April 26, 2010


General Election 2010: Only two can play – which leaves no room in the game for Labour: Peter Mandelson's leg-up to Nick Clegg may prove costly in what is essentially a two-party system (Boris Johnson, 4/26/10, Daily Telegraph)

All of a sudden an enthralling possibility is opening before our eyes: that the cunning Labour plot to boost Nick Clegg has been the most hideous miscalculation since their 1983 manifesto. I have it on good authority, you see, that the puffing of Clegg – all that ostentatious "I agree with Nick" stuff from Gordon Brown in the first debate – was entirely deliberate. In agreeing to the debates, Labour thought it had spotted what the Tory high command had missed: that if you put Clegg and Cameron simultaneously before the nation, and the electorate saw two vaguely similar products – telegenic 43-year-old public schoolboys with an air of deep reasonableness – then all at once the Tories would lose their Unique Selling Point.

They would stop being the sole proprietors of the message emblazoned on every Conservative poster in Britain. They would cease to be the party of "change" – or at least they would cease to be the only possible party of change, because at every turn they would have to contest that title with the newly prominent Lib Dems.

The plan was to boost Clegg, take the gilt off the Cameron gingerbread, and wreck Tory hopes of achieving a majority government. With the Lib Dems surging, the Tories would be forced to rethink their plans of taking all those West Country seats. The mountain would become too high to climb, at which point Bob's your uncle and Gordon's still your Prime Minister.

That was the plan, and very devilish it has seemed to be – at least to many of my gloomy Tory friends, who rue the day we agreed to the debates. But as the first burst of Cleggmania starts to subside, and as the first postal vote exit polls give a sign of what may actually happen in 10 days' time, it looks as though Labour – not the Tories – may be the big losers from the frenzy they helped to create. Because the Tories are still up on 35 or 36 per cent in the polls – roughly where they were before Cleggmania began; the Lib Dems are on 31 or 32 per cent; and Labour is right down on 26 per cent, or as little as 24 per cent.

When the volcanic clouds have dispersed, in other words, and the new tectonic plates are revealed, we can see that the stunning event of the past fortnight is that Labour and Lib Dems seem to be in the process of switching round.

...but positioning yourselves as the Second Way party is Anglospheric suicide.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 26, 2010 5:49 AM
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