Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Manifesto Covers Reveal Real Choice

Confused weary voters bogged down with election nitty-gritty can now use manifesto covers as a quick guide to which rocky road to go down. Not what party you want but what kind of country you want.

You cannot judge a book by looking at its cover. Really? The choice is vividly brought to life in the covers of the two main parties' manifestos. 'Nanny state knows best' or 'people power'.

Much has been made of New Labour's manifesto cover. A retro look, harking back to political posters of a bygone era or a Soviet utopia.

The Orange Party doesn't agree. The images of sunshine and cornfields is more subliminal. Selling false hope and dreams like cornflakes. A Party packaged up like a cereal packet.

A Blair witches brew of all style and no substance. A meaningless manifesto full of false hope to fool voters. That brings back memories of the US presidential campaign. And Obama lampooned as a slick soap star superstar salesman, selling a soap powder dream.

New Labour's book of dreams had at its heart the nanny state. There to help a mindless public where 'Big Government' knows best.

The Tories dark blue hardback book launched today has a sober message in a traditional typeface: "Invitation to join the government of Britain." Stunningly simple, dreadfully dull and a massive gamble.

Between the covers of any manifesto is a vision driven by a leader. Whether that is the Broons or Cameroons. And at last clear dividing lines are emerging - each setting out their 'vision' for the future.

An elected government is just one part of the mixture of competing yet symbiotic elements which make up the amorphous mass of the state. But as the Orange Party has noted before, 13 years in power breeds arrogance. And a government which believes it is the state.

Many voters feel hard pressed to get a cigarette paper between the two main parties when it boils down to policies. Now a debt-ticking time bomb is ticking away in a dire economy leaving little real room for manoeuvre.

But a chasm has opened up. A real difference. A real choice. Instead of selling soap power or cornflakes, Dave's big questions are about the "big society" not big government.

Political parties need to up their game if the election isn't going to end as one big turn off. The election will be won by the politicians who can find a simple, honest way to connect with voters and chime with what they are thinking and worried about.

But after 13 years, the best the Party of Failure could come up with was a mindless exercise from a broken party with broken promises they didn't even keep from last time around.

Freshly scrubbed-up Dave has a promise of his own. But gambling on voters to put trust in him. Between the covers, the Tory manifesto paints a fresh picture of power handed down to voters. Delivering on a promise is the task facing any leader. Time will tell if this is Phoney Blair hype from a slick Party salesman.

But votes have become more savvy. Not because of a dramatic rise in clever people but because time and again a decade of New Labour's failure and disaster has come back to haunt them in the full glare of publicity.

The economic mess, a mad PC world, nanny knows best, big over-bearing government, squandered billions and a 'broken Britain' - the list goes on. But 'broken Britain' can only be fixed if people are given the chance to, er, fix it.

Fixing it in today's Sun, are four ex-New Labour advisers who've been at the sharp end of the scandal of waste, revealing "How Labour blew our billions of taxpayers cash". Schools, the military, the NHS and public sector are flagged up as a 'wasted opportunity' disappearing down the black-hole of useless initiatives and a target-setting culture.

Jones on wasteful and ridiculous public sector "non-jobs". Kerr on the target-setting NHS culture that has "come to infiltrate all aspects of the NHS". Kemp on the MoD's "breathtaking saga of waste and incompetence". Woodhead on "bloated, bureaucratic and bungling world of state education."

"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country," was Kennedy's call to the US, echoed now in the offering from the Dave Party. And that poses the question of what kind of country you want to live in and want for your children.

It took a decade for the country to sink into the current mess. It will take a decade to crawl out of it. In a couple of week's time voters will decide whether to join Dave on a rocky road to recovery or swallow lashings of Brown sauce.

Bottom graphic: The Sun

1 comment:

Braveheart said...

Don't agree.

Labour's cover looks optimistic but alo tells of a journey to be traversed together.

It harks back to the real achievements of previous Labour Governments and how we should be one society, working for all and not riven by class differences. But it also looks forward to a destination.

By contrast, the Tory one looks like an official document: a passport or visa, that you have to apply to "them" to allow you to do something. It says: The Man From the Ministry Knows Best....