Hardly a day passes without either Cameron or Clegg popping across the Tamar for a quick photo-opportunity. A weekly hour of Poldark plainly isn’t enough to satisfy these boys. Yesterday it was the turn of Clegg to descend on us bringing the usual sack of gifts from the east but unaccompanied by any visibly wise men.
This time he was in St Austell trying to shore up the sagging campaign of sitting
Tory Lib Dem Stephen Gilbert. We were promised cheaper petrol (greenest government ever?) and a doubling of the rate of council tax on second homes. Of course, as Clegg also yesterday ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP he’s left with only option, which is to prop up his old mate who leads the party of second home owners. So this is another promise that we can confidently add to the essentially meaningless list then.
It’s more about ratcheting up an apparent difference between the Glib Dem and Tory wings of the coalition Government as Clegg suffers terrible amnesia when it comes to the actual record of the past five years. In Cornwall, he calls on Labour voters to vote tactically for the Lib Dems. But of course, with the usual astonishing impudence, up in Sheffield where he’s defending his seat from Labour, he’s calling on Tories to vote tactically for the Lib Dems.
Mind you, to prove that it’s not that difficult to fool most of the people most of the time, especially in Cornwall, Lord Ashcroft happened to be conducting a focus group in St Austell and Newquay this week. Apparently, ‘most’ of those present thought Stephen Gilbert was a reincarnation of David Penhaligon. One proudly referred to his actions on the pasty tax. “He sorted that out. They wanted to charge you extra for a pasty!” The only tiny problem with this great success in saving us from the demonic pasty taxers is that most bakeries ARE charging the pasty tax. The notion that it was binned must rank as one of the biggest myths in Cornish history, up there with visits from the Phoenicians and the whisht hounds of Goss Moor.
Amazingly, Ashcroft concluded on the basis of this soul-destroying evidence of the political perspicacity of St Austell voters that for ‘the Cornwall [sic] participants’ local factors were pulling them towards the Lib Dems while ‘national’ factors pulled them towards the Tories. Which explains why they’re perfectly happy to go on voting for someone whose voting record in the last Parliament was the same as the Tories 98% of the time. Let’s see.
He voted strongly for
- slashing welfare benefits
- reducing corporation tax
- raising tuition fees
- privatising the Royal Mail
and strongly against
- increasing taxes on those (hardworking) folk ‘earning’ more than £150,000 a year.
Not to mention being willing to sacrifice Cornwall’s 1,000 year old border in return for a lost referendum on the pathetic alternative vote.
Is there really no-one in St Austell supremely indifferent about which one of the Two Steves, the Liberal Tory one or the Tory Liberal one, actually wins the seat?