We now have official confirmation of what we have all known for months, if not years, the UK General Election will be held on Thursday 6th May.

Since he bottled out of an early election following his unopposed “coronation” as Labour leader and thus also Prime Minister, it was clear that Gordon Brown was going to hang on for as long as possible. Theoretically Brown could have hung on into June but as the first Thursday in May is the date each year when a number of local council elections take place the 6th May was the obvious choice.

So what about Cameron? Frankly I’m not too impressed by him. He is clever but he just doesn’t seem to have the political savvy needed to win an outright majority. Even against a Prime Minister as unpopular and incompetent as Gordon Brown. Even against a totally discredited Labour administration that far from closing the gap between rich and poor has widened it. A Labour administration that took the UK to war on false grounds.

The list is endless and any rational person would think that Cameron, even faced with the disgraceful situation where constituency boundaries have been designed to make it easier for Labour to win seats than either the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats, would walk into Downing Street with a comfortable majority.

But I fear Cameron will fail to win an absolute majority.

Why? Well there are many reasons but here are some of them:

  • For years the Tories excused their lack of policies on lack of information from government and promised they would publish detailed policies “nearer the election”. However this didn’t happen until it was too late and even then the policies were neither detailed nor properly costed;
  • They totally mishandled the issue of Lord Ashcroft, even though he has done nothing wrong. It is perfectly legal for a non-domiciled (“non-dom”) but tax resident person to contribute to a UK political party and even to sit in the House of Lords. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have non-doms sitting in the House of Lords and/or making contributions to their election funds. Cameron should have remembered that “the best method of defence is attack” and taken the fight to his critics. Instead he dodged the issue. Not a good idea. Inept and naive in fact.
  • Cameron has been too defensive of his “posh” background and has tried to be too “laddish”. He just came across as false. Rather than deny who he is Cameron should have faced up his critics and pointed out that most of his critics had enjoyed the same “privileged” background. Most of the Lib Dem front bench – including Nick Clegg – and the majority of the Labour cabinets of the last 12 years enjoyed similar backgrounds. Tony Blair went to Fettes College – often called “the Scottish Eton”. Gordon Brown didn’t go to a public or “independent” school but he did get a first class education at a Scottish school which I can confirm from my own experience (I’m a year or so older than Gordon and like him was educated in Scotland in the 1950’s and 1960’s) was far better than any current comprehensive, grammar or many independent schools).
  • Cameron has, I believe, made a huge error in setting up his “A List” of candidates. These are people he approves of – his “type of person” and who will, by hook or by crook, be installed in eminently winnable seats despite the wishes of the local Conservative Party committees. These people – such as the ones in South West Norfolk – who complain about interference in their right to choose their own candidates, are castigated and derided. Indeed the Chairman of the South West Norfolk Constituency Association, a recent Sheriff of the County, and his committee members have been dubbed “the Turnip Taliban” by Conservative Central Office. I suspect that the “imposed” candidate, Liz Truss, will win but I would be prepared to bet that even if she does there will be a swing away from the Tories or at best a very small swing to them. Nationally the polls suggest a swing to the Tories of 10% – Truss will be lucky to get 1%. OK, she will win but lots of local activists who have turned out for 10, 20, 30 years – through good times and bad, will feel cheated at being unable to reward one of their own by choosing them to stand for the seat. South West Norfolk is a safe Conservative seat so a small swing for or against won’t make much difference. However in marginal seats, which the Tories need to win a swing of 5% or so to win, I do wonder if they will manage this with imposed candidates. I do have some experience of the micro management of Conservative Constituency Associations as both my wife and I have been elected as Conservative Councillors (and my wife dumped as a local candidate for Parliament in favour of a no-hope import from outside the constituency) and know that the more you tell local Tories what to do they, unlike Labour, will do the opposite. Just like me, as anyone who knows me will testify!
  • Finally, I just can’t see why Cameron not only agreed to the “Leaders’ Debates” but pressed to have them. Leave aside the point that unlike in the USA, France or elsewhere, the UK doesn’t vote for a President or political leader, the fact is that the only person with anything to use is David Cameron. Gordon Brown is an abject speaker whose idea of a good speech is to recite meaningless statistics and Nick Clegg is all spin and no substance. He can just trash the other two party leaders and pick up the kudos.

Cameron though is 10 points ahead and has everything to loose. I suspect he will and the nation will have to hope that the LibDems don’t prop up Labour. If they do they will disappear, as a political party, which may, many would say, be a good thing. However in the meantime the UK economy would be even more at risk than it now is. God Save Britain.

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