April 13, 2010
Somebody produced a very funny parody of Cameron Conservatism, a spoof manifesto that was so trendily pretentious as to sum up the marketing guff of David Cameron. I couldn't read it without bursting out laughing at several points. I assume it's meant to have been written by the Conservative spin doctor character from The Thick of It. Either way, it's very funny, so I really urge you to take look: http://media.conservatives.s3.amazonaws.com/manifesto/cpmanifesto2010_lo....
There is, meanwhile, an energy company currently advertising with posters encouraging people to buy less energy - from an energy company. Yes, it's supposed to "shock" readers into thinking that this is so unlikely, that it can't be true, to get us to read the posters in astonishment. Yawn. Anyway, the Conservatives' pitch makes me think of that: a big corporate entity trying to show us that, hey, it's not just a bunch of men in suits, it's a bunch of young and funky people like YOU (no thanks). The Tories remind me of a big company whose website boasts of what they've been doing "in the community", with photos of grinning employees who've just run the London Marathon for charity. Of course, corporate social responsibility and the running of marathons for charity are deeply admirable things, but not when they crop up in cheesy corporate videos and naff advertisements for energy companies or the Conservative Party.
I just saw a Conservative Party Election Broadcast which was totally devoid of content or policy; it was just meant to make us think that a diverse bunch of "ordinary people" (as if there was ever such a thing) is voting Conservative, so YOU can too...Perhaps their slogan should be "Take the politics out of politics". I don't want phone companies to tell me "At X, we want to bring people together" - no, you want to make a profit, and I'm a liberal, so that's OK with me, and jolly well get on with selling me things without all this nonsense.
The Conservative Party resembles nothing so much as an oil company that is seeking to re-brand following a pollution disaster off a protected coastline. I really don't like it. No, really, beyond the fact that I am not a Conservative anyway, I really don't like it. I understand the philosophy that is English conservatism, on which the Conservatives have turned their back. Just as there are liberals outside liberal parties, so there are conservatives outside the Conservative Party. I actually wonder if the truest values of English conservatism - scepticism, moderation and a desire to go with the grain of human nature, not against it - are now better represented outside the Conservative Party than within it. Surely my party, with Vince Cable, is now the party of fiscal and monetary responsibility? If David Cameron claims to be a liberal conservative, can I perhaps claim to be a conservative liberal? Actually, someone did once call me "the Boris Johnson of the Liberal Democrats, but without the charm". Well, I've got the hair.
As Nick Clegg said, it's somehow typical of the Tories to launch their manifesto in a power station that isn't producing power any more. OK, I admit it, the document linked to above actually IS the Conservative manifesto, a document that is frankly beyond parody. My party's manifesto is out on Wednesday, setting out what we would do; meanwhile, here is my party's response to the Tory manifesto: http://www.libdems.org.uk/siteFiles/resources/PDF/2010%20Genera%20Electi... - well worth a read, if you're mistakenly thinking of voting Conservative.
Matthew Harris is the Lib Dem candidate for Hendon.
This blog is part of the JC.com's On The Campaign Trail blog for the Election 2010 where candidates in key Jewish areas have been invited to blog. Read more on our Election 2010 page