Monday, March 08, 2010
Labour Back from Dead Hard to Believe
Cameron has come out with elements of his manifesto since January- a bold strategy which has backfired as several parts of it have been taken apart by Labour and exposed as shoddily thought through.
And Labour has indeed climbed off the canvas to land some punches of its own. This is precisely the fight it was hoping for—in which it runs more as an opposition than an incumbent, lambasting the Tories rather than defending the government’s somewhat awkward record.
And Labour is much happier in Opposition than the Tories who have been used to and better as incumbents of power. Mandelson, Balls, and company, have their faults, but they are in their element in a dog-fight as Cameron is discovering. Andrew Rawnsley gave his own take on the turnaround:
Having relied for so long on David Cameron being personally appealing to swing voters, the Tories have hit the limits of that strategy. Their lead in the polls, once in big double figures, has shrivelled dramatically. Get downwind of any senior Tory these days and your nostrils are filled with the unmistakable odour of anxious sweat.
The very unpopularity of Gordon Brown induced complacency in the Conservatives. For all their talk about not taking victory for granted, six months ago the Tories started to do just that. At their last party conference, they were banned from quaffing champagne in front of the cameras, but they were already imagining themselves planting their bottoms on the back seats of ministerial limos.
Tory policies came under closer scrutiny by the media as they relaxed and assumed they would serenely glide to victory and shortcomings were exposed. On top of that we have the Ashcroft scandal which Labour are rightly playing for all they can. Will Labour pull off the surprise of the century? My natural pessimism says no. Brown is desperately unpopular, Labour have lagged for too long and Ashcroft's millions might already have swung up to 100 of the 117 seats Cameron needs. But a hung parliment, as I write, seems more likely than not and all those complacent, triumphalist Tories, who took victory for granted will have to recalibrate their expectations and learn a little humility if they want voters to give them the support they crave.
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