THE TORIES are far less certain of winning the election than they were a month ago. Opinion polls have shown their lead over Labour falling as low as 2 percent.
The quirks of the electoral system mean that could result in a hung parliament—or even Labour winning the general election.
While individual polls should be treated with a level of caution, there is clearly a trend developing. Given the consistent unpopularity of the government, this seems odd.
The reasons the Tories aren’t capitalising on Labour’s crisis are threefold. First, the looming election is focusing minds on the Etonian representatives of the bosses.
Second, all the reasons that Brown is unpopular are policies that the Tories support or want more of—
privatisation, war and cuts.
Third, the Tories’ election campaign has made a difference. Lord Ashcroft is a billionaire capitalist who funds their campaign. He sees paying tax as something just for little people.
That Ashcroft personally selects Tory candidates is a gentle reminder of what the party is really about
and what they represent.
The Tories’ key message is that there have to be severe cuts in public services for the sake of the economy—with a little bit of “family values” and racism thrown in.
And this is precisely why they are doing so badly.
One less reported poll, from PoliticsHome, asked what key policy people are worried about. It shows 40 percent are most concerned that public services will be cut.
Since the Tories are pushing hardest for cuts, Labour is holding on to support, even though it too will slash public services after the election.
Ominously, there are growing voices in the Conservative Party who are pushing for a harsher campaign. They are openly calling for immigration to be made the election issue.
They hope that the Tory tradition of playing the race card will be enough to win the election. Cameron dropped into his speech last weekend that immigration “has been too high for too long, and it needs to be cut, and I will cut it”.
Shamefully sections of the Labour Party are happy to play along. Frank Field, Phil Woolas and others are all happy to focus on demanding yet more curbs on immigration.
But Labour could stop the Tories in their tracks. They could announce no cuts in public services and taxing the rich to fund jobs.
We know the money is there. Bank bonuses alone are set to hit £6 billion, even after the taxpayer forked out £850 billion to bail out the banks.
Instead, between the phone-throwing tantrums, there is Labour’s consistent commitment to pandering to the rich and the market.
So we need to stand up for ourselves. That means taking a principled stand against those who would play with racism. It means looking to left alternatives at the ballot box.
But most importantly it means turning the mood of opposition to cuts into action now.
Throwing our weight behind the 250,000 civil service workers on strike on Monday and Tuesday is as good enough a place to start as any.