>Well, here we are. It’s the day before the election and, as yet, no one seems to have a clue how things are going to work out. The campaigning is getting pretty frantic now, with Cameron running the night shift and Brown working into the early hours too.
Reports are saying that anything upto 40% of voters are still not decided who to vote for tomorrow. The campaign hasn’t helped though. The Presidential, ahem, sorry Prime Ministerial Debates have sucked the oxygen out of the campaign, with the focus being entirely on the leaders. For the Conservatives this has been interesting, with the man who wants to run the economy, George Osborne, keeping a lower profile than a convicted pædophile out on licence. For the LibDems, it means Vince Cable, a positive asset, has had a peripheral role. And for Labour has been that the focus has been on Brown, who is simply not a TV era politician, however able he might be (and I think he is very able). It also seems, unfortunately, that the debate format will be here to stay; they are easy for the media to package and analyse, concentrating not on the policy questions, but only on who won, when the ‘victory’ can be gained in such superficial ways.
The most worried must be Cameron’s Conservatives. Form such a dominant position a year ago, they are in severe danger of not even being able to form a government, if polls are to be believed. Why? Personally I think it’s because there’s no enthusiasm for the amorphous ‘vote for change’ ticket his party have adopted. There is nothing there, like pulling the curtain in Oz to find the charlatan behind it. In a traditional setup, the Conservatives should be at least 10 points up in the polls now. But they’re not. From a marketing point of view it’s very interesting what has happened. They have run with making Dave look all presidential, like Barrack Obama, bashed us over the head repeatedly with the ‘change’ theme, the rolled-up shirt sleeves sand the stage-managed plackards and posters that try to make things look like the momentum of the Obama campaign exists here. They so want him to appear like Obama it hurts.
But he doesn’t. Charlie Brooker’s description of him as an avatar is all too accurate.
On Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, John Humphrys mused that the election has turned out to be less ‘cynical’ than commenttors were expecting. But I don’t think that’s true either, and it links to the relative coolness with which Cameron has been greeted by the voters. We, as an electorate, are deeply mistrustful of the whole political process. The slickness of the Cameron campiagn is obvious to us all and, after a decade of the tricksy Blair, we are rightly on our guard when we see such things. And then the governemnt are deeply unpopular, with a leader who doesn’t do the flesh-pressing that Cameron does and looks terrible in front of thecameras but is forced to do it, looking increasingly grim and desperate. No wonder Clegg’s Liberal Democrats have made people look again, which is the single good thing about the debates as far as I can see.
For all the Cameron talk of Broken Britain it’s not Britain that’s broken (bad as things are), it’s Britain’s politics. And people are rightly and righteously angry about it. Perhaps this election is the tipping point where people become tired of what has gone before. I hope that this is the case, but experience suggests that will really happen is a flurry of sound and fury before things settle into the same dead pattern as they did before, with the increasingly professionalised, careerist political class moving further away from those they seek to govern. It will be sad for us if this is the case, but, if we are not prepared to do anything about it when the chance comes, it is all we deserve.