I think we can look forward to the announcement of an election date shortly. We’re at the stage of last-minute manoeuvres.
Speaking of which, you may recall that Labour sent two last-minute text-messages before the 2001 election; one mocking the hard-drinking cap-wearing then Tory leader William Hague and one promising longer licensing hours. Years later, and on the eve of an election announcement, we finally see some action on “flexible closing times”.
But let’s get down to yesterday’s meat and two veg…
BBC – In full: Blair speech
BBC – Blair stresses prosperity goals: Tony Blair says his party’s next manifesto will be “unremittingly New Labour” and aimed at producing “personal prosperity for all”. The prime minister is trying to draw a line under speculation over the state of his relationship with Gordon Brown with the speech in Chatham, Kent. He said that prosperity meant both individual wealth and ensuring “radically improved” public services. He also claimed Labour was more ideologically united than ever.
Telegraph – Blair postures where Thatcher revolutionised: The central purpose of New Labour is to increase personal prosperity and wellbeing, not just for a few, but for all. Thus the Prime Minister yesterday, in his first practice run for the hustings. As a philosophy, it’s only marginally more controversial than admitting being in favour of motherhood and apple pie, yet, like so much else in his long speech yesterday, it bears only a nodding acquaintance with what his Government has really done in its first seven years.
Guardian – Blair sets out campaign stall: Tony Blair yesterday set the stage for a “pocket book” election in which he hopes to fend off New Labour’s opponents by harnessing Britain’s thriving economy to promote “personal prosperity and well-being” for all classes in society.
Guardian – Blair’s reality gap: Yesterday the prime minister’s first political speech of the election fired the opening salvo. It was a standard Blair speech, electioneering by numbers, as he laid out the fundamentals of Labour’s claim to govern again next time. Number one – colour it white – the sound economy, without which nothing else. Then follows a long list of all Labour has done, mostly impressive and true. But not always the only truth.
Independent – Blair pays tribute to ‘the most successful Chancellor since war’: Tony Blair took steps to heal his rift with Gordon Brown yesterday by accepting the Chancellor’s criticism that the Labour government had not fulfilled the hopes the nation had when it came to power in 1997. In a speech launching Labour’s “long campaign” for a 5 May general election, the Prime Minister lavished praise on Mr Brown, who he called “the most successful British post-war Chancellor”. He vowed to fight the election on an “unremittingly New Labour” ticket and put the economy at the heart of the campaign. “Everything we do must be for this one central purpose: increased personal prosperity and well-being for all,” he said.
Here’s an extract from a comment I made on Boris Johnson’s site the other day: So the rift is healed (or not a rift at all) and the economy is central to election strategy. Fair enough. It worked in the US and in Australia. Everyone’s making money, and the other guys will make you poor. Or quite possibly dead.
And here’s an interesting rumour that popped up on Usenet, posted to the same comments thread: Essentially, the Brown Camp within Labour do not want a huge majority at the next election; a result that would strengthen Tony Blair in the immediate aftermath. They believe that there are real ideological issues between the two men that would translate into different government agendas under either of the two leaders. That being the case, they would expect a third Labour landslide to be followed by a purge of their man and themselves, unless there wasn’t a landslide.
Caveat: This is supposed to come from a “highly placed and well-informed” Tory… but I’ve also heard it refuted privately by more than one person in the Labour Party.
But if Blair does come through with a strong victory based on values that are “unremittingly New Labour” (here we make a petty remark about Bush’s – *snigger* – mandate), I think we can expect to see – at the very least – a lot of Brownies left out in the cold.
For those who are wondering about my role in the upcoming election… yes, I was teasing you when I posted this. Kind of.
In 2001, only 59% of the population voted. This was the lowest turnout since 1918 (and that was probably due to a lot of the electorate being underground at the time).
I’m going to be targeting those who see Blair’s win to be inevitable and the alternatives to be less-than-ideal. I want to show these people that there is a point to voting and (hopefully) encourage them to vote pragmatically and/or strategically.
I also want others to see through the barrage of bullshit that’s bound to come our way via mainstream media. To do this, I need to position myself in a way that allows me to subvert not only Blair’s campaign message, but also Howard’s and Kennedy’s where necessary.
The primary purpose of this activity will be to combat bullshit in general and reduce Blair’s majority in order to ensure that there is a strong and effective opposition – that knows that they too are answerable to the public.
The posters have been designed and a test-run of t-shirts is due early next week. The site is 75% ready, banners and buttons are completed. Ground-work has already begin to ensure that we take control of major search terms relating to the election and possibly key issues/candidates. Proxy-bloggers, you especially need to prepare yourselves for battle on this front.
A nifty Flash show (of the fun variety) has been waiting in the wings for weeks and last night I fell upon the ideal soundtrack for a follow-up (of the awesome variety).
If you think you’re going to just sit out this election and make up your mind on the day… think again. I want you on our side and I want you active in the coming weeks and months.
This will mean – at the very least – some time and real estate on your weblog, but I will also be asking you to reach into your pockets and get off your arse and do stuff.
The major parties have cash and mainstream media on their side, and armies of people that collectively will have a greater impact than you if they’re willing to do what you’re not and simply get out on the streets.
So… is it going to be big? Well, that’s up to you.
Is it going to be clever? Well, I certainly hope so.
The one thing I can guarantee is this: it’s going to be fun.
Democracy is choice. You heard it here first.
UPDATE – Blair and Brown: Fiend explains it all!
Oh, and Gina Snowdoll reports that Alastair Campbell has been smiling at strange women on Victoria Road. Of course, this is nowhere *near* as intersting as Margot Wallstrom starting a weblog, but I’m sure you’ll get over it.