Nick Clegg has won his campaign to get Gordon Brown to appear before the Iraq Inquiry before the next election. Technically it’s a Tory effort too but like with the Gurkhas, Clegg’s been putting in the leg work at PMQs and the Tories have coasted in behind. Not only has he achieved this, him and his deputy Vince Cable are doing well at getting their message across from bank regulation to training for young people. Why? Mr Clegg is benefiting from the unofficial start to the parties’ election campaigns.
There’s an election coming up, everyone knows it. Parties know it, voters know it, and the media knows it – and they’re especially important here because they’ve got a duty to be balanced. Lib Dems always benefit in the polls when an election is called because they get more coverage – they’ve not yet got a poll bounce but they’re getting more coverage.
There isn’t an official election campaign and the official date isn’t yet known, but Labour and the Tories both started their campaigns at the turn of the new year. The media has recognised this and you can see that channels and stations are making a conscious effort to be as balanced as possible.
It’s ironic that both Labour and the Tories haven’t done so well out of their election campaign starts. The Tories have been pressured on the marriage policy, which has been given the increased scrutiny that election coverage requires. Labour had a last wobble about whether they wanted Brown as their leader and have now backpeddled on the line they were going to take into the election: Labour investment vs Tory cuts.
The Labour party doesn’t really have a strategy at the moment. Balls and Brown have been forced to express their admiration for the middle classes, but because Harriet Harman was able to barter a stronger position out of the attempt to remove Brown, she’s being given more coverage for her class agenda. The party is between two solid bedrocks of policy and instead is deciding to tread water in a gully between them. The problem this presents is that the position is too weak to build any kind of solid manifesto upon it and they’ve not got much time: there’s an election coming up don’t you know.