Happy 9th Birthday – 1997 General Election Victory

Happy 9th Birthday – 1997 General Election Victory

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    Punters make Labour favourite for next time as well

Nine years today ago these were the images that were being beamed to the world after Labour’s extraordinary General Election landslide. Even though the tone of headlines might be a bit different on the morning of May 2nd 2006 it is a good moment to pose the question – could Labour do it again?

    And if the party did win the next election, of course, that could mean a further nine years of Labour government.

For in spite of all the trials and tribulations and the prospect of a real drubbing in the local elections on Thursday the betting markets, at least, think that Labour will still come out as top party next time.

The stark electoral fact is that although recent surveys have put the Tories back in front again the party needs a vote margin substantially bigger than the latest maximum of 3% even to come out as top party in terms of seats.

For we have yet to reach the stage where the public mood switches to “it’s time for change”. I think the last week might have brought us a little bit closer as Labour’s reputation as a “good manager” starts to tumble but there’s no overwhelming desire for the Tories.

The conventional wisdom is that it was the forced departure of the UK pound from the ERM in September 1992 that was the breaking point for the Tory government. Looking back that might have been the case but it took another five months before Labour began securing significant poll leads. In fact the Tories were ahead with ICM in January 1993.

Maybe the cumulative effect of the events of Spring 2006 could start to be seen in the summer. Possibly? Possibly not?

What Cameron and Campbell have got to do is to make their parties as attractive propositions as possible so they are in a good position to move forward if and when the public mood changes. The old adage that governments lose elections rather than oppositions win them very much applies.

In terms of general election betting I’m waiting until I see a discernible trend.

Mike Smithson

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