IF you have not seen the latest election broadcast put out by the Labour Party, my advice is to give it a miss for the sake of your mental health.
It is far and away the most poorly-scripted, badly-acted and utterly witless piece of political propaganda it has been my misfortune to watch.
The plot, if you can call it that, features the “Un-credible Shrinking Man”, also known as Nick Clegg, getting smaller in size as he breaks his election promises under pressure from a bunch of bullying Tory ministers who speak in the kind of plummy accents not heard in England since the 1930s.
One says he has never heard of the NHS and another complains that one of his millionaire constituents is “down to his last two yachts”.
It is so bad that many staunch Labour supporters have been squirming in embarrassment since its release. It is no coincidence that this week also saw the release of new opinion polls showing a dramatic collapse in Labour Party support. The ICM poll for the Guardian saw Labour slipping six points in a month to 31 per cent, with the Conservatives leapfrogging into the lead on 33 per cent.
What the latest party broadcast shows is that Labour is no longer interested in trying to persuade the undecided, or even laying out any coherent alternatives to government policy.
Instead the party has resorted to crude class warfare in the hope of shoring up enough support among its traditional backers to drag it over the winning line come next May.
The big question the electorate will ask Labour in 2015 is this: “The last time you were in control you drove the economy into a ditch. Why should we trust you this time around?”
Many Labour supporters argue it isn’t fair to blame Gordon Brown’s government for the global collapse, but it doesn’t matter. The economy is the key issue that voters want to see addressed.
But Labour’s leaders have decided they don’t want to answer that question, or explain why they have opposed every single measure the coalition Government has introduced to get the economy moving again.
Labour also has little meaningful to say on a whole range of issues from welfare, education, the NHS, immigration and Europe. Instead, posh North Londoner Ed Miliband and former public schoolboy Ed Balls do little but shriek “Tory Toff, Tory Toff” endlessly.
The depressing thing is this strategy just might work. Because of the skewed nature of constituency sizes, Labour only needs about 35 per cent of the vote to win a majority. The Conservatives need about 40 per cent and they are a long way off that despite this week’s gains.
So the most likely result of the 2015 general election is either an outright Labour victory or another hung parliament with the Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power again.
God help us all!
Frock no shock
WHEN I was 18 and first allowed to drink alcohol legally, an older, entirely disreputable, friend introduced me to a pub in Liverpool called Sadie’s Bar.
It was a fascinating place, packed to the gunwales with revolutionaries, musicians, sailors, prostitutes and people who described themselves as poets and artists, although I don’t recall them ever producing any poetry or art.
I absolutely loved it.
Presiding over this menagerie was the magnificent figure of Sadie, the landlord, or possibly the landlady – I was never sure which.
He/she wore extravagant frocks, dangly earrings, heavy make-up, including impossibly long eyelashes, and a two-foot tall wig of backcombed hair.
Sadie also sported a five o’clock shadow that occasionally sprouted into a full beard. If there was trouble in the pub – a not infrequent occurrence – she would hitch up her skirts and drag the offender into the street by the scruff of the neck.
I thought of Sadie while watching the Eurovision Song Contest, won by a female impersonator called Conchita, complete with evening gown and beard.
This was presented as something exciting and the dawn of a new era of tolerance.
Let’s hope so, but I couldn’t help thinking that it’s a bloke with a beard wearing a frock, and as Sadie would no doubt say: “Darlings, we’ve been there, done that.”