English politics is currently in an interesting phase, or its blandest and most anodyne for years, depending on which commentators are read. The first Coalition government since the Second World War was meant to usher in a new era of co-operation and moderation in Parliament, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The coalition agreement between Prime Minster David Cameron’s Conservative Part and Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats seems to be coming apart at the seams. It is hard for the Liberal element to point to any significant successes, and their frequent response that they have reined the Conservatives# worst tendencies in has not played well with much of the core support.
Their figures have dipped in the polls to single figures, a decline which has been matched by gains for the anti-European Union UK Independence Party. This right-of-centre party formed around the single issue of Britain leaving the UK, although it has a much broader manifesto than that now. It talks tough on dog whistle right wing issues such as immigration, and seems to be leeching support from the Conservative Party.
This situation has prompted talk of a pact between the Tories and UKIP. UKIP leader Nigel Farrage has spoken bullishly about this idea, ruling it out while David Cameron still leads the Conservatives. He indicated that he would only consider such a pact if current education secretary Michael Gove became Tory leader.
This has not helped shore up Cameron’s increasingly shaky support from within his own party, which looks to be set for one of its periodic blood lettings over the issue of Europe. He must be casting nervous glances indeed at rising support for UKIP, a party he labelled a loony bunch of “closet racists” in 2006.
The official Opposition, the Labour Party, meanwhile, must be rubbing their hands with delight at Cameron’s internal problems. Indeed, they are enjoying a massive lead of around a consistent 10 points in most polls currently. Their recent thrashing of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat opponents in the Corby by-election showed that they seem to be a party moving forward.
Britain’s largely right-of-centre press are still not sold on the idea of a Labour government though, despite Cameron’s fumblings. The personal poll ratings of leader Ed Miliband, while rising, also remain frustratingly low for Labour low. Often attacked for a lack of real policy, Miliband, along with his Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, look to be playing the long game, with the next General Election scheduled for 2015.
However, one recent event really summed up the state of English politics currently for many people. That was the embarrassingly low turnout, below 10 per cent in some areas, for November’s Police and Crime Commissioner Elections. the low turn-out and abnormally high number of spoiled ballots showed that the English people were not very keen on an election many thought was a stupid waste of time and money in the dark days of November.
Addressing that cynicism and distrust of the political class is worrying for all in Parliament at the moment. They must be hoping that they can improve matters in that regard soon