Sunday, 14 September 2008

Middle England is Angry...

The polls have been showing this for months but it was only yesterday that I began to appreciate the sheer contempt felt by Middle England toward Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Labour Government. Across a range of issues, from local to national and international, Middle England feels a sense of anger, disillusionment, betrayal and a wider perception that the country is "going to the dogs" or "going down the pan".

The anger is real and considerable and no amount of spin, relaunches or reshuffles will change it. It's probable that as much of the anger has been personalised onto Brown, the Labour Party will survive his departure and the resulting catastrophic defeat.

Perhaps the most interesting thing was that in the litany of vitriol and invective, there wasn't a word of praise or optimism for David Cameron. Some Conservatives will have you believe there is a positive groundswell of enthausiasm for David Cameron and the Tories. There isn't.

David Cameron will win the next election but should not get the sense that the victory represents a positive vote for him. Instead, the victory will be a damning indictment of Gordon Brown and more than a decade of Labour Government. There is an expectation that the next Government will need to immediately start "putting things right". The expectation is as real as the anger and meeting it will be very difficult.

Labour will suffer the reverberations of the defeat for years to come and my suspicion is that the next successful Labour leader will, as was the case with David Cameron and Tony Blair, have to completely decontaminate the "brand". For the Liberal Democrats, there is an opportunity to become the focus of the emerging anti-Tory vote (a role they have played often in the past). From a base of 6 MPs in 1970, the then Liberal Party won a string of by-elections in 1972-73 and won 19% in the February 1974 elections.

That was then....should the party come out of the 2010 General Election with 40 MPs, it will be in a far stronger position to attack the Tory vote if or rather when the Cameron Government runs into trouble.

For now, though, there's very little the Liberal Democrats can do - the anger is everything and everywhere, the desire to get Labour out of office is overwhelming. People don't really care about Tory or Liberal Democrat policies as long as they stand in opposition to the Government. All Middle England wants is Labour and Gordon Brown gone.

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