Friday, May 09, 2008

Melanie Phillips on recent UK elections (and a green skeptic mayor)

Melanie Phillips is not happy with government in the UK. (You may file that under "Understatement".) But she does let us know that the electorate in London has pulled off a bit of a revolt. From Brown crumbles; but do the Tories get it? (Daily Mail, 5 May 2008):

Not surprisingly, the Tories are ecstatic at the local election results. And they are to be congratulated on running a smooth, disciplined and shrewdly judged campaign, not least in London where their strategy of getting out the anti-Ken vote paid dividends in the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor.

But there is a distinct risk that the Conservatives will misinterpret their great victory. Already, there are claims that it has vindicated the Cameroons’ strategy of tacking to fashionable Left-wing thinking in order to head off any charge that they are just the ’same old Tories’.

This is to misunderstand what happened in London. For Boris’s appeal was not as a representative of the new look, politically correct Conservative party. On the contrary — his appeal was to be the gloriously politically incorrect, anti-politics candidate. As one voter told canvassers: ‘I’m not voting for you Tories; I’m voting for Boris instead.’

It is the very things that get Boris into such trouble — his shambolic manner, his inability to be diplomatic, his grandstanding instinct to do anything to get a laugh — that make people adore him. Even though party minders zipped up his mouth during the campaign, his appeal is that of someone who will never be corralled by any political machine.

And Boris was running against the quintessential machine politician.

Ironically, Ken’s original appeal eight years ago lay in his image as the Labour anti-Labour candidate. A vote for him was a kick in the teeth for the out-of-touch political elite. But then Ken himself turned into a key member of that elite — and what a distasteful, corrupt and arrogant spectacle it was.

A vote for anti-politician Boris therefore does not necessarily mean a vote for the Tories. Boris himself grasped this immediately when, in his acceptance speech, he said people shouldn’t think for a minute that London was now a Tory city.

For those of you tired of global warming hysteria, take heart. From later in the same article:

The triumphant Cameroons are in danger of missing the point that what happened last week was a mighty vote against Labour rather than an endorsement of the Conservatives. Indeed, such an endorsement would make little sense since, among the issues that most cheese off the electorate, there’s precious little to choose between the parties.

There’s no more delicious example of this than global warming. For the Cameroons, green policies are their totemic proof that the party has moved with the times. But Boris is actually a green sceptic who has called environmentalism a religious phenomenon and mocked green policies as ‘pagan yammering for sacrifice’.

And on this, he is far more in tune with the public who, sceptical of global warming hysteria, are deeply unimpressed by the prospect of green taxes. Indeed, Mr Brown is reported to be about to ditch the proposed rise in fuel duty in a panicky attempt to assuage public fury. So where does that leave the Cameroon carbon crusaders?

Read the whole article here.

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