Monday 22nd December
At this time of year most political argument dries up, everyone is too busy with preparations for Christmas to even listen, let alone be convinced by Politics. But I am sure this is the very time the plans for the next feverish five months are being polished. As long as I can remember almost every election has been billed as the most important ever. How many times has Labour told us it had to be elected to save the NHS, how many times have the Tories insisted Labour would wreck the economy if you voted for them and how many times have the Lib-Dems claimed that they would do things differently?
At the last election it was pointed out that winning the 2010 election would be a poisoned chalice, that whoever won it would get kicked out next time – and they may have been right. The pattern over recent years had been for one party to rule for three or even four Parliaments before the opposition got its act together. But things may be different this time. There was no sea-change at the last election, no landslide, in fact – no real winners. And so it may be this time too. The country seems split almost three ways, a third still backing the Tories, a third hoping that Labour will be the answer and another third saying neither of you (or the LibDems either) have the answers. We are in quite unknown territory, the SNP are threatening to wipe out Labour in Scotland and Ukip to do the same to (mostly) the Tories in the South and East. Even the Greens are higher in Opinion polling than ever before. Of course, whether this discontent will manifest itself in real change at the next election is the big question. In many ways it could be a good thing, the two large parties really do need to change. There needs to be a fresh look at our whole concept of democracy and how to involve and include people. At least two party leaders will probably resign after the next election too, so that may bring in some new people and new ideas. For now, all is quiet – but come early January and the real arguments will begin.