Tuesday, March 09, 2010
It's time to be radical, Dave
This piece of mine appears in today's First Post.
Where has it all gone wrong for David Cameron?
Considering the desperate record of the present government, the outcome of this spring's general election should be a foregone conclusion. But instead, it's the Conservatives and not Labour who are in disarray as a series of polls show their lead continuing to shrink – culminating in today's Populus survey for the Times which suggests the two parties are neck and neck in 100 key marginals where Tory strategists expected to be well ahead.
What seemed unthinkable a few months back - the re-election of Gordon Brown and Labour - now seems distinctly possible.
The reason why Cameron has failed to capitalise on New Labour's unpopularity is simple. It's because on the issues which most concern the public, where anger with the government is at its greatest, the Conservative leader is singing from the same hymn sheet as Gordon Brown.
Cameron's Conservatives don't represent a break with the discredited policies adopted by all governments of the past 30 years, but a continuation of them. Fed up with privatisation? The Conservatives, in common with Labour, want even more of it. Under the Tories, the whole of the Royal Mail, not just part of it, will sold to the private sector. They've even mooted the possibility of selling the Met Office too. Privatised weathermen? What a vote winner that will be.
On foreign policy, an area where New Labour should be particularly vulnerable, the Conservatives once again simply offer more of the same.
While 64 per cent of Britons believe the war in Afghanistan to be unwinnable, and 63 per cent want troops home by Christmas, the Tories, like the Labour government, remain totally committed. Not only that but on the issue of Iran, they're even more bellicose than Labour, with the party's defence spokesman Liam Fox warning that "2010 is the year in which we will seriously have to confront Iran". Again, not a policy that's likely to have them rushing to vote Conservative in Croydon Central.
You can read the rest of the piece here.