For David Cameron 2015 general election is on a knife-edge
David Cameron is the most impressive of all of the party leaders and the PM’s supporters boast that his popularity ratings are comfortably ahead of his party’s. But Jim Callaghan was much more popular than Margaret Thatcher when she defeated him in the 1979 general election. That's food for thought
I can’t recall a time when the outcome of a general election has been harder to predict, but I’m going to throw caution to the winds and stick my neck out with some predictions for that, and for what promises to be an exceptionally interesting political year in the UK.
It’s clear that the public is unimpressed by the leaders of all three of the main established political parties. I call them Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Tweedledim. I’ll leave you to work out which you think is which. Of the three, Cameron is plainly the most impressive -- or should that read ‘least unimpressive’?
The Prime Minister’s supporters boast that his popularity ratings are comfortably ahead of his party’s, but one shouldn’t read too much into that. In business, there’s a saying that ‘turnover is vanity; profit is sanity’. In politics, personal popularity is vanity; election victories are sanity. Jim Callaghan was much more popular than Margaret Thatcher when she defeated him in the 1979 general election.
She realised that she didn’t need to win a popularity contest; she only needed to make her party electable. Of course Cameron -- who panders to centre-left opinion -- is more popular than the Conservative Party, but much of that popularity is with people who like him because they don’t think that he is very Conservative, and who have no intention of voting for the party he leads.
So, my first prediction is that, despite being the least impressive leader of the Labour Party since Neil Kinnock, Ed Miliband will stumble across the line as Prime Minister.
To those who point to 1992, when the looming prospect of the Welsh windbag led voters back into the Tory fold, I would point out that John Major inherited a majority of over 100 seats from Margaret Thatcher, whereas Cameron failed to win a majority at all in 2010.
In 2015, my prediction is that the Tories will win more votes than Labour, but that Labour will win more seats -- enough to form a government, with or without a deal with the remaining LibDem MPs or the SNP, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green Party etc.
My second prediction is that, after this unconvincing victory, as little will go right for Miliband as it did for Major, after he scraped home in 1992.
The Conservatives will elect a new leader. The public, understandably, tends to make the mistake of thinking that the Conservative Party will choose one of its biggest names as leader.
Political pundits, less forgivably, make the same mistake. In fact, the Tories have never selected the favourite or biggest name to lead them. There’s a good reason for this -- they’re looking for somebody not associated too closely with the defeated regime, and they want somebody young enough to lead them five or ten years ahead.
For these reasons, my third and final prediction is that Sajid Javid, who has been so impressive as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, will be the next leader of the Conservative Party.
A man of exceptional talent and personal qualities, I predict that he will go on to make an arrangement with the UK Independence Party which will lead the Tories from defeat into victory at the following general election, ushering in a long era of Conservative rule and prosperity in a Britain which he will have freed from the shackles of the European Union.
Simon Richards is Chief Executive of The Freedom Association. Follow him on Twitter @simplysimontfa
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