I feel a sense of personal relief about David Cameron’s latest announcement, to the effect that all talk of the next Conservative government matching Labour spending plans will now be abandoned. Thank goodness. I am an earn-little-spend-little old geezer, and until today I was staring at some kind of Weimar Germany/Nazi Germany future in which my savings were all gone, along with any surviving shred of ability to earn any money to replace them. That still may be my future, and the future of many others. But things are now looking up, a bit.
Opposition matters. Oppositions matter. What a government knows will be attacked from across the Commons and in the TV studios is one kind of policy, which they still might do but which has political risks attached to it, as well as the less worrying problem, to a politician, of the policy failing and blowing up in all our faces in a year or two’s time. But what a government knows an opposition will keep quiet about is something else again. The opposition won’t oppose now, and can share the blame later. I still blame Mr Cameron and his party for the mess my country has got itself into, because for a few crucial years they failed to oppose Mr Brown’s spend-spend-spend regime where it mattered, in the form of promises to refrain from such profligacy when themselves elected. But at least they have now done their switch, and Labour wastefulness will now be scrutinised, moderated, and even perhaps significantly curtailed.
I have been reading The Spectator’s CoffeeHouse blog recently, and the cry recently arose there in the comments on such postings as this that the Conservatives have been getting an unfair shake from The Media. Well, yes. That’s what The Media does. But a clear and convincing message, as I recall an earlier Conservative opposition leader by the name of Thatcher proving quite eloquently in the late 1970s, can cut through such bias. The basic reason for Conservative media feebleness in recent weeks, and the consequent bizarre rise in the opinion polls of Mr Brown, who caused the crisis but at least seemed to know better than his opponents how to climb out of it, has been that the Conservatives have had nothing coherent to say. “We wouldn’t start from here – this is all their fault”, as I heard Conservative spokesman for something-or-other Alan Duncan saying only last night on Newsnight, is not a policy; it is a mere accident report. The question now is not: Who the hell did this? It is: What the hell do we do now? Until today, the Conservatives were offering no answer.
It may be wishful thinking on my part, something I often indulge in, but I still hope for a semi-intelligent Conservative government quite soon now, and a Labour electoral melt-down which they will recover from very slowly if at all. And I may yet get to die in my bed, rather than under Charing Cross Bridge.