Friday, April 30, 2010

A Curious Restraint

Last night's TV debate began with a preposterous claim from Gordon Brown. "I may not be popular, but I have 13 years experience: I know how to govern, I know how to manage the economy."

This from the man who pumped up the boom, so creating a catastrophic bust.
This from the man who signed the Lisbon Treaty without the referendum his party had promised.
This from the man who has committed British soldiers with inadequate equipment to an unwinnable and unnecessary war.
This from the man whose covert policy of mass immigration is causing unprecedented population growth, and dangerous fractures in our society.
And the list of failings goes on.

To a lifelong democratic socialist the grotesque excesses and betrayals of 'New Labour' are painful and embarrassing in the extreme. It is beyond belief that Gordon Brown should crawl from the wreck and claim he is a good steward and a safe driver.

So I am puzzled that David Cameron argued with such restraint.
Is he just too much of a gentleman to kick a man when he's down?
Does he believe Brown's claims are so obviously preposterous that they are beneath his dignity to refute?
Maybe his election managers advised he should stress his own agenda, and be wary of increasing public sympathy for the underdog.
He must know that an instinct for the jugular is essential in a prime minister.

Whatever the reason, Cameron had an open goal, but would not kick the ball in. Why?

Maybe his strategy is longer term.
He read the newspapers yesterday. He heard the warning of the governor of the Bank of England: the austerities needed to manage the economic crisis are so severe the next government will be hated for a generation.
His first task as Conservative leader was to break the popular image of the nasty party. He succeeded, but an election win now would destroy years of work, maybe label the Conservatives as nasty for ever.

The winner of this match will lift a poisoned chalice; Gordon Brown has seen to that. In justice he should drink it.
For Cameron the best strategic result may be a hung parliament, with an unstable labour-liberal coalition floundering and failing in government. Let them take the hate and ignominy of managing the austerity, or the disgrace of failing in economic meltdown needing IMF intervention. A second election could not be long delayed, and the Conservative's might inherit a country at the nadir, on the rebound.
A cynical strategy, but that's politics.

I suspect Cameron's prayer is 'Lord make me Prime Minister, but please, Lord, not this time'. 

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