Could boredom still upset the Brown apple-cart?

Could boredom still upset the Brown apple-cart?


    Are there similarities between Brown’s “inevitable” success and Hillary’s?

Our chart this morning shows the changing betting price on Brown for the Labour leadership over the past month and illustrates how market sentiment has moved against the “near certainty” of the 0.19/1 best price that was available before the Guardian’s ICM February poll.

The mood began moving back to the Chancellor but then in the past three days we have seen the price ease again.

    Is it now time to pick up the apparently certain returns that the current 0.29/1 price or does this reflect the probability that it might not be as easy for Gordon as people have imagined?

I find that this is getting harder to call and was very struck during the week by this recent article by George Will on the apparent “inevitability” of Hillary winning the Democratic nomination.

This is what Will wrote:- She is next in line. That fact — combined with the Clintons’ (how often the plural is pertinent) money machine, combined with the Clintons’ earned reputation for ferocity — is supposed to impart to her an aura of inevitability.

But such an aura annoys voters by telling them that they really have no choice. And that can provoke them to play the game that G.K. Chesterton called “Cheat the Prophet”: The players listen politely to explanations of what is inevitable, then they make something else happen, which defeats boredom.

Boredom, the sociologist Robert Nisbet wrote, is among the universal and insistent forces driving human behavior. Mankind’s nervous system evolved during millions of dangerous years (saber-toothed tigers, etc.). Now, however, mankind has suddenly, in a few millennia, encountered the monotony of orderly life, which bothers human brains formed by and for hazardous circumstances.

Among the cures of boredom that Nisbet listed are war, murder, revolution, suicide, alcohol, narcotics and pornography. He might have added presidential politics. Memo to the Clinton campaign: Inevitability is boring.

For Hillary read Gordon and you might just have something that could cause an upset. For Will is surely right that many, particularly in the media, loathe that which is presented to them as “inevitable” and might just react against.

Mike Smithson

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