Gosh it is a long time since 1979. Upfront I should say that I am not a particularly political animal – I’m a bit like my father who categorized the parties as “All as bad as each other”, or my grandfather who stood as an independent candidate in Wolverhampton in the distant past because he didn’t think the other candidates were representative of the population. Apparently he did very well – but I have no idea of the year or constituency.
What it is worth saying is that there comes a time when a change is needed. In my opinion, like 1979 that time is now. The big difference now is that there is less of a clear distinction between the parties. In the intervening years they have all gravitated towards the centre. Has anyone heard much of phrases like “right wing”, “socialist”, “left wing” during this campaign? Didn’t think so.
In 1979 I was a young business student, and Thatcher represented a clear change, a clear alternative to ropey Labour governments, Union led Britain and rubbish piled in the streets. Admittedly it was brutal after the election and for a few years afterwards, but she was a leader, and the country changed – it needed to. When Blair won, it was at a time when the Tories were past their peak, they had been in power too long. The good early Thatcher year politicians had given way to grey, weak people. Again the country needed change and for the first few years Blair (or was it Brown as Chancellor?) delivered.
My dilemma is this: when a country needs change, it needs new, fresh thinking and clear, real leadership. I just can’t see it in the current crop of leadership candidates. Cameron is altogether too smooth for his own good, can look flustered and seems to base everything on “not doing what they did”; Clegg is a more impressive man but at best will have an influence on a hung parliament (never a good long term plan), and frankly Brown is not a leader – after all of the years poking away at Blair to get his chance he has blown it – my guess is that he is not a pleasant man at all. Incidentally are we sure he said “bigot”? It has been suggested that he actually said “big foot”.
So what to do? Well I will vote for change. Not out of massive confidence in anyone, but out of the recognition that things are cyclical and that the current Government is past it. If this sounds downbeat, it is. In my humble opinion we are not in for a period of massive and invigorating change, rather a period of turgid policies and tax rises (whoever wins) out of which a new leader may emerge.
Am I the only one struggling to see anything remarkable at all this time around?