The raison d’etre of the Tories is to ensure the state runs smoothly in the interest of the 1% of the population who own 70% of the wealth. Blair made sure New Labour had the same objective, the only purpose of the party structures now being as career ladders for the likes of Blair to join the 1%.
The Tories have learnt the lesson of Thatcher, that if you keep 42% of the English happy and feeling economically secure, and advantaged over the rest, then you can stay in power through the first past the post system. This needs an inflated housing market, a few tax cuts, and a rhetoric identifying and excluding the outsiders, be they immigrants, benefit claimants or other groups. Osborne has this political truth down to a fine art, as his budget showed. If you are a middle class family able to spend 10,000 a year on childcare, you can now in effect get 2,000 a year from the government. It is complex to administer, but most of the families who benefit much will be the kind who have accountants. Similarly the pensions plan liberalisation will not mean a great deal to the poorest in society, although not wrong in itself. Meanwhile endless benefit cuts are the lot of the needy.
New Labour are left spluttering on the sidelines because the differences in what it would do are so marginal as to be pointless. What the country needs is massive state intervention to extract funds from the financial services industry and from those with obscenely accrued capital, and put them in to infrastructure in transport, energy efficiency, renewables, housing and high tech manufacturing, areas in which economic benefits are broadly spread in society including through employment. There are legitimate areas of debate about how you do that – I favour tax incentivisation, or rather heavy tax disincentivisation of non-productive use of capital, rather than direct state agency, although you would need a mix.
Anyway, there is no radical economic choice of any kind on offer to the electorate, and the Tory/Labour divide is one of tribal adherence rather than real policy difference. But for what it is worth, with New Labour only leading in the polls by 4% just a year before the election, all precedent suggests that the Tories will easily recover that within the final year and there will be at least six more years of Tory government.
I do hope that Scots are quite clear-eyed about that before September. The choice on the ballot is simple: Scottish independence, or Tory rule from South East England for the forseeable future. The rest is smoke and mirrors.