By Simon Gentry
The Conservatives have read the nation’s mood and it is reflected in their manifesto and campaign. And, according to the polls, it will win them a comfortable majority.
Over the last few years, we’ve suffered through a national political psychodrama, played out in homes, workplaces and, most obviously, in parliament. There can be very few living in this country who do not have an opinion on Brexit and who have not voiced it. We know where we stand on this, the most divisive of issues.
The Labour Party, in what is a radical manifesto by anyone’s standards, is promising not only to put us through a second Brexit referendum, and likely a second referendum on Scottish independence. They also promise a major reorganisation of the way our economy works. Not just widespread nationalisations but much greater control of companies by their ‘workers’ and consumers. One might argue that Brexit will pale in comparison to Corbyn’s radical economic restructure.
And that is the key message of the Conservative Party’s campaign. They are offering only one thing: a return to the days when friends did not fall out over politics, when the public could safely ignore politics between elections, when things were normal.
From personal experience talking to voters in marginal London seats, the strategy seems to be working. Labour’s proud boast of its radicalism is frightening to some. A fear that the psychodrama will continue, that the division implicit in Labour’s slogan, ‘For the many, not the Few’, means that we will not see an attempt at national healing. The culture war we’ve seen in the Brexit debate, allegedly between educated well-off metropolitan Remainers and ignorant, poor, Northern Leavers, will be turned into a class war.
In contrast, the Conservatives are offering to get Brexit ‘done’ and allow the country to get on with arguing about NHS and schools funding. Hence a Conservative manifesto which promises nothing radical, very little that is new and to only spend a few billion more a year on public services.
If the polls are to be believed, the Tories have called this election right. The public does seem to want an end to the Brexit angst, the division and public bitterness. On the doorstep, Labour voters are attracted to the Tory offer, and whilst loyal to the Labour Party they are fearful of Corbyn and McDonnell. Will they switch party? Probably not, but they could stay at home.
In doing that they will help the Conservatives to a majority, close phase one of the Brexit story and help the country return to something like a normal political landscape.