Cameron’s response to the local elections was to issue a statement saying that he has got the message, “loud and clear” from the electorate. I’m not sure that the message was that clear; but I’m certain that, whatever it was, he hasn’t got it.
It’s not often that I agree with Eric Pickles, but his statement that Labour were going to win hundreds of local council seats across the UK just by turning up looked close to the mark to me. It really didn’t matter a great deal what message Labour used on the doorstep, that part of the result was pretty much a foregone conclusion.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that people have switched from Tory to Labour in any great numbers though – it’s more likely to be an effect of differential abstention. However, back to the Tory reaction.
I’m trying to imagine the scene in Central Office as the team pored over the results and analysed what had happened. It seems to me inescapable that they would rapidly have come to one clear conclusion, which is that people, by and large, don’t like their programme of cuts and austerity. It’s hard to see how they could avoid that conclusion.
It’s what happened next that I’m struggling with. Did some bright spark at the back really come up with the brilliant notion that “we should forget all the things that people didn’t really care much about, one way or the other, and concentrate all our efforts going forward on doing more of the one thing that really deterred people from voting for us?”.
And did all the rest of them really say, “what a brilliant idea, we’ll do it?”. It seems that they’re not so much out of touch with reality as living in an alternative one.