They’re off! Cue the wall to wall television coverage, set the battle busses rolling; go back to your constituencies and prepare for total public indifference. For all the talk of it being the most open for more than a decade the election seems, so far, to be a rather undercooked affair.
The day of the official launch, Tuesday, set the tone for all that has followed. After his trip to the palace Gordon Brown posed for a photo opportunity with the members of the cabinet in Downing Street before heading for St Pancras station to be filmed waddling about on the platform like Paddington’s grumpy uncle. David Cameron made an Obama-lite style speech outside County Hall surrounded by a crowd of rapt Tory activists, most of whom were young enough for ‘Glee’ instead of ‘Newsnight’ to be their favourite television programme. As for Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, he was his usual earnest self, I’m sure he did or said something important; but nobody noticed.
The rest of the country looked on at all this silliness and decided that it was nothing to do with them, perhaps because the hot topic of the campaign so far is whether or not National Insurance contributions should be raised to help cut the deficit. This, depending on your political position, is either a reasonable measure for paying off the national debt whilst maintaining front line services or a recipe for destroying jobs and businesses. What it isn’t though, is the sort of thing that sets the national pulse racing.
However dull the game might be so far it is still possible to hazard a guess as to who might be doing well and who could be heading for disaster if socks aren’t pulled up sharpish.
On my score card the Tories seem to be ahead by a nose, their campaign, for all the party’s lack of policies, seems to have a sense of momentum. The problem for the Conservative high command though is how to overcome the impression that theirs is a one man band, would Cameron look so attractive to the voting public were they more aware of the less than savoury baggage hidden by the glow of his celebrity.
Baggage is also a problem for the Labour Party; in this case it is all labelled Gordon Brown, not wanted on voyage. Less than a week into the campaign and he looks frazzled already, he gave an awful performance at the last PMQ’s of the parliament and the prospect of the live television debates must make the party faithful shudder in anticipation of the potential embarrassment to come.
Of the three party leaders Nick Clegg, surprisingly, seems to be in the best position, although being a Liberal Democrat he probably doesn’t recognise it. He won’t be prime minister come May 7th, but, in the event of a hung parliament, he could play the role of king maker. If, that is, he and his party can summon the guts not to let their biggest chance for eighty years slip through their collective fingers.
And another thing.
Ok so I’d still kill for his short game, or his long one for that matter, but it looks like Tiger Woods has slipped off the pedestal marked ‘hero’ once and for all, even if he has made it back onto the golf circuit.
Never mind the affairs or the lost sponsors, what finally sunk his reputation is the advert he made for one of the ones that stuck by him. The payoff for Nike’s loyalty is a toe curling advert in which a chastened looking tiger is asked by the disembodied voice of his dead father if he’s ‘learnt’ anything from his fall from grace.
He sure has, he’s learnt that sincerity is what matters; if you can fake that you’ve got it made.
And finally, it was announced this week that the rules of Scrabble are to be changed to allow proper names to be used. This might just be the end of civilization as we know it. Next thing you know they’ll be allowing an open verdict to be returned in Cluedo.