Tories ready for election?
The media has been making a lot out of the possibility of a snap election, since Labour have been lining up PR companies and campaign managers and such like. Inevitably, the journalists have thought about the obverse of that particular coin; whether or not the Conservatives are ready to make their case to the nation.
Yet between the lines, for those in the know, the Tories have already outlined their “alternative” for Britain. It doesn’t look good. Particularly revealing over the last few weeks has been Wigan-boss Dave Whelan’s decision to donate £1 million to the Tories because of his view that Labour have failed to adequately deal with law and order.
Judging by the reasons for Whelan’s support for the Conservatives, a Tory government will set about building new prisons and introducing draconian measures to arrest and imprison those caught with knives or guns about their person.
Given that we have the highest prison population our country has ever had, I’m not entirely sure such measures are likely to have the effect the Tories think it will. This is not to say that Labour are doing everything right, but the usual Tory response to crime is to impose higher sentencing laws, which, more often than not, the judiciary resents.
Other things that have been mooted in this regard are bans on violent video games. Cameron has also mentioned that the plans to incentivise couples staying together will help reduce crime. Not to pour water on the poor chap – he is a fellow Brasenoser – but a return to 1950’s restrictions on freedom of speech and encouraging women to stay with men for the sake of money a happy family will not make.
It’s not like Labour is asleep at the wheel, despite their occasional authoritarian knee-jerk reaction to Sun headlines. Operation Trident, in London, is a good example of a well-thought out Labour response. Aimed at the black community – from whence an estimated 75% of gun crimes originate so the Trident website claims – it goes into schools, to young people’s groups and it promotes public vigilance and awareness. It is led by the Metropolitan police with communities involved through the Trident Independent Advisory Group.
Law and order isn’t the only thing we should be worrying about with regard to Cameron and his ilk. The usual rhetoric on the NHS, choice, more out-of-hours care etc, masks the desire to further establish a market in the health service – and recently the BMA has blasted the Tories for “ill informed” policies. On the environment too, one only need look past Cameron’s headline grabbing policies to what local councils are doing and where the Tories are concerned, in non-marginal areas, the answer is “not much.”
Ultimately, as ever, the Tories will be better funded than Labour. Worryingly, the Conservatives also continue to have more members, with about 300,000 members to Labour’s 200,000. The effects of this are clearly visible, since the leadership seems much more interested in money-led media campaigns than in grassroots activism, particularly where the South East is concerned.
If the membership trend in Labour continues, the party will ultimately be relying on the same backers as the Conservatives. That is to say, wealthy businessmen. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy on the part of New Labour. They and their predecessors declared that socialism was dead and that we should try to be where “the country” is on major issues. They stated than unless we moved from the left, we would never win elections.
Though their reasoning may be flawed, if the party continues to haemorrhage members, then we will never win an election again by going to the left – because we’ll cripple ourselves financially by doing so. I look forward to seeing the effects of leadership suggestions on party funding reform over the next few years.
With no few constituencies still without candidates and election agents, Labour is gearing up for battle with the old foe. The question is, will it be enough?