Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Cold caller threat to voters
This alarming photograph appeared in the Financial Times yesterday. It is obviously posed with the photographer standing behind the voter. Some hapless Labour supporter in Stevenage has been asked 'would you like the prime minister to call round today?'
Gordon Brown is looking dapper and smiling, conveying some of the personal warmth that is at odds with his dour image. However, what would be really alarming would be to find the Miss Goody Two Shoes of New Labour, Harriet Harman, peering round your door.
Why Stevenage? Local MP and novelist Barbara Follett, whose seat is on the line at the next election after her majority plunged from 12,000 in 1997 to 3,000 in 2005 put it this way, 'What has happened with governments of both colours is that they tend to look after the people at the ends of the system, the very poor or the better-off. And then you have a big block in the middle, C2s, Ds, and that is what we have got in the new towns.'
The visit of Labour's dynamic duo was a prelude to the council elections on May 1st. If the Conservatives do well, it will give further momentum to the narrative of an inevitable Conservative victory which could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Gordon and Harriet were hoping to meet the legendary 'Mondeo Man' in Stevenage, although perhaps they should have gone to Worcester in search of the ultimate median voter, 'Worcester woman'.
Of the 4,500 seats to be contested on May 1st, about 3,000 were last fought in 2001 when Labour was hit by discontent over the intervention in Iraq. Anotherr 1,500 are new seats, largely the result of the creation of unitary authorities. If Labour lose further ground, particularly in the south, it will not be a good sign for their prospects of getting back into an election winning position.
At Prime Minister's Questions yesterday Dave Cameron berated the government for a 37 per cent increase in the rise of milk etc. It is difficult to see what a Conservaive government could do to control world food prices driven by supply and demand. Do they plan to bring back food subsidies? But then Gordon Brown was equally disingenuous when he claimed that inflation was only 2 per cent, using the CPI index that does not reflect everyday experience.