Most political commentators are now hedging their bets in terms of what will happen after the General Election. Nick Robinson talks about a “growing expectation” that David Cameron will be Prime Minister but then fudges it by saying that we “can’t know the outcome”.
I am prepared to make a firm prediction, however. If the polls stay as they are and there are no last minute shifts, there WILL be a Tory Government with a small (10-20 seats) majority.
And what will happen then?
It is pretty easy to predict that too.
An emergency budget within weeks in which Chancellor George Osborne (and doesn’t that strike terror in the heart?) will solemnly tell the nation that “the books are so much worse than we expected”. So VAT up to 20% (maybe 25%) and an immediate public sector jobs freeze and pay freeze (if not a pay cut) coupled with a massive reduction in budgets and a suspension of most public sector capital spending. This will be softened by an emergency Bill to “enable” the “Big Society” (or the post -bureaucratic state as they originally wanted to call it).
This will enable the Cameron Government to tell the public that they don’t need to worry about the cuts in schools budgets or the collapse of SureStart or whatever else it might be, because local effort can provide alternatives or keep things going. Hopi Sen brilliantly explains what the impact of the Swedish Schools model would mean and Luke Akehurst has the reality of “The Big Society”.
In practice, very few people will have the inclination or the opportunity to organise alternative “community-led” provision and those that do will not be the low-paid, the marginalised or the dispossessed. And they certainly won’t be those whose families are hit by the job losses in the public sector or the double-dip private sector recession that will be precipitated by an Osborne emergency budget.
Meanwhile, Cameron’s small majority will give disproportionate influence to the fanatic Euro-sceptics and climate change deniers in the Parliamentary Conservative Party. To keep them sweet, the UK will become totally marginalised in Europe and allied with the Sarah Palin wing of US politics – the result will be the forfeiture of Britain’s position in the world.
So an isolated, bankrupt nation with devastated public services beckons after Thursday.
It is not an enticing prospect, is it?
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to happen.
Yes, there will be a Tory Government according to the present polls.
But, there is still time. It only takes one in thirty Tory voters to realise that the Conservatives are still “the nasty Party”, one in ten of those flirting with the LibDems to realise that Nick Clegg is really Cameron-lite and decide they don’t want to help him deliver a Conservative Government, and one in ten of those that were planning not to bother to vote to realise what is at stake and that their vote matters and that their really can be “a future fair for all”.
It is not that many and all that needs to happen is that they listen to this in the next twenty-four hours.