Saturday, February 27, 2010

David Cameron prepares for hung parliament as lead narrows.

There are reports that David Cameron has set up a unit to prepare for a hung parliament which reflects the growing fear amongst Conservatives that they are losing what should be an election which is theirs for the taking.

As Conservatives gathered tonight in Brighton for their last conference before the general election, shadow cabinet ­ministers voiced fears that a narrowing in the polls had highlighted major weaknesses in the party's election strategy.

One influential member of the shadow cabinet reflected the jittery mood following a series of mistakes and policy confusions. "What's going wrong with our campaign?" the shadow cabinet minister asked. "Are we just making the odd mistake, or is there a deeper problem?"

Where, oh where, to begin?

The Conservatives have been running - ever since Cameron was elected - on the fact that Cameron is not Gordon Brown. This served them well for a long time but it was never going to be enough to get them elected, especially with their history as the "nasty party".

Now that an election looms, people are starting to ask just what exactly the Tories plan to do once elected and Cameron appears to have no answer.

He is like a rabbit caught in the headlights, scared to say anything in case he frightens voters away.

But, their hung parliament unit appear to be placing all their hopes in the Tory plan to massively cut back the deficit, a plan which is already at odds with the IMF.

Matt Hancock, chief of staff to George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, until he was recently selected as a parliamentary candidate, is taking charge of the post-election preparations. These revolve around an emergency budget, to be held within 50 days of the election, which would form the springboard to a second poll if the Tories were the largest party in a hung parliament.

"The emergency budget will be crucial in setting out the long-term approach of Conservatives in tackling the fiscal deficit," one senior figure said. "But it will also give a chance to present a take-it-or-leave-it challenge. If Labour want to vote against it and trigger a general election, we would be very happy to have another election this year, when we would be confident of winning on the basis of the budget."

That's insanity, and yet that is their plan of what to do should the election result in a hung parliament.

They have already made clear that they think the deficit should be cut as a priority, despite the fact that the IMF have warned that the fragility of the global economy meant stimulus packages should be left in place well into 2010.

Are they seriously thinking that they can have a second general election, which they think they would win, essentially asking the nation to vote for austere cuts in public services?

They must be living on some alternate universe if that's the plan that they have come up with.

And there were further indications of just how narrow their message is:
"The polls actually focus attention on our key message, which is: do people really want five more years of Gordon Brown," one source said.
That's not a message. And yet that remains about the only thing the Tories appear to think that they have to sell.

It's not enough not to be Gordon Brown. You have to for something. You have to tell us what you are going to do.

The task they face is considerable.
The Tories will need to gain around 117 seats just to secure a majority of one, requiring a swing not achieved since the 1930s.
You don't produce swings like that by merely attacking your opponent. You need to provide the country with a vision.

Brown may be unpopular, but he's not a hate figure, there's nothing particularly polarising about the man.

And, come election day, the public might very well decide to stick with the devil that they know.

The ball is firmly in Cameron's court. And, at the moment, it looks as if he doesn't have a clue what to do with it.

Click here for full article.

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