The two dominant characters of British politics in the 1950s and 1960s were Harold Wilson (Labour) and Harold MacMillan (Conservative) and each has contributed an aphorism the truths of which political observers forget at their peril. Wilson said that “A week is a long time in Politics” and MacMillan, when asked by a journalist for his view as what can most easily steer a government off course, answered “Events, dear boy. Events”.

So whilst some Conservatives are celebrating the dreadful outcome for Labour of the recent local elections, and the unprecedented low poll ratings of the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, they would do well to remember that there is a still a long way to go. Time is beginning to run out for Brown, but then it was for Margaret Thatcher at the nadir of her fortunes in 1981 and she restored her position by managing an “event” (the Falklands War) successfully – in the eyes of the electorate anyway. Thatcher’s General Election win in 1983 was overwhelming, and she went on to win her third four years later.

A decade after Thatcher’s renaissance her successor John Major pulled a similar trick coming from way behind in the polls to win the Election of 1992. This time it was the Wilson adage that was in play with Major turning his campaign around in the very last weeks by appealing directly to the public over the heads of the media – the famous “soapbox election”.

So whilst Gordon Brown looks to be as dead as Monty Python’s parrot at present nobody should rule out the possibility that he could rise phoenix like from the ashes of his present position – if “events” and the time factor work in his favour. A key factor in the next British Election will be the Liberal Democrats who are slightly ahead of Labour in the current polls .

The election is probably two years away but a not improbable outcome might be a national result with the Tories in the lead at say 38%, Labour recovering to say 33% with the LibDems at 21% (others 8%). This would produce a near tie in seats between Conservatives (282) and Labour (283) leaving the LibDems (55) holding the balance of power with the Nationalists and others. This is far from an impossible result and would mean that parties would have to enter into a coalition to govern – an outcome that many of us would welcome. Readers might like to play this electoral game themselves by inputting their own forecasts into the excellent model on the Electoral Calculus website.

Be Sociable, Share!