GE2015 minus 28: ok, it’s your turn…

Posted: 9 April 2015 in general election 2015, politics
Tags: , ,

A while back, I wrote fairly disparagingly about Labour’s obvious lack of professionalism, and ended by saying:

This should be the time when the official opposition should be challenging the government every bloody day. And they’re not. At all. They should – less than a year out from the next general election – be ripping the Government a new hole daily. Do I want a Labour party in power? I don’t know – show me their next manifesto and I’ll tell you. Until then, I’d be content with them proving they actually bloody want the job.

Well, the past few weeks, Labour have at least started acting like they want to be in government. At the same time, however, I’m becoming far less convinced than I once was that the Conservatives actually want to continue in government. No-one is truly expecting anything other than a hung parliament after the election, and there are too many backbench Tory MPs* who say they won’t ratify another coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Now, while I think that’s a foolish decision, and while I still think that’s the most likely result, it’ll be despite those MPs*, not because of them. 

(*Yes, I know there’s no such thing as a Tory MP at the moment; since prorogation, we don’t have any MPs right now, but it’s a useful shorthand and everyone knows what I mean, right?)

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon made a dick of himself this morning (and yes, he still is Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Defence , despite not being an MP; one of the quirks of our constitution). He indulged in a very personal attack on Ed Miliband, the Labour Party Leader, calling him “weak” and saying that “he stabbed his brother in the back to become Labour Leader; now he’s prepared to stab the country in the back”, referring to the current Labour Party policy of not necessarily backing the replacement four nuclear submarines. Now some, including Owen Jones have considered this a sneering attack on Miliband, founded in an old anti-Semitic trope. 

Now, I’ve been said to have a ‘hot button’ when it comes to such things, but even I don’t think this particular attack is anti-Semitic in nature. It’s so far removed from that particular trope, that I can’t see it.

As Hugo Rifkind said:

Now, that’s not to say that Miliband hasn’t been attacked with some phraseology that makes me uncomfortable at best and furious at worst. Constant references to him as “metropolitan”, “North London”, “elite”, “odd looking”, etc…? Individually, they may not signify much, but taken together?

Well, there comes a point when I start thinking of the following, from 30 Rock

Now before anyone goes all “well, the Tories have always had a nasty streak of anti-Semitism”, Labour’s hasn’t exactly no form in this are either.

Remember these, from the 2005 campaign?


Both Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin were – and indeed, are – Jewish. 

Oh, and the one above, known as the “Fagin poster”, from the same campaign.

Now, both of those made me feel deeply uncomfortable at the time, despite Labour taking them down fairly rapidly. To be fair, Ned Temko, the then editor of the Jewish Chronicle, suggested it was cockup rather than conspiracy, and over the last ten years I’ve come to agree with him. Mostly.But if it was cockup, it was a deeply disturbing one, and as always, people should be careful about slinging around the accusation of ‘anti-semitism’.

But back to the Tories and their alleged wish to win the election, or at least come out of it with the largest number of seats. The more I think about it, the less sure I am that this is the desire of many, including some at the very top of The Conservative Party. A spell in opposition would allow them to make the same mistake as the Republicans in the US and swing hard right to dump David Cameron who’s never been that popular among the rank and file members of the Tory Party for lots of reasons; not winning the 2010 election, equal marriage and an expressed wish to remain inside the [reformed] European Union just some of the most obvious.

You remember Iain Duncan Smith? He’s been mostly conspicuous by his absence the past couple of weeks. I can only conclude that they’re hiding him away from the press in an hopless attempt to make people forget he’s behind the fuckup that is the current Department for Work and Pensions. Hopless because such attempts never work. All it does is store up pressure during the campain until it bursts, like a particularly pustulent pimple a week or so before the election. Despite the Tories’ many attacks on Labour for not spelling out precisely where they’d cut, and where they’d spend, it’s the Conservative Party who are currently being the most secretive. 

“We’ll save £12bn by cutting welfare!”
“Precisely where will the cuts fall?”
“We’ll save £12bn by cutting welfare!”
“Yes, but how?”
“We’ll save £12bn by cutting welfare!”
“Yes, I get that, but what benefits are you going to cut?”
“We’ll save £12bn by cutting welfare!”

Repeat ad infinitum, indeed ad nauseum.

Between the sheer nastiness of the campaign’s likely progress, if what we’ve seen lately is any indication of the future, on the one hand, and the lack of any pretence by the Conservatives to try and get people who wouldn’t normally vote for them to come over to the Tory side, I’m genuinely unsure how anyone can look at their campaigning and conclude most of the Conservative Party would actually be all that sorry if Ed Miliband became Prime Minister. 

Because, right now, they don’t actually seem to be doing much that will, you know, stop him.


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