The future is Labour’s to define

by Sophie Lambert Russell

Analysts of the 2010 election cannot deny that during the televised debates Nick Clegg charmed his way into the hearts and minds of the British public with his apparent honest approach and sincere appeal to the camera. However, various news outlets are now awash with musings about the next election and it is all too clear that the buzz surrounding Nick Clegg vanished long ago.

The Liberal Democrats have failed to withstand the pressure that comes with being treated as a serious contender in government. An aide who accompanied Clegg during the campaign likened his success to a movie script: “we were like that mousey girl who goes to the prom in films, takes off her glasses, and shakes her hair, and suddenly everyone realises how beautiful she is” he said.

The media were certainly captured by Nick Clegg’s sparkle but this statement does reflect a slight ‘Bambi-ness’ in the Liberal Democrat camp. Since being in power they have failed to push through electoral reform and betrayed a core group of their voters by breaking their election pledge to abolish tuition fees. Jeremy Paxman described this pledge as “the most bare-faced untruth” on Newsnight last week and consequently the party has lost more than half of the support it had in 2010 and Nick Clegg’s popularity is plummeting.

The Conservatives have fared little better. Cameron had the unique experience of not entering his first term in office on the back of a political victory, but as a part of a hastily thrown together coalition. They should have worked harder to shape their message and form popular policy initiatives but like their election campaign, their time in office has been characterised by confusion and inconsistencies with U-turns on removing tax breaks for charitable donations, selling off Britain’s forests, the pasty tax and the third runway at Heathrow.

Arguably, this would not be such of an issue if the Conservatives knew how to handle the press but curiously for the party that brought us Thatcher, ‘the marketing pioneer’, this modern day Conservative party is outrageously media incompetent. Boris Johnson described the commission on a third runway at Heathrow as ‘a fudge’, and fudging is exactly how the Conservatives will make their way through the next election. The government’s media operation resembles one of those old fashioned pinball machines where a policy or a story is catapulted into the political arena where it bounces out of control off any number of levers and whizzing dials while Number 10 are scrambling around trying to bring the story under control and spin it into something positive.

Additionally both parties seem extremely divided. Vince Cable is regarded by some as waiting in the wings, schmoozing Ed Miliband, ready to take the reins from his younger, less experienced counterpart. Cameron has bigger problems. However much he tries to deny it, it is hardly unnoticeable that Boris Johnson is mounting a campaign to take over as the next leader of the Conservative Party. His popularity is growing and growing after an extremely successful Olympics and his likeability and ability to reach across all sections of society is something that will prove invaluable in years to come.With the coalition floundering and both leaders tainted by its failures, Ed Miliband has real opportunity to score with his ‘real jobs guarantee’ and the renewed drive to engage everyone in the political process. Nick Clegg stated in his speech on the last day of the Liberal Democrat Party Conference that “only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to deliver a fairer society”… yeah right.

All eyes on Ed please.

Sophie Lambert Russell is a Labour activist

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One Response to “The future is Labour’s to define”

  1. Harry Barnes says:

    Yet we should always take lessons from the past. What about the 40th Anniversary of the Clay Cross Rent Rebellion? See –

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