Thoughts on 2015 general election campaign
So with the nation currently at the polling station now might be a good time to reflect on this general election campaign.
The verdict from the political commentators is this is not one for the ages. A campaign that has been played safe and lacked inspiration. It has been introspective. Where was foreign affairs, airport expansion, Britain as a trading nation? This inward thinking is symptomatic of austerity. And it is this last point that has dominated debate. The fight to be crowned economically responsible has ended with neither Labour nor the Conservatives crowning themselves in glory. Labour will not admit they will borrow and the Conservatives have provided little detail, trading too much on their existing credibility.
The fine balance of the election has meant that gaffes or risky stunts have been few and far between. So in an election that has been devoid of memorable moments, the only real milestones have been the TV debates. CCHQ may still live to rue their decision keep Cameron away.
Your author may have to eat his words come tomorrow but if the Conservatives fail to win another majority, surely a serious look in the mirror is needed. Maybe even an outside view is needed? They tried to hug a hoodie in and it didn’t work. Then they retreated to economic fortitude and it hasn’t worked. Good economic news and dictating the terms of the parliament and general election still cannot deliver them the win. What would have CCHQ done if they did not have the SNP to help them during this campaign?
Conversely, Labour and Miliband was written off at time this Parliament. An inability to set the political tempo in opposition and having some of the most influential newspapers out to destroy them has made for an uphill struggle. However, it seems many underestimated the UK’s love for an underdog and Labour’s ability to run a tight campaign. Miliband has been resilient and this means he still could be PM.
A special mention goes to the role of social media, which has offered a breath of fresh air. Janan Ganesh of the FT summed it up well by saying that parts of the media have “torn down the wall between news and comment”, with the aim of “provoking a gaffe instead of soliciting insight”. Parts of the traditional media have really blurred the lines, with The Sun even offering money for pro-Conservative stories. It has been social media where some of the best laughs and insight has come from during this General Election. From the Milifandom, to insightful reporting from the spin room and LSE blogs offering meaningful political commentary.
So what lessons does this campaign teach us? It is hard to say. None of the main political parties are presenting a clear message that chimes with a majority. This is propbably a greater reflection of the fragmented world that we live in and it is harder for politicians to inspire. But someone has to win, and someone has to govern. The furious energy of the campaign shows just how important that opportunity remains.