One can only be pleased at a political situation that allows you to use a Marvin Gaye song as your theme.
Anyway. What is going on? We appear to be in the bizarre situation where David Cameron is trying to imitate Nick Clegg. Which is odd, because Nick Clegg is himself the Liberal Democrats attempt to imitate David Cameron imitating Tony Blair. Perhaps we should bring the original back from the Middle East to point out that third generation copies are always a bit degraded and unreliable?
Anyway, The most wonderful aspect of this election is that nobodly really knows what’s going on. I mean, here I am, with Labour in a tough spot in the polls, and my mood is not one of fear or distress, but optimism. To swerve from Marvin Gaye to Buffalo Springfield, something’s hapening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear. This is significantly better than something hapening and it being very clear that the Conservatives are winning.
So, if we don’t know what’s going on, what to do? The answer to the questions that obsess the commentators, bloggers, journalists and party strategists are out there. Somebody, who has gone through the polling data with a fine toothed comb can give a confident answer as to whether the Liberal Democrat Surge comes from voters for one party or another, or from those who don’t normally vote, or represents a tactical anti-Labour or anti-Conservative movement (or both), or whether it represents a genuine outpouring of affection for the Liberal Demcrats, or simple disgust at politics as usual. That person is an unrecognised genius.
Unfortunately there will be quite a few people going through the same data, with the same intellectual firepower, and reaching very different conclusions. Those people are deluded sods and are completely and utterly wrong.
The problem is, no-one can tell which is which.
So you can take your pick on the theories behind the polling. The one major certainty for Labour is that if the Liberal Democrats take one or two net points from the Conservatives, then the bar for “success” (defined in narrowly parliamentary terms), becomes much lower. A 1992 level of vote support (31%) would be enough to secure largest party status in a hung parliament. A Liberal Democrat surge, also, of course, makes it harder to achieve that level of support.
When faced with an impasse like that, my suggestion is to go back to what matters. What will attract voters to Labour? A message of growth and renewal, a focus on economic growth and jobs, on fairness and reform for frontline public services and suppor for low and middle income families, alongside a renewal of our politics. Our enemy in this election are not just a party, but a set of ideas that opposes what Labour stands for.
In one sense, the current media obsession (of talking about the Liberals, and doing down David Cameron, who is increasingly beginning to resemble Thomas E Dewey, with his careful selection of powerfully delivered platitudes) affords Labour an opportunity. For the first time in several years, the right wing press is not focussed on doing us down. Instead, they are focussed on doing the Liberal Democrats down.
We have to sieze this chance to be the only party that appears to be talking about the economy, jobs and the future, while the media (unfairly) demand answers from Clegg on who he would support, and the Tories alternate between trying to be Nick Clegg, and trying to stone him to death without anyone noticing their stone flinging.* In that way, we can creat some clear political space between Camerona’s waffle, and Clegg’s avoidance of questions of deals and endorsements.
Will this work? Well, it certainly seems a better plan than the alternatives.
That is usually a good sign.
*Poor Tim Montgomerie. He appears to accepted the role of Liberal-Basher in Chief. Plausable deniability has never worn so thin