Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Don't Panic

The always interesting, well informed and apposite column of Danny Finkelstein is as ever worth reading in today's Times. He argues that a March election is extremely unlikely, not just because these rumours usually amount to nothing and that they seem to have come mostly from the Tories. More than that though he points out what we are wont to forget, for all of the talk of Labour's recovery in the polls, is that they have recovered to the derisory rating of 30%. Brown is still regarded as hopeless, out of touch and a liability by much of the electorate and indeed by Peter Mandelson if reports are to be believed. For all of Brown's trickery and name calling he remains woefully short of support just months from an election.

Danny is of course quite right to remind us of this. Those of us desperate to see the back of this appalling government tend to get a little nervous when the polls narrow a little. But they have only narrowed a little. Some are still giving the Tories a 17 point lead. And even if the latest poll showing a 9 point lead is accurate, 9 points is actually a very decent lead in our system. In any other system it would be pointing to a big victory for the Tories. It's just that they have such a mountain to climb and a system that is very much against them.

Much as I have my doubts about David Cameron and some of his policies, much as I wish he would be bolder and more aggressive, I still desperately want him to win whenever we have an election. I want this because I fear for the future of the country if Brown were to remain in charge. Happily, given the state of the polls, this is most unlikely to happen. What may happen however is a hung parliament. But that's another story.

For now we are on course to be rid of Brown one way or the other. Brown knows this, or at least he should. This is why he is most unlikely to go to the real polls when he is 'only' ten points behind in the opinion polls. It's a lot more complicated than that as private polling will be telling him. He will hang on until May or June. I'm willing to lay a substantial bet right now that he will dither and hold on for something to turn up right the way to June. He's incapable of deciding and so he will have the decision made for him.

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