Sunday, April 27, 2008

If Cameron is the answer, what was the question?

David Cameron was interviewed by Andrew Marr this morning, demonstrating, if demonstration was necessary, why there are so many soft Tories. I confess to being surprised, if you looked at the polls you would expect to be encountering hard Tories at every other door. The opposite is the case, in fact I have spoken to many who are saying - well, I normally vote Tory, but I'm not so sure this time. Cameron, despite the polls, is certainly not setting middle Britain alight. His crocodile tears for the poor are not sending those on poverty pay rushing into his arms. This morning he again demonstrated why. No policies (except it seems tax cuts for the rich) - the only definite policy position he articulated was sorting out MP's allowances. All smoke, mirrors, motherhood and apple pie. On Grangemouth "We would be saying to management and union you need to sit down and talk together" - great idea Dave, how come no one else thought of that!

The King's New Clothes analogy is perhaps over used, but in this case it is perfect. Davey brought out that old chestnut "waste" cutting that would save the money for an ultimate cut in borrowing and taxes. Could he identify even one area where savings could be made? No, he is setting up a commission or some such animal to look into it. No mention of ID cards, quangos, paperwork, management consultants, pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan, Trident?

I used to think Blair's great gift was packaging - shiny bright eye catching - conning you into thinking there was actually anything of worth in the package, but Cameron is surpassing even him. At least in the early days New Labour were driven by some sort of ideology and set of "new" values. Regardless of my disdain for Blair, and disagreement with much of that ideology and value base, you could see where he was going. You could understand a little of what drove him, even if you didn't agree with it. But Cameron, what are his values? You used to know where you stood with the Tories, but now, what do they believe? What political values do they espouse? What is the ideology driving their alleged policy development? They now seem to be trying to wrap themselves in the sheep's clothing of being progressive..........really?!

So, despite probing by Andrew Marr, I am still none the wiser as to what a Tory government would look like, how it would make its sums add up and I am frankly sick to death of the feeble excuse that they can't tell us yet. Up and down the country, opposition groups on local councils manage to come up with alternative budgets at budget time. I fail to understand how the Tories will ever come up with any concrete policies if they are unable to cost them. As Andrew Marr pointed out this morning, they are talking about spending commitments (more prisons etc) but still cannot say where the money would come from. As someone who has sat on FPC for the past couple of years I am only too acutely aware of the power of our treasury team when it comes to costing our policies!

So, the people of this country are in a catch 22 situation. Fed up with Labour, no real confidence in the Tories and with a voting system that means even if they do like our policies they are often more concerned about stopping someone else, or regard a vote for us as wasted. Little choice and virtually no power......and politicians wonder why there is so much disaffection amongst the electorate?

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