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Election Fever has struck and i’m worryingly immune.

April 7, 2010

No one expects the government to be the most efficient machine. It is afterall, an environment where bureaucracy and party politics play big roles. So when the Tories unveiled their plans to make back £6 billion in efficiency savings I thought to myself…really? Not least because since that announcement, no-one in the Conservative party has been especially clear on where these supposed savings will come from. Astonishingly, on the daily politics, Jeremy Hunt even claimed that there is a potential £11 billion that can be saved! When politicians don’t give us the details on how policies are implemented it’s like saying “Don’t worry, we’ll sort it out, don’t you worry about the details.” It’s vague, requires a large degree of trust and is rather patronising. It is no wonder the electorate are turned off by politics.

A general vagueness of policy is clearly a real problem for the Conservatives. Certainly it is not helped by the various slogans that David Cameron, and the think-tank fuelling him, is coming up with. “vote for change” is the most prominent, but also included are “we can’t go on like this”, “broken britain!” and talk of this weird mythical “great society”. Labour is of course no better, “a future fair for all” is an excercise in blandness*. I suppose “we are good” was already taken. So what does change actually mean? Change for the better? The American’s who voted for Barack Obama certainly knew (or thought they knew) what this mythical “change” meant. It was change for a president who was young, Black and most importantly not George Bush. In the US presidential election there seemed to be a real sense of hope. It was change for the better. I wonder though, do the voters in the UK share the same certainty of meaning? Do, as Cameron so often quips, we really want anything but another five years of Gordon Brown? It seems like a rather weak gesture, vote for us, because the current government is even worse. It’s true, I don’t want another five years of Gordon Brown, but it’s presumptuous to assume that my vote therefore lies with the Conservatives. I know the British are known for being pessimistic, but this is clearly not how a campaign in opposition should be run.

I have a feeling that a lot of people want a change in the way politics is run. Yes, the economy is the most important election issue, but perhaps in second place is this question of integrity. When the main parties share the same ideals (silly rhetoric about great societies aside) and could all be considered to be generally center-right of the political spectrum, Character, integrity and trustworthiness suddenly become election issues. This is exactly why I believe the coming televised debates are not only a good idea, but will be a deciding factor for many potential voters. It will also place the Liberal Democrats on equal footing, where before they had often been sidelined or worse, treated with kids gloves by the media. This extra scrutiny will of course, be a mixed blessing. Hopefully Vince Cable will no longer be treated like some kind of economic messiah and Mr Clegg will be expected to pull his oratory weight a bit more. Whatever happens, I have no-doubt that the Liberals will welcome the prospect of being accepted into the premier league of political parties. Now we can have mudslinging in three directions.

*Curiously enough, It’s also an anagram for “our fearful fat liar”. I laughed a little.

** Oh and just so you know, I have no idea who I am voting for. I need to go through policy proposals (what few there are) before I can make up my mind. Yeah it sounds like fun doesn’t it.

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