It’s a truism that we tend to change our cars, rather like our politicians, every five years, so as Britain heads for the polling booths, we thought it would be fun to consider whether some cars suited politicians and their parties better than others.
Before he became Prime Minister Tony Blair drove a dung brown Austin Montego estate –I suspect he’s since traded it in. During the 1950s Margaret Thatcher’s consort Denis (correct) apparently had a penchant for big Jaguar saloons, but by the time she packed her bags and tearfully exited 10 Downing Street –ironically in a big Jaguar saloon- he was happy to slum it in a Ford Cortina estate.
The late Alan Clark, caddish diarist and Tory MP, had a castle full of racy old classic cars, and could cheerfully talk to ex- Liberal leader Lord David Steel about cam shafts and crossply tyres, as the latter is a fan of old car rallying.
However try to identify cars that suit political parties and things become problematic. Politicians mostly converge on the centre ground, so for Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats the fall back car would be something like a Vauxhall Zafira people carrier. Not too flashy, but appealing to a wide variety of people. The Vauxhall might be seen as the ideal mode of transport for ‘hard working families’ whoever they are. Perhaps the Labour version would be a sensible diesel; the Tory Zafira might go for a bit of free market hedonism with leather seats, alloy wheels and perhaps a personalized number plate. There isn’t a hybrid Zafira, but if it was Nick Clegg might drive it.
Given the Tories’ appeal to the hunting, shooting and fishing brigade, a new-but-mud-spattered Land-Rover Defender filled with mud-spattered dogs might fit the bill for its rural fans, a Range Rover Sport for their wealthy cousins and Hampstead and Chelsea, although since this is also a party that claims to represent the self-made, a white Ford Transit van might be even better.
Labour would probably also claim the Transit, having styled itself as the party of ‘working people.’ With heartlands in the North of England could the Sunderland-built Nissan Qashqai, or Toyota Auris, made in Burnaston, Tyne and Wear, be the sort things that would suit its image?
The Liberal Democrats used to have a beards, sandals and aged Morris Minors vibe, but perhaps something like the Volvo V40 estate, not-too-flashy-but-middle-of-the-road-and-middle class, suits its image better these days.
The Scottish National Party is unlikely to welcome comparison with the Scottish made Hillman Imp, which was clever but unreliable and had a habit of failing to reach its destination. Perhaps the SNP is now more like a breakdown recovery truck, waiting to hook up to one of the other party’s cars and drag it in the direction its drivers didn’t want to go before they ran out of votes.
In Wales Plaid Cymru’s image might be akin to a 1950s Land Rover. Small, tough, capable of ploughing its own course and –deep breath- the ideal vehicle for transporting sheep.
UKIP? Hmmm, well, with his Del Bay/Arthur Daley ‘Covert’ coats, Nigel Farage does seem to have modeled himself on a 1950s car salesman. You could imagine him peering in to the engine bay of a slightly dog eared Standard Vanguard and saying; ‘once we’ve fixed this piece of classic British engineering, it will be a car you can be proud of. I say, has anyone seen my Imperial spanners?’
And the Green Party? That one’s easy. An Oyster Card….