Elections are about two things. They're a verdict on the performance of the government of the day. In Britain this has usually gone in favour of a government at the end of its first term. Give 'em a fair go seems to be the attitude. They're also a judgement on the future; who'll make us better off?
This government's record has been pretty disastrous particularly because it killed the growth Labour was regenerating in 2009-10 with its stimulus measures by massive cuts in investment and the wholly unnecessary austerity programme which followed killing two years of growth and holding back recovery.
Yet the Tory party is better at PR than economics and it was able to conceal this failure by blaming everything on Labour rather than the recession produced by our irresponsible banks and claiming that we'd become another Greece unless borrowing was cut. Not true but it frightened our masochistic electors who're always partial to a dose of sadism particularly for other people.
So with the two main parties level pegging in the polls we have to assume that the Tory party has got away with it's failure. No use Labour attempting to argue with that judgement however wrong headed. An argument about blame is a waste of time at this stage of the game. Leave it to the historians Fight on the future.
Here Labour's prospects are better because the recovery isn't strong, the people are nervous and few believe the Tory promises of ongoing recovery particularly now that growth has slowed suddenly and dramatically indicating that the recovery is shaky and can't be sustained.
The "long term economic plan" won't bring recovery because insofar as there is any plan at all it rests on low interest rates and will be killed when they rise and on cutting back the state which needs to expand in both spending and employment terms . It is a recovery in high asset prices rather than demand which is low because of cuts and low wages and it requires government to borrow and spend in order to stimulate jobs and growth which the Conservatives obstinately refuse to do.
Indeed the Tories promise the opposite of what's necessary to boost the economy. They're promising a massive programme of cuts, including twelve billion pounds worth of further cuts in welfare which will not only be extremely painful for the poor and disabled who've been hit hard already but be deeply damaging to demand .That needs to be boosted not cut back .Welfare is only part of the programme of cuts which will fall hard on every department outside health and education.. They then assume that after the cuts growth will come automatically because public spending has been reduced. It won't and can't. The economic boost has to come from both public and private spending.
Here is Labour's opportunity which it must seize by solid plans for growth investment and the expansion of manufacturing. To recover Britain needs a big house building programme, a massive infrastructure renewal and a boost to wages and jobs. No point in cutting borrowing until recovery boosts demand and rebuilds government's tax revenues and little point in reducing debt when interest rates are so low and government has no problems borrowing to spend to stimulate and grow. No point either in cutting the deficit when Britain needs deficit spending to boost our pathetic growth rate.
This election is about what kind of future the British people want. Will it be one of low wages, mean benefits and a shrunken state? Or one of investment growth and rebuilding a manufacturing base which can pay the nation's way in the world.? That's the choice. The key to the future isn't caution, conformity and pledges to balance the budget. That all comes later once we've got real and substantial growth and more people in work. The immediate need is hope and the better prospects offered by Labour as against the cuts and sell offs promised by the Tories. Let's Grow With Labour.
Notice how as the parties have shrunk in membership they've grown in output . More leaflets, pamphlets and appeals have poured through every letter box this time than ever before. Whole forests are being decimated to feed British dustbins though my local Green candidate assures me that her pamphlets are "funded by ordinary people and printed on 100% post consumer fibre FDC(R) recycled certified and PCF ((Process Chlorine Free) paper." Thank God for that