Does Brown’s future depend on beating expectations?
Perhaps the most critical few hours in Gordon Brown political career will take place on Sunday evening when all the Euro results are coming in. For not only will we be able to find out the big picture but we should also get data, constituency by constituency, of how the parties did within the Westminster seat boundaries.
It won’t take long before the news channels and pundits are extrapolating this into what it would mean at the general election. Unless the polls have got this totally wrong then hundreds of Labour MPs will be seen as being at risk. It is in such scenarios that panic can break out.
It’s a phoney comparison, of course, and no doubt Labour participants in the results programmes will point out that in 1999 the Tories “won” the Euro elections yet a fat lot of good it did William Hague a couple of years later.
The same will be said of last time. Labour’s 22.6% share in the Euros became a national 36.2% total eleven months later and Tony Blair was able to have a comfortable third general election victory.
The big question is what that national Labour share finally finishes up at. If it’s above the worst poll rating then the party has something to cling onto. At least it could have been worse, you can hear them saying, and my guess is that Brown will get a reprieve.
But what if Labour’s share is sub 16%? What if it’s in the low to mid teens – 14% say? That could be very dangerous.
By Sunday evening, according to some reports, the key parts of Brown’s re-shuffle should be known. It looks as though there’ll be some big name casualties and, no doubt, Brown will try to do something spectacular like with the return of Mandelson last autumn. What about Blunkett back at the Home Office – something that would be cheered by the PBers who bet at Christmas at 100/1 that he’d be Home Secretary on December 31st 2009?
You never know – and whatever it’s going to be a great political betting weekend.