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From across the Big Pond: The UK Election week two
By Andy Walsh
The campaign was livened up recently by the figure of the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. During a visit to Rhyl in North Wales, a man threw an egg at Mr Prescott who turned around and thumped the man with an impressive left jab.
The TV footage of this event was played time and time again. Everyone and their dog seemed to have an opinion about Mr Blair's deputy getting involved in a street brawl. MPs of all parties were interviewed and asked about their views. He has been both condemned and praised. Was it self-defence or a reckless act by a politician who should know better.
The general populace as a whole have been rather impressed by Mr Prescott's pugilistic abilities. Instead of being roundly condemned, he has been praised for being seen as a human being. In an otherwise carefully stage managed campaign by all sides, John Prescott's punch allowed a little bit of passion to enter the debate. Indeed, the net effect appears to be the further cementing of the Labour Party's lead in the polls.
No matter what William Hague does, no matter how he savages the Labour Party in debates and speeches, no matter how much he attacks them on tax or further European integration, he makes no impact on the voting intentions of the public. Even the most sympathetic of polls give the Labour party a substantial lead. It looks very likely that he and his party will be heavily defeated in the polls.
The only conclusion from the way the campaign is going is this: the Conservative Party have lost touch with the British people. They have no presence in Wales or Scotland and are only guaranteed parliamentary seats in their own established heartlands. Why is this?
The Labour Party has moved to the centre of British politics. In order to differentiate themselves, the Conservative Party have been forced further to the right. It is a well-established fact that Britain will not tolerate extremists. When the Labour Party swung to the Left during the 1980s, they became unelectable for 18 years. Tony Blair has an acute sense of what the British public want and is ruthless in his pursuit of government.
The Conservatives were even forced to wheel out Mrs Thatcher at a convention in the South of England. She didn't help by saying that she would never let Britain join the Euro, which is at odds with Mr Hague's current policy. She can still enthuse the faithful but she no longer holds any kind of magic with the country as a whole.
The Conservatives simply have to reinvent themselves as the Labour party has done. They need to draw a line under the Thatcher Years and explore the idea of Modern Conservatism in the new millennium. They need to get back in touch with what Britain wants. If the party fails to do this, it may face a further 18 years in the wilderness.
Andy Walsh is a househusband and writer living in Cumbria in the UK. He writes novels, short stories, articles and poems some of which you can read at www.stbrodag.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
'From Across the Big Pond' is available as a syndicated bi-weekly column delivering high quality content to your e-zine or web page. It is intended, primarily, for a US audience and deals with issues and news affecting the UK. © Andy Walsh 2001
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