Britain has called a general election for a new Parliament, to be held on May 6th. Looking at today’s Telegraph, I came across what appears to be Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s main argument for giving Labour a new majority: “the Tories will screw things up worse than we have.”
Gordon Brown says Conservative election victory would threaten economy
The Prime Minister told a London news conference David Cameron’s ”big society means big cuts in public services.
”It’s a risk for our mainstream public services that Britain cannot afford to take.”
Mr Brown was attempting to shift the election spotlight away from Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s recent poll successes and back on the substantive issues like the economy.
He said Labour was in the ”futures business” with bold and ambitious plans for the country, while the Tories were in the ”risk business”.
Then again, the Conservatives under Cameron don’t seem all that different from Labour, these days. They’re certainly not Thatcherites.
What’s truly surprised me is the strength of Britain’s main third-party, the Liberal Democrats. Formed from a merger of the old Liberal Party and the Social Democrats, I don’t believe it’s ever been the official Opposition(1), the number two party in Parliament, let alone formed a government. But the polls show they’re currently in second place and perhaps have momentum. Could they wind up forming the government? Part of a coalition with Labour? The party is a strong believer in individual liberty in the tradition of John Stuart Mill, but their commitment to social liberalism with its inherent high taxes and extensive welfare state seem at odds with this.
And again I ask, given Labour’s track record, the Conservatives’ promise to not change too much, and the Lib-Dems’ official support of an expensive welfare state, is there really all that much daylight between the three? And, if there isn’t, will the dissatisfied vote for the fascist BNP in significant numbers?
(1)The article refers to the old Liberal-Social Democrat alliance polling ahead of Labour in the 1983 general election, in which the Conservatives won a crushing majority, but Britain’s “first past the post” system gave Labour the second-highest number of seats.