‘Am I tough enough? Hell yes I am’ were the words of one confident Miliband last Thursday. Facing the charming but venomous Jeremy Paxman, Ed Miliband was stronger than his rival David Cameron, arguing chiefly of the importance in his polices of improving the living standards of ordinary workers. Cameron merely dithered, especially over the issue of zero-hour contracts, highlighting a party that is out of touch with the reality of the masses.
Immediate results of this first leadership broadcasts were shown by one poll giving Labour a 4 point majority over the Conservatives last Sunday (YouGov). Voters appear to still be wary of Miliband handling the nation’s economy, despite the fact that voters in Scotland would much prefer Miliband as PM overall. Additionally, the recent ITV leaders’ debate, was remarkably entertaining; yet proved that two party politics is in a state of dire uncertainty. Instant polling showed no clear winner. Clearly, these debates are proving to throw up more questions than any clear answers.
Polls are nearly always shoddy. Indeed, with an increasingly fragmented electorate, as Paul Mason argued in the Guardian, this coming general election is proving to be the most unpredictable in post-war British history.
As Parliament was officially dissolved on Monday, the election campaign began in earnest. Labour were quick to try and launch a charm offensive on businesses, producing a tentative ‘business manifesto’; citing importantly the uncertainty that Cameron’s Conservatives would create with their allusion to an EU referendum. The Tories quickly swung back, claiming that Labour’s economic measures would set back families an absurd figure of £3,000. These early punches have set out what we can expect until the 7th of May.
“Clearly, these debates are proving to throw up more questions than any clear answers.”
Principally, both major parties are gearing up towards a negative campaign. Despite Labour’s focus on the NHS, and how it wishes to rightly save it from Conservative plans of top-down reform, it increasingly is in danger of overstating the wrongs and ills of society. Take for example its rather limp arguments of immigration. Freezing benefits for immigrants for two years will not solve the true issues at the heart of immigration; and as many commentators have argued, fails to construct a narrative that provides hope for immigrants and UK communities alike. Labour should focus on its vision for a new moral capitalist economy, pinned by an emphasis on building homes and stopping the creation of free schools.
“Freezing benefits for immigrants for two years will not solve the true issues at the heart of immigration”
On the other side, the Tories are creating a huge hole for themselves by wishing to focus entirely upon the economy as a case for their vote. Whilst the economy may have grown, and employment levels at a high, for many of us, we see no difference. Issues over debt and deficit may be well and good, but austerity economics simply does not translate to affluent voters. Students have been hard hit by the Tories; who do not possess enough imagination to capture angry young voters.
Future election debates will prove to be tantalising, and British politics finds itself in an increasingly volatile environment in 2015. Within this chaos, we should try and find hope that our vote on May the 7th will be a cause for positive change.
Image from getty images via bbc.co.uk