By Mark Connor, a first year student of International Relations at King’s College London from Bath. Also runs his own blog at https://powerofthepress.wordpress.com/
Do the Tories have any policies?
This is a question I have found myself asking on a regular basis every time I see something related to the General Election (GE) in the news or on the internet. It is blindingly obvious that the Tories main tactic this campaign is to attack the Labour party with ruthlessness and vigour. I do not dispute that Ed Miliband may or may not be the best candidate for Prime Minister but I would much rather have him than Cameron and the Conservatives.
The pettiness of the Conservative’s GE campaign is baffling, but understandable. The Tories waffle on constantly about their success with the economy, but what else do they have? This struck me on Thursday in particular when watching the regional news. On it there was an interview (and a corresponding news article can be found here) with Chancellor George (Gideon) Osborne, within which he said the choice was to vote for the Tories for a stable and “growing” economy, or vote for Labour, with a poor track record, which would also lead to the SNP storming Westminster (not in aforementioned article).
I’m sorry Mr Osborne but is Scotland no longer part of the United Kingdom? I did not realise Scottish people were not allowed their own representation in the UK’s parliament.
These attacks get weaker and weaker each day with the actual news being the overwhelming support the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon have received in wake of the Leaders’ Debates earlier in April. To me, the Tories constant rebuking of Labour and the SNP only demonstrate the deep fear penetrating Westminster today. The likelihood of a Labour-SNP (and Green?) coalition is fast becoming a realistic prospect. A recent Guardian article caught my attention, fielding the question as to what would happen if the SNP stood candidates outside of Scotland. It revealed how a Survation poll put SNP’s share of parliamentary seats across the UK at 9%, 1% above the Liberal Democrats. This, combined with the Liberal Democrats’ 8% and Greens feeble 4% place left wingers with a sizeable 21% share of the vote, not far off the Tories’ 30. This almost mirrors a similar YouGov poll, putting the SNP at 11% of the vote. However, as this is all hypothetical, the only power SNP will likely have is influencing which party holds power after May 7th. Because of this the only option is for continued attacks on Labour in the press and by politicians themselves
The Tories, unsurprisingly, are being championed along by the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. In fact, one news story about how ‘70% of the FTSE Top 100’ say Miliband and Labour would be a ‘catastrophe’ for the economy has been on the front page of the Mail for 5 days – it’s not really breaking news anymore, yet there it stays. Within said article, it is written how Labour has ‘vowed to force companies to offer staff a full time contract if they have been working regular hours for three months’. How is this a bad thing for the country? The same article notes that there are 1.8 million people living on zero-hour contracts. All this reads to me is that big businesses want to keep people down and poor, so they are easy to use to their advantage.
Other self-defeating digs at Labour include Friday’s “scandal”, how – shock horror – EdMiliband has slept with more than one woman. This point seems to negate common Miliband-slander: that he is a geek, furthering the Tories campaign ineptitude. Ed’s love-life was important enough to make the front page of the Mail in print (perhaps what most people will encounter in their day), but obviously not important enough to make the top of its website. I do not see how these types of posts, about the people involved do not constitute an invasion of their personal privacy, considering they include a lot of intimate detail as well as multiple pictures. These sorts of attacks perhaps demonstrates the weakness in Tory campaigning in another way – because the Mail has nothing to champion or defend on behalf of the Conservatives it has to dig around to find something to report on just to try and keep the Tories on top.
Thursday’s Question Time raised some interesting points about the recent furore about non-domiciled (non-doms) people, a status rich businesspeople can purchase meaning they pay no tax to the UK on incomes made abroad. Labour want to abolish them, meaning the question around the table was how much the abolishment of non-doms would cost the country. Expectedly, many different numbers were thrown around. In my opinion, the likelihood of thousands of Brits registered as non-doms upping sticks and leaving the country is slim. Caroline Lucas rightly noted that if these people who choose to be taxed unfairly at the cost of everyone else want to leave, so be it, they are morally unjust. The Daily Telegraph even noted that the Conservatives would rather target Ed Balls and avoid the issue, something the broadsheet notes most find an ‘archaic injustice’. The same article noted how the public love an underdog, and so in effect, the Tories are shooting themselves in the foot, because this is exactly what Miliband has become. By showing their support for the non-dom status, the Tories only demonstrate that they are a party for the rich, supporting antiquated policies benefiting only themselves. Almost daily the Conservatives push this idea onto the public, exacerbating the effect the daily attacks on Miliband have. David Cameron has high approval ratings with the public, and it will be interesting to see how this changes as the election campaigns push on.
I am not endorsing the Labour party or saying that they will win the election, in fact I am still on the fence as to which way to vote. Nevertheless, what I am sure of is that I will not vote for a party which engages in dirty, smear-campaigning in order to swing the vote, and I’m equally sure many others will not either. The Conservative party has a lot to learn: if you want people to engage in politics and lend their support, prove to them that after 5 years in power you are competent in politics and have policies which are sensible and work towards the greater good rather than dodge issues and resort to scathing and immature personal attacks on someone who is obviously a formidable opponent. It is for this reason, the fact that the Tories have insofar presented nothing solid or appealing to the public, that I feel they will not win a majority at the election on May 7th, and as a disclaimer I suppose I should say that if they do I will eat my hat and move to Australia, never to return.