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Be careful what you wish for

May 27, 2008

Maybe it’s because I have a six month-old that I have been thinking about fairy tales a bit more than usual…

There has been one story in particular that has stuck in my mind whilst we have had the results, and then the analysis of last week’s by-election in Crewe & Nantwich.

Little Red Riding Hood.

You remember what happens – Little Red Riding Hood goes for a walk to see her grandmother, and meets a wolf along the way. By the time that she arrives at Grandma’s house, the wolf has eaten the old lady, pulled on a nightie, and is lying in wait for the little girl.

But how could this possibly relate to Crewe, and more to the point, Hastings & Rye?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Readers should have no fear, the Little Red Riding Hood in my version is no Tamsin Dunwoody. She is, in fact, the playful spirit of the national electorate.

A little girl, just trying to get by, picking the flowers of daily life, and looking forward to listening to the wise words of her grandmother (the mother of Parliaments) and to see her governing well, and keeping things on track.

But along comes the wolf.

Who could it be?

It just has to be David Cameron.

It’s that same flashing smile!

If the Brothers Grimm had let the Big Bad Wolf talk politics, I bet he would have done a superb PR job: given you a warm feeling about yourself, but with no idea whatsoever about his policies. Just before he ate you.

And the thing about fairy stories is that they attempt to have a universal appeal and application – not unlike the Conservative Party A-list of candidates?

I would hazard a guess that the A-Team offer the same sort of Cameroonian package the country over. Affability, warmth, and a punch-on-your-arm friendliness. But not a commitment on policy between them.

That’s why although there was bluster and froth from Cameron about the 10p tax band, there is no commitment to restoring it when in government. Whilst a huge PR effort was made to coin the slogan vote blue if you’re green (or something like that), there are no environmentalist tax policies to go with it.

And let’s not forget that it was David Cameron who wrote Michael Howard’s manifesto for the 2005 General Election – widely regarded as one of the most right wing Conservative manifestos of modern times.

Whilst it is absolutely clear that the Labour Party has lost its way and its commitment to its founding principles, the electorate should be wary of those Conservative politicians posing as Labour’s harmless, cuddly alternative. We should be careful what we wish for.

Otherwise, a few years down the line, we might start to get pre-occupied with the size of the Prime Minister’s ears, his eyes, and his teeth…

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