Friday, March 23, 2007

Tipping Point

A few years ago, Conservatives used to comfort themselves that although the polls were against them, the cumulative effect of unpopular government policies and a desire for change would get to the stage where a rapid and dramatic move could take place in the relative support of the political parties.

Well, the Tories have been waiting a long time. I do not yet believe that they have reached such a point. However the conventional wisdom is changing. Gordon Brown's budget was very politically astute- cutting the headline rates of tax, while still being essentially revenue neutral was both prudent and bold. It undermines David Cameron's "sharing the proceeds of growth" rhetoric in the eyes of his own supporters. The Conservative leadership are now likely to struggle a little to come up with a coherent economically literate response.

The budget is clever but not necessarily popular- and Gordon Brown needs to work hard himself to overcome the whispering campaign against him. The "Stalinist ogre" image that has emerged as a result of some off the record briefing is not an image that will maintain him for long in office as Prime Minister.

The next few months will decide whether breezy charm based on shallow policy foundations can overcome seriousness and discipline. It will be a tough battle. Yet for our country I am not actually sure that it even matters. As a Liberal Democrat I do not believe that either the Conservatives or Labour actually understand the nature of the real issues. The elevation of political gossip- who has personal spats with whom- into the meat of daily political debate is a matter of supreme indifference to the overwhelming majority of the citizenry, which is why fewer and fewer join parties or even vote.

Even if we do get to a tipping point where we want to swap Tory for Labour, the truth is that the effect will be about the same as rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic- while the Iceberg of political indifference looms ahead.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You obviously haven't seen today's YouGov poll. Your fellow Citizens seem to have been rather less enamoured of Comrade Brown's Budget. This bear in mind is in the first flush of the news coverage of the Budget which is always the best for a Chancellor. As an Ecnomics man I suggest you watch Bremner's take. He maybe a comedian, but there are some serious points I think you are deliberately ignoring.


Lepidus.

James said...

It's too early to speculate with any certainty about what the opinion poll 'fallout' from this budget will be, but my guess is that it will halt the slide in Brown's popularity for the time being. The more serious long term consequence is that the public and media demand for concrete Tory policies will increase (and a good thing too!)
I still don't entirely buy your 'permanent slide in voter turnout' line of argument. The last two elections have been forgone conclusions, so unsurprisingly fewer people have turned out to vote. If turnout remains low at this coming election where there is the propect of a change of government or even a coalition I will be surprised (and disappointed).

Anonymous said...

Cicero, where have I said turnout will permantly decrease. I suspect like 1992 a close race will see a spike in turnout, although I'll be surprised to see it reach those levels again so soon.

Lepidus.