Friday, April 16, 2010

If the next two go like last night we could be in sea change territory

I do like being right - even if I was just one of many that was saying much the same thing - and so it comes to pass that Nick Clegg has, on the performance last night, just propelled the Liberals into probably their best position politically for a century.

True, there are two more debates to go and it could all fall apart, but, if the next two go like last night, then 2010 could very well be a sea change moment after all. Yesterday morning this election was simply about two main parties fighting over who could manage the crap we're in best. This morning it is starting to look like the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Until the horses ran in that race it was assumed to be, in the words of a Lib Dem leaflet, a two horse race between a previous winner Denham and last year's winner Kauto Star. There was a third horse in the betting though called Imperial Commander who ended up romping it.

Now, I'm not saying Clegg is Imperial Commander and will be walking into Number 10, rather I'm saying that last night has made the Lib Dems far more serious contenders than they've ever been and is now in a position to create not a Hung Parliament but a new Parliament that more accurately reflects the general political positioning of the country.

Let me put it like this, I genuinely believe that those who think the British public today leans towards the Left are mistaken. The reason Labour won in 1997 was because they weren't the Tories and they were the only "other choice" in a two party system. It wasn't because the public had become social democrats and lifted themselves of the false consciousness of the dreadful capitalist market system.

Basically, they voted for Labour because they were pissed off and it was the only choice. Right now, they're pissed off again. This time though, they're pissed off with Labour, and they've still got nagging feelings about the Tories because of the "drip drip" of Labour spinning. The thing is though, I don't think that drip of nagging doubts by Labour is actually benefiting them any more.

I bet, if you did a poll, you'd find that there is a feeling of "I agree with Labour about the worries of the Tories, but I think they're just as bad". There is a cliche that the election might produce a "plague on all your houses" response, maybe, actually, it will just be a "plague on both your houses" with a major swing in the direction of the Lib Dems instead?

Until now, the Lib Dems have been there, but have been the "also ran". Now they're centre-stage on equal footing with equal airtime. Last night I said that we're now in genuine Hung Parliament territory. If the next two debates go Clegg's way as well, we may actually be about to enter a new period of British politics where the two dominant parties no longer include Labour.

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