When drafting this I had an unanticipated tangent emerge – I was going to use the Cheltenham result to discuss the Lib Dem collapse and the very blue map of the south west. However, for all the revelry I can understandably take part in – the first Tory majority since ’92, beat the polls by miles, c’mon! – there was something I could not escape nor ignore.
Labour’s poor electoral performance has been that: a poor performance, but not through lack of trying. While campaigning in the Halesowen and Ragley Regis constituency we bumped into a number of Labour canvassers; they were dedicated and putting in a heck of a lot of effort to take this West Midland seat off us. But when I stepped into the news agent and saw the leader of their party being portrayed in any number of awkward ways on the front of the tabloids my heart sank a little. It is supposed to be the campaign on the ground, the debate of the issues, the discussions with and between voters that drives the election: all of which I hope most readers will agree with – policy not personality.
Brown suffered from attacks by the media, this time round for Miliband it has been another level, more vicious, more ruthless. I’m not a fan of Miliband – the image of him being chased around a table in a meeting room in the Kremlin by Putin while discussing the Ukraine makes me chuckle I’ll admit – but this has just been nasty, I thought we were done with being the nasty party? Detoxifying, modernising, becoming electable to groups previously solidly Labour – take the LGBT community and the pink vote, the Tories were polling level with Labour for the first time with each on 26% – but in many ways we have failed to do so. The attacks on Miliband are probably the best example of this – every opportunity, BAM! look the infamous bacon sandwich et cetera et cetera and they steadily got worse.
While I am proud of our win, our majority, and the return of solid Conservative governance I can’t help but feel a little ashamed of the way some aspects of the campaign have played out. It has made discussion with others a little uneasy for me at times, not wanting to admit that it has been unfair to their leader, not letting cracks show in the hard blue Tory armour. To those Labour supporters who have worked hard I can only offer my apology. Maybe I should have bit the bullet and said this to someone before the results were in. Given the collapse of Labour’s support and a fall in their total seats, I can’t help but feel this nigh in the gutter politics has helped to give us a majority – and that won’t let me sleep as easy as I hoped….
Economy & Westminster