Thursday, 6 October 2011
The Party Conference Season Ends – Which Leader Impressed You Most?
David Cameron, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party, gave a speech to his party’s conference on Wednesday which brought the political party conference season to an end. It was a surprisingly upbeat speech from Cameron, coming as it did on the day that growth figures for the UK economy were revised downwards, to a paltry 0.1% for the second quarter of 2011. He called on the British people to fight our way out of the dire economic situation we find ourselves in, saying we must have a ‘can do’ attitude. This is particularly hypocritical, given the way the government refuses themselves to do anything positive to aid economic recovery. As I reported here the only thing the government is going to do, other than making deep cuts in public services, is to print more money, which was swallowed up by the banks to improve their balance sheets, the last time this tactic was tried. No can do, seems to be the government economic policy, so why should the public listen to all this patriotic rhetorical nonsense?
The more I see of Cameron, the more I am minded of the Flashman character in the novel Tom Brown’s Schooldays. It is ironic that Flashman the public school bully, turned out to be a coward in the end, and surely people will see through Cameron, as the public relations man he is. Cutting benefits and public services for the most vulnerable in society, while throwing more money at the banks who caused our problems, and of whom he is scared to death of upsetting.
At least Ed Miliband, uninspiring a speaker though he is, talked about the need to change the current neo liberal economic consensus and strike a ‘new bargain’ in the way the capitalist system operates, particularly attacking the ‘asset strippers’ who wait vulture like to devour the carcases of the businesses and workers that their casino type behaviour have laid low. I think it is too early to say whether Labour really has changed under Miliband’s leadership, he said some interesting things, but he also praised Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government for curtailing worker’s rights and for selling council houses, without replacing this social housing stock. He needs to up his presentational game too, as he comes across as a bit nerdy. Unfortunately, these things matter in modern politics.
And so to the Liberal Democrats. Nick Clegg saw his party’s poll ratings soar in the wake of the leadership debates at the last general election, and this was mainly down to his performance in the debates. The problem for the Lib Dem’s is that many, probably more than half of the people who voted for them, are aghast that this led to a Tory government. Their conference was full of speeches by ministers telling everyone that it was the Lib Dem’s that were putting a brake on the Tory juggernaut, but they bear just as much responsibility for the damaging economic approach taken by the government, raising tuition fees for students, harassing benefit claimants and reducing workplace rights for employees. No amount spin changes this basic position.
The video above is Caroline Lucas, Green party leader, speaking to the Green party conference in September, and she has plenty to say to Lib Dem voters particularly. She has excellent presentational skills, charisma even, but compare the message to what you have heard from the other party leaders. She outlines a genuine alternative to the failed policies of the last thirty odd years, where people are put before profit, where principles are stuck to rather than abandoned for expediency, and where the good society can be become a reality. No contest really.