I know it seems quite odd to discuss an Icelandic volcano affecting the election, but the whole Eyjafjallajoekull situation is a simply bizarre anyway. The lack of planes in the sky is personally a bit strange, however, given the whole election as it is unfolding, it is just one of a number of anomalies that is making this election truly memorable.
But, like the wedding that I went to on the weekend that unfortunately saw the Spanish mother of the Groom as well as two groomsmen unable to attend, this volcano could have a significant effect of Gordon Brown’s campaign.
Currently, there are approximately 200,000 Britons stranded in this crisis. That is a lot of voters. The last thing Brown needs right now is headlines in The Sun and the Daily Mail saying Labour ignores British cries for help with interviews with stranded passengers stuck in Madrid saying that the Government and the Embassies are doing nothing to help them.
This is an issue that the Government has no control and I fully support their decision to continue shutting airports until the Met office has declared it safe, despite British airlines making successful test flights across the UK. If one passenger filled plane were to experience troubles or god forbid, worse, than that would create all numbers of situations that don’t need to be flirted with.
However, the Government does need to have an action plan in place and Lord Mandelson, David Miliband, Tessa Jowell, Lord Adonis and Lord West announced detailed plans outside Number 10 yesterday.
What interested me particularly though was where was Gordon Brown for this photo shoot? Rarely during an election campaign like this would a PM have the opportunity to look so Prime Ministerial, but he wasn’t there. The only reasons I can think of are a) due to laws around General Elections, the PM is restricted from making statements about these sort of issues, however I think that is unlikely; b) the Government thinks this might go on for some days longer, so they don’t want the PM to be visually associated with bad news or worse make him look like he has no control of the issue or dithering; c) Labour doesn’t want to risk Opposition making claims that Labour is politicising a crisis involving 200,000 Brits for election purposes. Option C I think is the most realistic, however there could be some of option b involved in the decision-making process also.
Whatever the reason, this is a problem no one needs, especially he passengers and I think it is extremely commendable that no party has politicized this for the purposes of obtaining more votes. However, with the polls getting closer and all Parties reviewing their strategy, don’t say it won’t happen.
But spare a thought for poor Paul Wesson an independent running in David Cameron’s seat in Witney. Obviously, he has an enormous mountain to climb to beat Cameron in his own seat, but currently he is stranded in the Sudan. Not likely to get many votes there. Can you claim back your electoral deposit through travel insurance?