There are two competing narratives about what’s going to happen on May 7th. One, which was dominant for a while but is becoming less so, is that Labour will form the next government. It will be a minority one, but Miliband has more options in this regard, with the SNP saying they would never back the Tories. The other is that the UKIP vote will continue going down until polling day, taking a sharp decline on the day itself with most of those voters indeed “coming home” to the Conservative Party as Cameron implored them to. If this happened in reasonable numbers, it may be enough to get Cameron the numbers he needs to continue leading the country.
I was once of the opinion that Cameron would unquestionably remain prime minister after the election, in some way, shape or form. But then when the polls failed to change in the way I thought they would (I figured the Tories would be at least a clear four points up at this stage), coupled with the Tories’ awful election campaign, I started to think that Labour would be largest party. Particularly given how much the electoral system and the boundaries favour them.
But what I have to wonder is this: how much of this is objective reasoning on my part and how much of it is wishful thinking? To be clear, I have not become a Labourite. I have been impressed with Miliband’s performance over the last few weeks, but not enough to make me suddenly become a socialist. It’s actually more that I’m now repelled by the idea of another Tory led government.
Most of it has to do with the election campaign they’ve run. I’ve found all of it either turgid and uninspiring or downright nasty and repugnant. As someone with what in the current climate you might deem centre-right views on the economy, I expected something in the Tory campaign that would at least semi-appeal to me. But no – it’s all been illiberal nonsense, clearly meant as nothing more than a clarion call to the UKIPers. If they win off the back of this strategy, I would find that a horrible indictment of modern day Britain.
Part of this feeling also stems from the moment that any hope I might have had in the Tories being a liberal or at least moderating force came to a shuddering halt. It was after Cameron gave his English Votes for English Laws speech in front of Number 10 while the ink was still dry on the Scottish independence referendum ballot papers. It was a cynical, horrid, partisan move that will almost certainly have huge implications for the future of the United Kingdom. If Scotland is independent in ten years time, David Cameron will have played a huge part in having helped make that happen via that speech. And all so the SNP could crush Labour in the hopes of clinging on a little longer. It was a move that made me think that the selling point of the Tories for a lot of people – stability and retaining the status quo – no longer applied.
But then I think, a Labour-SNP arrangement (I still don’t even know what to call it) will almost certainly be very bad too. And most of Labour’s front line policies are either terrible, incomprehensible or just kind of lame. In other words, the next government has a high probability of being not very good, no matter what. And we wonder why people feel disengaged from politics.