By Kulveer Ranger
THE local elections have concluded and Britain’s political parties, which were managing both local campaigning and preparations for the surprise general election simultaneously, are fully focused on June 8.
What did we learn from the local results? Labour are not as popular as they were, but haven’t we all known that for a while? The Liberal Democrats have not yet got their mojo back and will be continuing to look for it over the next few weeks in South West London and South West England – where their leader claims that they represent the views of “the majority” of the country.
The UKIP grassroots support vanished like a puff of smoke. The electorate ran in the opposite direction allowing them to lose 145 seats and gain one, but they described this result as ‘a temporary glitch’.
Their leader claims it will all be alright because they will deliver a policy so clear cut that the voters will flock back, yes – the holy grail for right wing zealots – for “zero net migration”.
The Tories did well and made gains, though it was by no means a landslide.
But these elections were – the clue is in the title – local. Only now that the manifestos are out and eyecatching policies are being promised can we really consider the nation’s mood.
However, the battle lines seem clear. Strong and stable, versus tax and spend.
It was interesting to see that part of Labour’s response to the results was to announce that the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell would now be more prominent
on the campaign trail. He was promptly making his way around the broadcasters promising to increase investment, to tax the rich more and stating “there is a lot to learn from reading Das Kapital”. The legendary Karl Marx tome written in the middle of the 19th century attempts to make the case that capitalism will destroy itself.
In a world where the majority of countries have come round to the fact that a strong economy generates jobs, fills the treasury’s coffers and enables governments to spend on public services, and could even be said to enables democracy to work – should we be looking for inspiration from a dogmatic philosophy that has not really worked over a prolonged period, anywhere, ever?
So when you hear the words “ordinary working people” or even “prosperity shared for all, not just for the privileged few but for every single one” – words Marx may have been proud of – they will be coming from May. She is placing herself as a leader campaigning as a pragmatist and a centrist. For when the offer on that table is one of extremes, my bet is we the people do seek strong leadership that they may not entirely like but respect.
Kulveer Ranger FRSA is a former vice-chairman of The Conservative Party, mayor of London adviser director and a co-founder of Modern Britain