How much of a certainty is a Cameron majority?
Columns by the Independent’s Steve Richards are not normally my first point of reference but in his piece for the paper today he makes a valid point – the pundits are being premature in regarding a Tory victory as almost a certainty.
We saw it in a number of pieces at the weekend and clearly the terrible spate of January polls after what appeared to be a Labour recovery has had an impact. As Richards puts it: “A very significant shift has taken place since the start of the year. There is now a widely held assumption that the Conservatives will win the next election, probably by a substantial majority.”
Richards lists several reasons why he’s not convinced: “..The third reason relates to the unpredictability of the crisis, which has already led to a new set of widely held assumptions about the role of markets and the state. I will be surprised if the demand is for the government to do less by the time of the next election, and it could already be doing a lot more, including owning more banks.
The fourth reason has to do with Brown’s wildly oscillating political career. My shelves creak with articles that have written him off at various points since 1994. Maybe this time everyone is right, but his resilience and admittedly erratic cunning remain underestimated factors.
Probably none of these reasons will counter the voters’ desire to punish a long-serving, tired and flawed government. But they might. The election is still a long way off, and between now and then, an epoch-changing crisis rages.”
There is another element as well which hasn’t been focussed on much recently. The electoral arithmetic sets the bar for a Conservative success at a very high level. There are lots of reasons for this which we have discussed before but Cameron’s party needs a margin in the vote across Britain of at least eight points before he can be certain of getting that call from the Palace.
Yes – all the latest polls have Tory leads above that but it doesn’t take much of a slip-back for us to be getting into hung parliament territory again.
I have no bets on the final outcome of the election. There is a long way to go.