The last month in British politics has been quite extraordinary. Labour’s support has collapsed across the nation in a way that would not have been believable even a few weeks ago. Scotland could see the current 40 Labour MPs reduced to 8. At Westminster current polling levels would send 100 Labour MPs packing, and bring in 100 new Conservative MPs, giving David Cameron a majority of over 100.
David Cameron’s inner circle are apparently cock-a-hoop. All the criticism they received over the last two and a half years as they faced down first Blair, and now Brown has been vindicated. All they have to do now is to keep progressing without upset or major incident, and power is at last the most likely prospect in 2010.
But the problem is that two years is a very long time to sit in the waiting room, and remain in full song. People will have a long time to think, to question and examine the Conservative prospective government as to exactly what policies they will pursue once in power, and many of those questioning are aleady starting to feel that something is lacking.
The Labour collapse is a sure indication that voters have had enough of Labour’s style of government, spin, triangulation, cynicism, combined with centrism. The same trends are visible in America where Obama has pushed out Clinton from the Democratic nomination. In the US too, the Clinton style which Blair substantially copied is no longer required.
The world has decided which way it doesn’t want to go in a big way. It wants no more centralisation of power. But it is only just beginning to define and put into words the opposite of that – where it does want to go.
Cameron and Obama are both making the right noises, of returning power from the centre back to people who can choose their own path at local level. The problem, though is how will they do it, when most laws and policies are no longer decided by national governments, but by international bodies set up by Treaty.
UNECE specifies all worldwide transport legislation. IPPC the world’s environmental legislation, for example. And there are a number of similar Tranzi organisations, set up by Conventions in the last 50 years which specify the laws which all signatory countries must observe. This has been the era in which one world government has been promoted and substantially believed in, and implemented.
Cameron and Obama are coming in not merely at the end of an era of Clinton and Blairism, but at the end of a sixty year post war period when the centralising of power on a worldwide basis has continued apace. That problem is combined with another one. Very few Americans or Europeans have any idea at all that this has happened, and so any political leader will garner very little popular support for a programme of say quitting the EU in Britain, or returning the right to legislate its own laws to America.
However, if the popular mood is demanding change, that means that change will have to be delivered. Or the optimism that is sweeping Obama into power, and the current high polling of the Conservatives will soon fade into renewed pessimism. Blair might have been a disaster for Britain, and wrecked our economy, as Clinton did (as it’s turned out) for America. But Blair was a shrewd politician. He knew that a political movement needed momentum, and he was excellent at providing that, as was Clinton.
His big break with the past and the one which marked him out as a decisive leader was his Clause 4 moment. Cameron must find a similar device to pin his leadership on, a bold statement as to how the future is going to be different to the past. The only way he can do that is to do what he dreads the most – engaging the British people in a discussion about Britain’s EU membership. He has to find an issue which kicks the popular interest in this topic into play, in a way which compels the media to come with him – whether that be the Human Rights Act, the Common Agricultural Policy of the Common Fisheries Policy or anything else.
Otherwise the bigger the prospective Conservative majority, the more likely it will become that the nationalist parties, who want to return power to local level will make progress, as they are starting from the right place as regards their determination to get out of international obligations, and allow people a voice.
Cameron’s fear is that the image of his Party has just been decontaminated from being seen as unelectable, nasty, obsessed with the issue of Europe, and sleezy. It was a major achievement to have done so.
But the collapse of Labour passes over to Cameron something that has not had to deal with before – expectation. Unless he feeds that and makes bold moves, he will be seen as a let-down. The Party’s image could become tarnished with another contamination – of lack of ability to give people what they are asking for, and maybe of arrogance and remoteness.
If Cameron cannot say the words EU, he should use another tactic, and start to educate the electorate another way by saying that there has been an international movement towards one world government since WW2. So many powers have been given away to so many different organisations to legislate over so many areas that there is little power left at Westminster. He could state that he will be engaging in a review of where Britain is being governed from, and assess which of these powers he wishes to bring back power to Westminster.
If he doesn’t, the likes of the BNP and UKIP will see their way to building more support.
Cameron must seize the opportunity the collapse of Labour is placing into his hands. Labour might disappear to all intents and purposes. The Lib Dems are not looking good either, taking a hit from Labour’s collapse. It will become the moment for the small parties to surge, if Cameron misses his moment.
Similar message HERE from Peter Oborne in The Daily Mail –
The truth is that this week’s collapse of Hillary Clinton’s presidential election campaign and Gordon Brown’s deep unpopularity in Britain stem from profound structural factors which have nothing at all to do with personality.
To put it simply, voters have woken up to the fact that the Clinton governing method, as adapted by Tony Blair and now attempted by Gordon Brown, doesn’t work. They have lost faith with the recycled initiatives, the bogus announcements and the structural dishonesty.
If Cameron carries on with this flawed methodology, he may win office at the next election, but he will ultimately fail in government.
The Tory leader is wise enough to grasp this dilemma. As a result, he now has the chance to do something very original and daring. He must use this opportunity to restate the nature and purpose of the political process.
This means giving up the shoddy techniques employed during an era that came to an abrupt end last week. It means abandoning the modernising drive to be all things to all men. It means starting to spell out honestly what he means to do in office.