If David Cameron is as good as his poll rating it looks to me as though he’s set not just to sneak in front of the other parties, but to romp home in next year’s election. But unlike 1997, this will be a largely joyless first term to go along with a fairly joyless recovery (it’s estimated that up to 80% of Civil Servants vote for parties other than the Conservatives, not to mention the problems some senior appointees who may not go without a Dannett like fight). For all the talk of the electoral hole the Tories are sitting in this piece in the Observer on Sunday makes clear the real benefit that Michael Howard delivered his successor in 2005: “100 “supermarginal” seats where its MPs are holding on with majorities of less than 2,000″. A 100 seat majority would be pretty convincing. And from Conference until May, with the opinion war won, the Tories are now concentrating on building a mandate to do some pretty tough things (“we are going to be the most unpopular government for years” – according to the latest briefing line). So long as Gordon Brown remains the politically undead pilot of the Labour party (though Tory silence on his handling of last October’s acute global crisis in market capitalism is eloquent testimony as to how they’ve managed to shift the political debate away from an obvious weakness – inexperience – to their obvious strength – not being the Government), it is hard to see how Labour pull out of this particular political nose dive.
It’s doubtful that under these circumstances UKIP will be in any position to save them, regardless of what any Cabinet minister has to say on the matter… The current political dynamic is blowing full in Labour’s face. We are getting towards the end of a four year investment process (Ashcroft marginal millions and 100 Cameron Direct events, many of them with the limited aim of building strength in winnable areas)… If the Tories cannot win big out of this, then Labour will have pulled something very big (and at this stage, very implausible).
Labour’s best hope? According to John Harris: “a rising sense of frustration and disappointment about what any supposed triumph for the Tories will lack.” Hmmm… Just don’t bet the farm on it John…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty