Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Politics of Fear..

The IPSOS-MORI opinion poll showing the Conservatives on 52% has received extensive coverage in the past twenty-four hours and the Tory activists who now dominate have revelled in it and especially in the drop in Liberal Democrats support to 12% and we have seen the usual vilification of Nick Clegg.

In fact, Nick Clegg has had a pretty good week at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Bournemouth. His gaffe relating to the level of the State pension was inexcusable and, to be fair, Nick has admitted his mistake but he is and remains a work in progress. Mike Smithson, the doyen of authored a piece savaging Clegg and unfavourably comparing him with Vince Cable, who enjoyed a brief but successful spell as the Party's caretaker leader last autumn.

Now, we know Smithson is no friend of Nick Clegg's but it is quite disingenuous to compare the roles and responsibilities of a caretaker to an elected leader. There was little or no pressure on Cable and while he played his hand well, he could do so safe in the knowledge that it would be difficult for the other parties to attack him. I suspect that had Chris Huhne been elected leader, little would be different. Events far beyond the control of the Liberal Democrats are shaping British politics but Nick Clegg will be around after the next election and will be a key player in the anti-Tory coalition which will inevitably develop as the Cameron Government gets into trouble.

This poll could be a rogue - we'll have to see - but it underlines the degree of fear out there. This week's events will have greatly exacerbated that fear. The flight to the Tories is a symptom of that fear, a knee-jerk response if you like. Many people believe (with scant evidence) that somehow things will be better under the Conservatives.

I'm one of the minority that doesn't.

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