The day the Tories lost it
Today is the 12th anniversary of Black Wednesday – September 16 1992 – the day when the pound was forced out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism after billions had been spent trying to prop it up. The day made currency traders like George Soros rich, it boosted Euro-scepticism, and it’s been described as “the defining failure of John Major’s government”.
It was also the day that the public stopped trusting the Tories and they still havn’t recovered even after all this time.
The big question in British politics is whether Labour have suffered their own version of Black Wednesday because of Tony Blair going to war with Iraq without UN sanction, the “45 minutes warning”, the lack of WMDs, David Kelly, the Hutton and Butler inquiries and the continued daily death toll there?
Today’s news that the UN Secretary-General has said the war was” illegal” and the rave reviews for David Hare’s Iraqi war play, Stuff Happens, at the National Theatre are further signs that the PM’s desire to “draw a line” under what has gone on might not prove possible. But is it as bad as “Black Wednesday” was for John Major’s government?
Like the Tories of the mid-90s the trust ratings in the Prime Minister have plummetted.
Like the Tories of the mid-90s Labour’s suffered a sharp down-turn in the polls
Like the Tories of the mid-90s defending seats in by-elections has become a nightmare
Like the Tories of the mid-90s hundreds of party councillors have lost their seats
Like the Tories of the mid-90s party membership has nose-dived
But unlike the Tories of the mid 90s the Labour decline has been obscured by the poor performance of the opposition and brilliantly effective PR by Downing Street. So the Tories dropping 2% in a by-elections is presented as a bigger crisis for them than Labour going down 28%. But PR won’t help if the people don’t turn-out for Labour on election day.
All this makes for a very interesting General Election which is hard to call.
The public are still out of love with the Tories – but they are out of love with Labour as well.
How all this will shake out we do not know. But we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – punters putting money on the current spread price that enivsages a Labour majority of 75 are being very bold and, maybe, very foolish. There’s just too much uncertainty.
HARTLEPOOL UPDATE. Both the William Hill and PaddyPower markets are not available. Betfair is still there with 1/3 available on Labour.