A Level Politics

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Brown calls the election for May 6th

Posted by Matt Walker on April 6, 2010

Gordon Brown has finally announced that the date of the general election is May 6th. As he said himself, it was the the worst kept secret in British politics. Being the political trainspotter that I am, I sat mesmerised by BBC News 24 for several hours today, watching the morning’s events loop round and round. By 2pm, I knew the opening salvos of the party leaders off by heart!

So what did we learn this morning? Well, the prime minister launched his campaign outside 10 Downing Street, and behind him stood the Cabinet. Brown emphasised that he belonged to a team. He might as well have said, “I know you don’t like me but look, you’re voting for these guys too”. He also emphasised that anything other than a vote for Labour would risk the recovery. He then went to Kent to meet and greet people in a supermarket. Labour are going to run a non-glitzy campaign, trying to get ‘closer’ to the people.

David Cameron’s approach was very different. He stood across the Thames with Parliament over his shoulder, suggesting to voters that he was an outsider who could reform and change British politics, society, and economy. Gone was the negativity of the Conservative Party conference last October. Rather, there were sunny uplands to be had, as long as the country ditches Brown. Unlike Brown, Cameron stood alone – the one-man band; his party’s greatest asset. Cameron then went to visit a Birmingham hospital, trying to bolster his party’s position regarding the NHS.

Nick Clegg chose to launch his campaign at Liberal Democrat headquarters, with his party’s greatest asset, Vince Cable, standing next to him. With Cameron pitching himself as the outsider and the man for change, journalists have been challenging Clegg on how he too can pose as such. Clegg emphasised how the Lib Dems were different, and would pursue different policies to the ‘same old’ Labour-Tory club. But of course Clegg can also play the ‘man-of-change’ card.

So we have 30 days to go. Those who analyse elections (poshly known as psephologists) often write after elections that the campaign did not make much difference to the result. This election may be different. Not only are the polls close but they are also volatile. Many people simply haven’t made up their mind. Furthermore, with the leaders debates to come, no one quite knows what impact this will have.

Anyway, it would be nice to have a constant stream of discussion during the campaign so please leave comments throughout.


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