Monday, January 04, 2010

And So It Begins

Each election campaign will be the longest one ever, until the entire period of a parliament is simply one long election campaign. That must be the premonition as the parties mark a return to political activity by firing off some of their election material today.

David Cameron has made most of the running, although not entirely smoothly. His decision to major again on the NHS is sensible, and as a long-term strategy has significantly shifted people's perceptions of the Tories and the NHS in the same way that Blair shifted perceptions of Labour and crime with his 'tough on crime' mantra. But Cameron was a little on the defensive about the decision to place himself as the focus of a new poster campaign on the NHS, and encountered a policy problem over marriage. He appeared to back-track on promises of a tax break for marriage in an interview with Nick Robinson, which looks a little less than sure-footed, and is also likely to rile the unreconstructed rightists in his own party, as this blog post from the Spectator's Coffee House already illustrates. They were also less than enthused by his decision to front his campaign with the NHS.

And so it begins.....but before we start to worry about weariness, or electoral apathy by the time of the election, we should remember that this is democracy at work. The charge of weariness with politics is futile, negative and callow, and if we want a healthy democracy we should be ready to show the interest in it that it demands. After all, we have just spent the past year slamming MPs for their inadequacies - now let's really investigate their policies, and try and get a parliament that justifies us.

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