The 6th May, the date that has been on everyone’s tongue for the past few weeks, has finally been proclaimed as the date for the 2010 election. Firstly, Gordon Brown sought approval from the Queen, and soon following, he announced it to the public and press. This pronouncement has started what will be possibly one of the most tense election run ups in British history; Cameron hailing it the most important general election in decades. All 3 main party leaders have no doubts that they could be the next to get their feet under the table at number 10.
With the campaign already well underway despite only being officially decided at 10am this morning, one can notice a distinct difference in the style of campaigning from the 3 main parties. Brown was joined by his cabinet outside number 10 to appear as ‘one man in a team, not a one man team’, one which can continue to drive the UK out of recession, and to keep the idea of cabinet government alive in what is to be a presidential style campaign. Whether this is how the public perceive it, or whether it seems like a weak facade to hide his party and personal scandal, the splits, and attempts to oust him as leader, will come out in the voting. Also of significance was the repetition of the word ‘mandate,’ with Brown pleading with the public to give him the legitimacy to govern, which he lacked after not being properly elected to the position of PM in 2007.
Cameron on the other hand, opted to stand alone, his own strength and charisma of character being what his party depend on. Cameron is perhaps better suited to this style of presidential government the UK is gradually edging further towards. Although, what Cameron did offer was little more than empty words. As uplifting and inspiring as his speech was, the substance was lacking. Yes, we want change (the word Cameron opted to repeat incessantly), yes we want energy and enthusiasm, but what lies beneath this is what the public really want to know. We have had a few snapshots of what is to come; cuts in waste at Whitehall, scrapping the Child Trust Fund for the wealthier, keeping up standards in the NHS, but the real mechanics of conservative policy is probably the best kept secret in politics. Although a criticism of the Conservatives, the other main parties are equally hollow as they are vying to keep up with the Jones’s in the apparent presidential league.
Nick Clegg stayed away from the scene of the other two, possibly shooting himself in the foot in presenting himself as the outsider, or, conversely, as the man to initiate real change and distinction from the other two parties, which is needed to break the traditional two horse race under FPTP. It’s often smoke and mirrors in politics.
But what is clear is that with partisan dealignment a growing force and the election ultimately in the hands of the floating voters, the next 30 days are hugely significant for British politics. It is all go for the parties, the conservatives have a 10 point lead according to The Times, and only a 4 point lead according to The Guardian. The Lib Dems are only lagging behind 10 points behind Labour. Campaigning all across the country, leafleting, and pledges will fill our lives for the next month, with the threat of a hung parliament potentially becoming a bitter reality if one party doesn’t stand out as the best party to sway the electorate.