Sunday, April 18, 2010

The mould really could be broken this time...

Clegg put a plague on both their houses in his references to Labour and the Tories in the debate. His physical position on the left of the three party leaders on the stage allowed him to turn to the other two and sweep them together as “old politics” with the LibDems being the only offer of true change. This is seductively attractive – especially to a new generation of voters brought up on the X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. Remember this younger electorate chose John Sergeant ahead of real dancers and refused to be told not to. They will have no compunction about choosing the LibDems and Clegg for similar reasons. Headlines like “Cameron says it’s a two horse race” (in The Telegraph”) don’t help the Tories at all – it sounds arrogant and it patently isn’t true. Indeed for years it has been clear that the main thing that stands in the way of Cameron and government is the strength of the LibDems.

I first became interested in politics as a fifteen year-old at the time of the Orpington bye-election in 1962. Orpington promised that the old order could be shattered and it was very exciting at the time - but it didn’t happen of course. Then in the early 1980s I became one of the first members of the SDP who similarly tried to break the mould. That didn’t happen either. Now, for the first time potential mould-breaking may be happening during a General Election campaign. It may run out of steam and it may once again be a disappointment for those who want real change. But the chances of the mould being shattered for good are higher now than ever before in modern Britain. I hope that it happens.


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