with results at 2am.
    The horrible sinking feeling when the Tories won in 1992 matching the elation of that Portillo moment in 1997.
    Yet I have no great enthusiasm for printing out a spread sheet this time around and watching Election night on a relatives TV in London.
    On this particular occasion I will only be able to vote early……rather than early and often as I will be on a flight to London for the weekend.
    Not actually looking forward to being in London on Friday 7th. Too close to Millbank….and I expect to be sitting on top of a bus passing Jon Sopel, Adam Boulton and the like interviewing back benchers. I expect boisterous Young Tories to congregate in and around Whitehall.
    And that will pain me.
    The actual west London suburbs where I will be on Saturday 8th are actually held by two Lib Dems. so hopefully I will avoid Tory boys and girls in joyous local mood.

    late Friday night I may catch a Robinson moment to rival the Portillo moment. An angry and ungracious resignation speech is the best I can hope for but to be honest it seems unlikely.

    I am no great enthusiast for this Twitter mentality and even locally we have political hacks and party spinners who are addicted to those Blueberry or Blackberry devices. And incidently way too many youngsters modelling themselves on Peter Capaldis character in The Thick of It.
    Hopefully there will be a few more “coffin dodger” embarrassments. Indeed I am referred to in much the same way by one of those political youngsters here on Slugger. Should I leak it to cause a little embarrassment to the would be politician.? Nah…surprisingly Im not that petty.

    Yet this does seem to be an election with a difference. One without any sense of optimism.
    In part those “13 years of Tory misrule” was about the Conservatives managing a mixed economy…building more schools and hospitals….and the 13 years of New Labour has been about Bliar and Brown adopting the new consensus created by Thatcher.
    Whats left?
    Whether Tory or labour the position for 50 years was of onward progress. A government will now be elected by people who must tell their kids to LIMIT their horizons. Unless of course they are City Traders and Bankers.
    So no enthusiasm.
    Hung Parliament?
    I am increasingly of the opinion this is actually the result the politicians want.
    Why so?
    Well if the Tories win…they will only be there for five years. The cuts will be so savage and without any clear signs of recovery by 2015.
    If Labour win…….well I think much the same….
    So a Coalition……..even a Grand Coalition of National Unity “grave times blah blah blah”….seems a result most politicians could live with.
    They could actually impose “necessary” cuts without any real Opposition. Have we been here before? 1930s….Depression…..Labour Party destroyed……Blackshirts.
    Couldnt happen again.
    Could it?

  • Michaelhenry

    would you give sinn fein a preference at the next assembly elections garza.

  • Garza

    [quote]would you give sinn fein a preference at the next assembly elections garza.[/quote]

    lol no

  • PJM

    A surprisingly conventional election so far: lots of ‘issues of the day’, set piece interviews and so on. No sign of the ‘twitter’ election we were promised.

    The Labour party look like they are resigned to their fate. Very poor energy level and no fresh ideas (and I am a LP supporter).I wonder how many think that, given that they have to lose eventually, Cameron may be the first Tory they can afford to lose to as he won’t completely destroy the country?

    Locally, you wouldn’t know there was an election on in S. Belfast. No DUP or Alliance posters up and very few CUNF, SDLP, SF or Green. So much for a hotly contested constituency.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    More likely the Labour Party think Cameron will lead a one term government.
    The problem with Thatchers “cuts” and unemployment (steel, miners etc) is that it didnt really affect Tory voters. Her early privatisations benefitted Tories (a licence to print money) but eventually there wasa price to pay when the cuts started hitting the middle class.

    Camerons cuts will hit the middle class much more quickly. And anger will build up so that he even a revival of economic fortunes after three or four years will not save him.
    Labour might consider it a good election to lose.

  • slug

    North Antrim is festooned with Jim Allister posters and there is a massive poster of Ian Paisley (Yes I have heard of Sweeney) Junior at Harryville Bridge – near to where he led the pickets against catholic people going to church back in 1996. Shame on him.

    Allister is the better person of the two and I am very far from Allisters politics.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    alas if Posters were votes the Workers Party would be in Government and John Lowry would be First Minister.
    I heard today (Ive been out of circulation) that Jim Allister was consulting lawyers about something Robbo said. I actually thought Allister IS a solicitor.
    Couldnt he just save some money and advise himself?

  • joeCanuck

    I guess you’re not familiar with the saying that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.

  • PJM

    FitzJH, That is certainly true – and I’m sure no-one in Labour really wants the job of balancing the books either – but I also remember a real sense in 2002 and 2005 that if the Tories won civilisation would end with Hague or Howard in charge. I’m sure Conservatives felt the same in 1983 and 1987. That sense just isn’t there anymore. I really hate what the Tories stand for and I don’t expect them to be good but I can’t pretend that they are as bad as five years ago, or that I am enthusiastic about putting Labour back.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    joe, I think its actually “the MAN who represents HIMSELF”

  • FitzjamesHorse

    PJM….True……the Tories had to go thru Hague, IDS and Howard before choosing someone who looked acceptable.
    But the same is true of Labour.
    Remember that Sun headline from 1992 about Kinnock possibly winning.
    “Will the last person to leave the country please switch off the light” (or something in that vein.

    Bliar was the acceptable face of Labour.
    Brown isnt.

  • Cynic2

    “Yeah liberate Palestine!”

    I agree Garza. Time we got those pesky Palestinians out and liberated it

  • LabourNIman

    Garza – ‘If the Lib Dems ran, I would consider them too.’

    Talk like that will get Stalin stomping in here..

    Michaelhenry – ‘you would just consider it garza, but you would not do it’

    Sounds like you are trying to convince Garza not to. Speaks volumes… unless we will be seeing your face on an election poster next year??

  • Impartial Reporter

    No UCUNF posters in North or West Belfast, Dodds seems to own most lamp posts in most of North Belfast but no DUP in West Belfast.

    Gerry is everywhere in West Belfast (must have spent a fortune on posters)

    No sign of anyone else on the lamp posts

  • LabourNIman

    ‘no DUP in West Belfast’ Our mate nigel has his posters on the shankill, he should have given his boys the boundaries.

  • Impartial Reporter

    one half of upper Shankill is North Belfast – always has been

  • LabourNIman

    True but the posters are literally down to the top of North Street

  • cynic47

    Does nobody from the North Belfast side of the Shankill travel up North Street LabourNIman? Posters are one thing you don’t have to worry about putting up in any case.

  • Cynic2

    “Gerry is everywhere in West Belfast (must have spent a fortune on posters)2

    Bet when the expenses return comes in you will be amazed how cheap they were

  • Impartial Reporter

    His Posters only go as far as Agnes Street- that is North Belfast