All to play for

Recent opinion polls strongly suggest that Labour is eating into the Conservative lead in the polls and that the next General Election is going to be very close.

Journalists of course have a vested interest in portraying the contest as a close one as this means that they have an easy story to write pieces on for weeks and weeks. Politicians also prefer it that way, surprisingly, as it tends to persuade their supporters to work for the party. And of course members of the public, who don’t in general live and breathe politics, are more likely to vote of they think that their choice might actually make a difference to the final result.

However the polls really should not be this close. We have a demoralised government, at the end of its third term, which has completely run out of ideas and which has descended, as all fag-end governments do, into factional in-fighting. The Prime Minister has been revealed (as if it came as any surprise!) as a bad-tempered bully who allows his supporters to brief against his colleagues and friends when they become a liability. The public wants to see some change.

The Conservative Party’s Spring Conference is taking place in Brighton this weekend. For Conservatives, holding a conference in this city is significant on a number of fronts. Firstly, it reminds us of the IRA attack which could have killed the whole of Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet. Secondly, we remember the time when a Mayor of Brighton, attending a previous conference supposedly to welcome us to his town, used his “welcome” speech to launch a vicious partisan diatribe against the then Government. We vowed not to return. But return we eventually did, to a city (it became a city quite recently) which has changed a lot since then. Brighton is now the gay capital of Britain – and the fact that the Conservatives are now completely relaxed about homosexuality has not gone unnoticed, it seems. The pink pound may well vote blue this time. Brighton is also unusual in that is contains the only Parliamentary seat in England where the Greens have a fighting chance.

Now is the time for us to set out a compelling vision of where we wish to take the country, and to give the people of Britain positive reasons to vote for us rather than negative reasons not to vote Labour. If we fail, we risk a hung parliament. That in my opinion would be a disaster for the country, a point which I will develop in a future post.

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