This week, the Tories' negative campaign plumbed new depths of combative aggression. As Cameron appears to give up (look at the sheer not-giving-a-toss you can see in his eyes in every speech: he wants to quit, say Tory insiders), they resort to something unprecedented. On their website dashboard, which previously provided multiple reasons to vote blue, the first eight top stories are now the same argument: "The SNP will hold a weak Ed Miliband to ransom".
Boris rams the point home, saying: “There is a kind of chop-smacking relish with which the SNP and Labour in Scotland approach the idea of taxing the sassenachs in London and the South-East in order to pay for things in Scotland.” Worryingly, Tories are not even attacking a single political rival anymore; they're attacking the entire Scottish electorate, and its right to participate in politics and benefit from tax raised across the UK. Rather than running a pro-Tory website, they are anti-Scotland one.
This is unsurprising, though. If there's one thing that's certain about Cameron's Conservatives, it's that they've always defined themselves by what they are not, rather than what they are.
Always on the attack, rarely providing a positive message and vision; the most inspiring part of the Tory message, since 2005, has been "the others are terrible". They've given us the era when politics was mainly about hating others, not any passion for your own cause.
Tony Blair may have made politics all about self-promotion. But David Cameron has reduced it to mere enemy-degradation.
1) Not Gordon Brown
First they were not Gordon Brown; their campaign was little more than character assassination, with even the Tory press them conceding that Cameron's "genius is that he manages to illuminate Mr Brown's weaknesses, and somehow make them appear more egregious than they are". Cameron would, in every comment, spend more time belittling and attacking Brown than suggesting alternatives.
2) Not 'Profligate Labour'
Then they were not the 'terrible mess Labour have left us'.Never before have a government berated the previous government so much. The main Tory narrative for their entire premiership has been the myth that "Labour ruined everything". As Cameron reiterated in the 7-way debate, "there was no money left. Let's think about the consequences of that, think about the consequences of what we inherited and what we had to do". The focus on historic failures allowed them to retain support, despite not offering anything positive, as Cameron admits (although he euphemistically describes it as making "difficult decisions" and "efficiencies in government spending" - nicer phrases than "driving one million to use food banks"). Theirs' was never a government sustained by hope, aspiration and drive - merely by acceptance. People don't love and embrace austerity - they just believe the Tory line that "There Is No Alternative". I know we're uninspiring and depressing - but you're stuck with us.
3) Not Ed Miliband and the SNP
Recently, their selling point became that they were not Ed Miliband. Their hate campaign against Ed didn't work - because not every voter is a 10-year-old bully who wants to - so now they have became not the SNP. Miliband was childishly bullied; and Murdoch chastises his journalists for not being cruel enough to Ed. Even the one self-promotional message that the Tories occasionally flirted with (that they are safe guardians of the economy) was always delivered as an attack on Labour; a contrast with their hopeless profligacy. We are not outstanding accountants; we are just better than Labour at it.
|A poster from the CONSERVATIVE PARTY . Sorry, but where is the information about THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY? What reasons are you giving me to "vote conservative"?|
Where Was The Conservative Message?
Cameron's Conservatives have always had to go on the attack, because they don't have anything to defend. They have never had a strong vision, aims, or values. They briefly pretended to be Green Conservatives, then reached for the 'Big Society' fig leaf. They worship Thatcherite neoliberalism, and are therefore anti-statist, which is hardly a political philosophy for a state's government can espouse. When you haven't got a substantial, positive message, all you can do is drag your rivals down and perpetuate the cycle of negativity.
|Looking as impassioned, visionary and inspiring as ever|
Instead of Cameron, we need a visionary leader: a person with ideas. We need someone who's going to do a lot more than just belittle and berate their rivals. We deserve better.