The real news was, as so often, somewhere behind the headline story: Hazel Blears, aka The Chipmunk, had her car trashed while out campaigning in her Salford constituency. Had she fallen flat on her face, or slipped on a fish’n’chip wrapper, there could have been some amusement value, but a straightforward act of malicious damage by the local creeps is not excusable.
However, after showing the damaged car, the Beeb’s news report then went on to do the obligatory vox pop around the area. At first, there was a procession of the usual “don’t like her” clips, but the most telling was a group of lads who all asked more or less the same question: what, they wanted to know, did politicians mean to them, and what did they ever do for them?
Well, when you don’t have a job, and have never had one – not an unusual condition in that part of the world – that’s not such a daft question. What will Blears, or any of her colleagues, or any other party in the North West, do about them? And the sad conclusion is that they won’t do much, not if the past thirty years is anything to go by.
Because, during that period, parties have been so obsessed with capturing the swing vote that they have lost focus on the margins. The Tories let unemployment reach well over three million, then took far too long getting it down in any kind of significant numbers. Labour reduced the figures at first, but they have now started back over two million. Both parties have been content to grab power, without giving any obvious attention to the least well off. Small wonder that the deeply unpleasant BNP has made gains in those areas.
Will it change? Not under Labour – unless someone in the party wakes up soon – and certainly not under the Tories. Why is anyone surprised at voter disaffection?