Week 2 of the campaign: the good, the bad and the ugly

In a new feature for the general election, Uncut will be looking back at the end of each week at the good, the bad and the plain ugly of the campaign.

The good

Labour’s non-dom policy roll-out

This had everything: the element of surprise, backing from almost all sections of the media and public and a clear dividing line that placed the Tories on the side of one of the most egregiously privileged groups while Labour was the champion of the mainstream.

The way in which the Conservatives issued three press releases in 12 hours on this one issue illustrated the level of panic it generated.

And the muddled response that the Tories ultimately settled upon – criticising the micro-detail of the announcement while hawking around a partially edited video of Ed Balls from January this year – demonstrated how they crack under pressure.

The obvious move would have been to co-opt the policy, pretend this was something that had long been under consideration and use it to illustrate how we are all “in it together.”

It would have been a deft act of political ju jitsu, but instead, the much delayed Conservative response demonstrated an aching lack of judgement.

Once a Labour campaigner, always a Labour campaigner

He might be 82, but Lord Alf Dubs (standing on the left) is still pounding the streets for the party. Labour’s former MP for Battersea (1979-87) was out canvassing for Lee Sheriff in Carlisle yesterday, fresh from a visit to Scotland knocking up for candidates like Gregg McClymont. An example to all.

Samantha Cameron’s interview with the Mail on Sunday

The purpose of these soft focus spousal features is to humanise the leader, to open a window onto their home life. Normally, they fall short. They are too stilted, too focused on the politician with the spouse never rising above adjunct, even in their own interview.

This piece in last week’s Mail on Sunday is different. The candid manner in which Samantha Cameron discusses her deceased son, Ivan, gives the piece emotional heft and lifts it above the standard fayre. Samantha Cameron comes across as her own woman, and by the end it is David Cameron who is the adjunct.

Paradoxically, this is why it works as a piece of propaganda – Samantha Cameron does in fact humanise David Cameron. His bloodless and cold prime ministerial pallor is invigorated (somewhat) through his association with a strong woman.

Michael Cashman back in east London 

Ok, it’s not quite Walford, but Michael Cashman was back in east London, campaigning for Wes Streeting in Ilford North. Good on you Michael and here’s a fact to make older readers feel their age – it’s 26 years since he left Eastenders. Yes, really, 26 years.

The bad

Tory attempts at a positive retail offer

Words can barely describe the idiocy of the Tories’ policy announcements in the past week: a rail fare price freeze, three days’ paid volunteering for employees and £8bn more for the NHS.

These policies are not bad per se, far from it, but each fundamentally undermines the Tories’ core message of parsimony and their most effective attack lines on Labour.

When Ed Miliband announced the energy price freeze it was a case of interfering in the market (albeit a heavily regulated one) and an example of Labour being anti-business. Yet when the Conservatives announced a suspiciously similar policy for another regulated market, Conservative spokespeople were inexplicably left without any cogent response to the obvious parallel.

Volunteering is a fine idea but there was not a word from the Tories on how the 3 days’ pay would be found – whether it would be, effectively, a tax on employers or somehow subsidised by government. If this was a policy written on the back of postage stamp, most of the stamp was left blank. No business was to be seen saying anything supportive at its launch and once again, Conservative spokespeople were left twisting in the wind when pressed on funding.

And the sudden commitment to £8bn of extra funds for the NHS was accompanied with not a word of how it would be funded. If Labour had announced such a policy, the party would have been laughed out of the election.

The cumulative result has been to negate the Tories’ attacks on Labour for uncosted spending and anti-business intervention while compromising their reputation for competence. Slow hand clap from all involved. A more balanced media would have torn the Tories apart.

The ugly

Playing the man not the ball

Michael Fallon’s attack on Ed Miliband for “stabbing his brother in the back,” will be talked about in future years as a key point in the campaign, much as the Tories demon eyes poster has been since 1997.

The jury is out on whether this was an effective way of changing the political conversation to the benefit of the Tories, or seen as another example of the “nasty party” reverting to type.

But what is not in doubt is that it was ugly and brutal, a bit like the challenge below from the 1982 World Cup. You know which one it is (and lest we forget, the Germans won the match.)

George Galloway being George Galloway

Likely to be a weekly fixture in this section of the weekly review, Galloway was at it again at the Bradford West hustings.

This time he was claiming that Labour’s candidate Naz Shah, a victim of forced marriage and rape in that marriage, was lying about her experiences. Yes, it is 2015 not 1815, and how George Galloway could possibly know the detail of Naz Shah’s experiences is beyond comprehension, but then when has logic, rationality or even common decency played any role in George Galloway’s electioneering?

Scottish nationalism arrives at the logical end point of all nationalism

When a political movement is built on amplifying division and an identity derived from opposition to other groups, there is only one logical end point.

Most SNP supporters will be appalled by this sort of behaviour, but then most Ukip supporters will not be avowed racists. Yet nationalist parties will always attract extremists that perpetrate these types acts because, the kernel of their ideology is rooted in a sense of exclusivity and ultimately, purity.

Opponents become enemies and traitors are seen everywhere. This is where nationalism leads. The emotion of the SNP’s rallies can be intoxicating but the flip side of that coin is a passion which bleeds into hatred for apostates.

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2 Responses to “Week 2 of the campaign: the good, the bad and the ugly”

  1. Robert says:

    Much easier to look after a disabled child if you have a few million in the bank to pay for helpers carer or nannies, dam sight harder if your living on the min wage, easy to talk about disabled from a richer person view. nobody wants to have a disabled child everyone wants a health baby, but sadly we are not that lucky.

    And when you have labour telling you your child is not that disabled you do not need time off or money, well yes the millions come in handy.

  2. Henrik says:

    @Robert: That’s fucking despicable.

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