So as to what utter calamity Ed Miliband would unleash upon us if he became Prime Minister, you can take your pick from the increasingly desperate right wing papers and the increasingly desperate right wing ‘campaign’ of David Cameron and Lynton Crosby.
Cameron himself is in the Mail (forgetting how he has broken his ‘kick me out if I don’t’ pledge on immigration numbers) saying Ed would have the immigrant hordes flocking in. Then George Osborne in the Sun wraps himself in the flag of St George to wheel out the Labour-SNP coalition lie as his party continues its effort to break up the UK after 300 years in the hope it might help get Dave a few more years using Chequers for chillaxing. The Telegraph picks out Digby Jones – one of the last government’s errors I fear – to warn Labour would destroy enterprise. And the Times, alas increasingly succumbing to the Murdoch orders, has a few funny number predictions of economic ruin under Labour. And on and on it goes.
Meanwhile lest anyone dare to say the Tories are only fighting a negative campaign against Labour, perish the thought, Cameron comes up with a new wheeze in the form of English only tax levels. Yeah, like that one has been planned for ages, honestly it has not been made up to fit the new ‘strategy’ of pitting England v Scotland, and as for why it was not in the now largely forgotten Tory manifesto, er, well, oh, er, it must have been a printing error.
I have seen some dire campaigns in my time. Crosby’s Michael Howard 2005 vintage springs to mind. But this one is taking all the awards for the direst.
They are not so much making it up as they go along as going along not sure what they just made up.
I am almost moved to feel sorry for Margaret Thatcher, laid to rest in the last Parliament, swirling around her grave wondering what happened to the great fighting machine for which the Tories were renowned.
They say they have the economy on their side. If only they did not overcook it and pretend to claim some kind of modern British Wirtschaftwunder, people might buy it. They say they have leadership going for them but EU leaders who studied Dave at yesterday’s ‘not our fault guv’ Mediterranean waters summit report he was nervous, edgy, not as confident as the last time he swept through Brussels, and in need of a haircut.
Meanwhile, almost as if to illustrate the increasingly likely prospect of Cameron making way for Ed Miliband, despite the millions spent undermining him and the mega-tons of media print telling the public he is hopeless, today the Labour leader turns to foreign policy.
It is one of the side effects of Britain’s diminution on the world stage under Cameron that foreign policy has barely figured in this election. Yet the challenges and threats we face are as much international – or at least intertwined with challenges and threats faced by most counties – as domestic. Economic inequality, geostrategic shifts between East and West, climate change, nuclear proliferation, ISIS and terrorism more broadly, Russian aggression, global trade, these are issues that do not stop or start at any border. They affect us all. They are among the chief responsibilities of any democratic leader anywhere in the world.
And of course Europe. I have had one or two people complain – it happened at a business
event I did yesterday – that I have been too harsh on Cameron in this campaign. But if I look at just two things – his handling of Britain’s position in Europe, and his handling of Scotland and the UK – I am afraid I feel it hard to garner any respect at all. I could respect Thatcher even though I hated a lot of what she did. But I cannot respect someone who is playing fire with nationalism, making him little better than a poor man’s Sturgeon or Farage – and at least the SNP and UKIP leaders believe in their big causes. And I cannot respect someone who because of his failure to stand up to the nonsense arguments spouted by Farage, parts of the media and the right of the Tory Party, has led Britain to the margins of Europe. His only hope now, the economy, leadership and ‘experience’ having been jettisoned as strategic anchors, is that he can get UKIP voters to ‘come home’ by promising an EU referendum that even before a vote is cast is a disaster
for the UK, because of the mayhem it will cause in the run up, and by pouring petrol on the fires of Scottish and now English nationalism. It is squalid and pathetic. It is not even worth calling it a campaign. No wonder, over in the last bastion of moderately reasonable news reporting, that the FT’s front page tells of Tory business supporters’ anger at the hapless Cameron campaign.
Meanwhile the Ed Miliband who was going to collapse at the first sound of electoral gunfire is showing himself to be calm, resilient, focused, and today setting out an agenda for a foreign policy that can help to meet the challenges of our time.
If you are watching the news tonight and you see Cameron bouncing around promising English only tax plans in front of yet another invited audience of Tories, and you see Ed Miliband at Chatham House talking of some of the threats and challenges above, I ask you to consider… have the Tories overestimated the appeal of Cameron and the talent of Crosby, and have they, to quote George Bush, misunderstimated Miliband?
Off to a few Northern marginals today and tomorrow, ahead of the most important event happening anywhere on the planet tomorrow. Burnley v Leicester, 3pm. The definition of a six pointer. Squeaky bum time. Not sure if they had squeaky bum time at Eton and St Paul’s. But Cameron and Osborne are in it now, clock ticking.