The times they are a-crazy. First, left-wing bloggers begin to push the line that the Cameroon’s are planning a coup (e.g. Sunder Katwala, Though Cowards Flinch); then Manish Sood, the Labour candidate for Norfolk north-west calls his own leader (and Next Left can’t be alone in wonder if this plonker of long standing is a plant) the worst Prime Minister ever; and, finally, half of the Lib Dem executive of Plymouth defect to Labour. This election, despite Tory triumphalism in the Telegraph today, remains so volatile that more stuff like this is bound to be trumpeted in the coming 48 hours. What is depressing is that the media is left to report what it thinks is the most exciting – rather than most substantive – story. And, for some reason, that is currently Manish Sood. (Strangely, it must be said, not Philippa Stroud.)
Will any of this break through, however? Douglas Alexander has been calling this a ‘word-of-mouth election’, trying to make a virtue of Labour’s cash-strapped efforts, but this sounded more convincing prior to the television debates when party political macro-messaging came into its own. Yesterday’s final Conservative Party Election Broadcast was an exemplar of the form, and in terms of messaging clearly far more effective than the slightly plaintive Lib Dem one. We await the final Labour PEB, although this video is probably overly negative to form a basis. The party badly needs, if only to shore up its vote, something of the positive passion that Gordon Brown had in this stonking speech from yesterday. If only we’d had more of this.
Tittle-tattle can still swing seats, however, and in a properly three-party race all the psephology goes out of the window – hence, one assumes the talk of tactical voting from embattled Labour ministers. As Donald Macintyre writes, the real story of 2010 has been the excellent hand played by Nick Clegg, rather than any great Tory victory; his efforts could very well dictate the result come Thursday night (certainly another slightly dodgy Crosby-Textor poll suggests the Tories have no hope of winning any seats from the Liberal Democrats). The final Labour push, then, will be like this from Brown: the Tories are no progressives, and will refuse Liberal Democrat support. Progressives should fear them, and should vote Labour where it will keep the Tories out. It isn’t as inspiring as yesterday’s speech, but it is nevertheless true.
Is it, though, a macro-message that can cut through the shrill noise of the final days of a chaotic campaign?