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All returning to roots as decison day looms

Posted on 28 April 2010 | 12:04pm

I’ve gone back to my journalistic roots today with an interview in the Mirror with Alex Ferguson talking about his roots, and how he has never forgotten them despite all the success and wealth he has enjoyed.

He tells the story of how after the recent Manchester United win against Spurs, he and his wife Cathy had a night out with eight couples, the eight men being former team-mates from his time many decades ago playing with Govan Boys’ Club.

What he said was remarkable was not just that all the couples were still together, but that ‘every single one of them was staunch Labour then and staunch Labour now.’

He was making the point that it is the Tory view of Labour that says once someone has done well for themselves and their families, they somehow ought then to ‘become’ Tories, but that in fact a sense of aspiration is perfectly compatible with the commitment to public services or a belief that we have responsibilities to others.

I have not travelled as much in this campaign as when I was on the road with TB, but when I have been out on the road, as now, I have beeen struck by how different this campaign feels to the one I occasionally catch on the news. There is always something of a dissonance, but I do believe is more exaggerated this time.

The first thing to say is that whilst there is a residual anti-politics mood, a lot of it driven by expenses, I don’t feel the visceral nature of some of the debates at the last election, particularly concerning Iraq. Nor do I detect any  hardening of hostility towards GB. On the contrary, I feel there is more respect for him than for some time, even if a lot of people don’t warm to him.

And I feel of the Clegg phenomenon that people find it interesting, but that it is more of a media thing, which in turn drives the polls, than it is a real shift of the plates.

Meanwhile, I remain of the view that the real story of this campaign so far is the public reluctance, despite so much stacked in his favour, to go  for David Cameron as Prime Minister. It feels almost as though the country doesn’t want to make a decision. But ultimately this is the time when the public has that responsibility, and over the next few days the many undecideds will choose to decide.

If the Clegg bubble bursts, what matters is where the air from it goes. It might go nowhere. It might go left to Labour or right to the Tories. But it is to a large extent there in the first place because people felt emotionally resistant to both. The question is to whom the resistance is greater.

GB is GB and everyone pretty much knows him. They know his strengths and hopefully they will be on full display in the final TV debate tomorrow. They  know Cameron a bit better than they did. But the Cameron who has come over in this campaign is not the Cameron who first burst on the scene with talk of radical change to the Tory Party. The one I keep seeing is a pretty standard right-wing Tory who as the campaign has gone on has become a bit exasperated that people are not quite buying him, and bemusement as to why he is not home and dry.

He is also getting posher and posher. We’re all returning to our roots. 

* Buy The Blair Years and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.

  • olli issakainen

    David Cameron is a man who has managed to lose a poll lead of 28 points by making numerous unforced errors and U-turns. He would not make a competent PM!
    Unfounded Cleggmania appears to have started fading away.
    With so many voters still undecided, Labour must go for a victory. It´s the economy!

  • Hamish

    I love Ferguson’s life-affirming view that people who get a bit well off don’t “become” Tories.

    The whole tenor of Cameron’s campaign is that it is somehow his right to be PM. There’s a regal flavour to it – a sort of Royal It’s a Knockout resonance that surely no-one will buy when it comes to the final straight.

    The major killer for me so far (hard to choose from the many) was the X-Factor style competition for schoolkids – all about victory (and on the flip side dashed hopes) rather than a celebration of the nation’s talents. And to come out with something so desperately gimmicky when the noises on meaningful policy from the Tories are so faint was absurd.

    Election campaigns will always have an element of sloganeering about them – and stunts – but this much?

    His nonsense about the Big Society with all the unanswered questions about the size of the state required to administer localised inventions. I would not be surprised if this hadn’t come to him after a few glasses of Chardonnay in front of the telly watching High Society.

    What Britain needs is substantial leadership underpinned by deep principles, not his candy floss. 5 years of “Gap Yah” style leadership from DC is an unthinkable and frightening prospect.

  • Jacquie R

    The big question is, how accurate are the polls? They way they look now, it is curtains for Brown and probably curtains for Labour. Or is it?

    Something occurred to me as we put up our “Vote Labour” poster. Silly, I know, but at this election I felt a a niggle of embarrassment about overtly supporting Labour, the once welcome guest who has stayed too long. Yet,warts and all, I still believe they are the best party to run the country and turbulent economy and will have no hesitation voting for them.

    Could it be that I’m not the only one and there are a lot of people out there shy of admitting they intend to vote Labour? There was a time when Tory voters were embarrassed to admit they would vote Conservative and the polls were hopelessly wrong. Perhaps the table has turned and there’s everything to fight for?

    Be interested to know what others think.

  • Dave Roberts

    I assume that this written before GB’s latest outburst in Rochdale today?: “Nor do I detect any hardening of hostility towards GB. On the contrary, I feel there is more respect for him than for some time, even if a lot of people don’t warm to him.”

  • s chapman

    GB – dead and buried unlucky AC ….Burnley now this , what a lovely day !!

  • Patrick McMurray

    Labour MUST make more of the Tory inheritance tax policy. It shows that the Tories interests are not those of ordinary people.

  • Charlie Reynolds

    If only Gordon could meet more people – Labour would probably get no votes.

    who put me with that woman. And he talks about toffs and Eton and being out of touch. Incredibly she was a life long Labour supporter.

    And now he blames the media. This is pure simple classic Gordon Brown and why he must be got rid of – he has been a disatser for this country. He showed that woman the same contempt he showed the people who lost out on the 10% tax. You were (allegedly) correct when you said (allegedly) that he has ‘psychological flaws’.

    This lady was sensible enough to realise that the debt and deficit are the key things needing sorting out. Labour have made it racist to talk about dealing sensibly with immigration and they are reaping the whirlwind with the BNP scum.

    Can Gordon Brown be trusted to make the right decisions on cutting public spending. He doesn’t have the ability to take difficult decisions.

    GordON / GordOFF – prefer the latter.

  • Andrew Holden

    In tomorrow night’s debate, Gordon Brown must stress that Cameron is trying to be all things to all men.

    Does DC reaaly expect people to believe him when he says he can cut the deficit, AND deliver tax cuts, AND maintain public spending on essential services ?

    Something’s got to give.
    Either we’re going to see tax increases e.g. VAT, or we’re going to see spending cuts leading to huge job losses.

    To coin a phrase, DC is treating the British public like fools.

  • s chapman

    Bigot gate….how will you riggle out of that one !

  • barry

    I have just read that the Elvis impersonator was “hailed by Alastair Campbell as the “megastar” who would boost Gordon Brown’s flagging election campaign”. Desperation or what? I somehow suspect a certain female Labour supporter and “bigot” may have more impact on his campaign, such as it is…..

  • fl_glasgow

    Could you tell me why Mrs Alec Salmond is SO invisible that nobody,knows who she is? (Apparently not even her local Aberdeenshire councillor!)Does she stay in Edinburgh, and why does wee Eck go everywhere only on his own?

  • Martin Goddard

    Yet again a poliitician; Gordon Brown is in trouble for being like everyone else….God help us, he was only being honest and himself. Are not our politicians entitled to a private point of view?

  • JC

    I feel so sorry for the woman called a bigot by Brown – poor woman. She looked so upset and in fact distraught!! Brown’s true colours shone through today and I hope everyone sees this.

    She was only asking a few simple questions, her right in our “democratic” society… pah! Her views are even shared by a Labour candidate for Glasgow East.

    I hope this has shattered the campaign for Brown and Labour, as I am disgusted!!!

  • Tony

    Elections and speeches go together like fluff and spin. That’s what I hear from people I meet. Process and Issues. Mmh.Less of the former, more of the latter.Isn’t that what you want? How many of us, when listening to the debates so far, have managed to tease these two key elements apart.

    Issues has a thinly sliced soft cheese feel to it, whilst Process reminds me of the packaging that this kind of cheese is wrapped in. Issue and Process are like bullet points of bullet points,that finally signify little. When unwrapped the content is thin and weak.

    Listening to the debates so far, that’s listening on radio, a deliberate choice for me, the clearest, steadiest voice is Gordon Browns.Electoral reform apart, discounting any visual performance aspect of these debates,GB’s rebuttals were solid with a quiet strength.

    Its this that stands out for me. Firmer content wrapped in a more straightforward package.So, G.B. for G.B.For now.

  • peter

    Just seen GB chatting about some woman called Gillian from
    Rochdale……er nice one Gord. Adios big fella

  • wgrace

    Gordo say, “If I have said anything to upset her.” IF? Why IF you called her a bigot.

  • sue colley

    Alastair, this is my first ever ‘blog’ and quite possibly my last but I feel compelled to do something as I am in no doubt that Gordon must be feeling desperate. And no I do not know Gordon, I met him once, very briefly, at a ‘funeral’ at which I was delivering a eulogy. It was the funeral of Evelyn Jones, wife of Jack Jones. Two of the most honourable and brave people I have known, and it is because of them I am posting this blog. I first met them both in 1984, it was Evelyne who recruited me to the Labour Party. From that point, I spent many happy evenings in their company and enjoyed a first hand account of both their lives and their own take on ‘events’. More than anything they wanted the re-election of a Labour Government and the man for them was Gordon Brown. I think I am correct in believing that Gordon had a great affection for them – and if it helps in anyway to remind him of their uncompromising belief in him, particularly as we embark on this vital last week of the campaign – please do so.