Sunday, May 25, 2008

Let's not get carried away...

Okay the Crewe & Nantwich by-election result brought many a cheer across the Conservative Party, is the first gain from Labour since 1982 or 1978 depending on what you count, etc... etc...

But let's also have some perspective. There have been sensational over-hyped by-election gains for opposition parties before. Often they haven't led to a dramatic change in the political landscape. Did the country go heavily Liberal after Orpington?

And the electorate is very volatile these days. Only a year ago people were talking about Gordon Brown leading Labour to a fourth election victory and heavily increasing the majority, whilst quite a few people in the Conservative Party and the media started talking doom and disaster. The opinion polls have practically yo-yoed for much of the past year. Who's to say that things won't swing back again and that in a few months time the media will be asking if the Conservatives can ever form a government again?

Predicting the next election result or proclaiming the Conservatives as the next government is far, far too premature. There are a lot of voters in the country who have become increasingly willing to listen to what the Conservatives have to say and even dabble with voting for us in council and by-elections. That is not the same thing as a mass scale winning them over. No vote can be taken for granted and many could well vote for Labour at the next election. A lot still needs to be done to win hearts and minds.

Does Labour need to replace Gordon Brown with an all-new & dynamic leader? It's a silly question because there's no obvious candidate. The fact that people are talking about the likes of James Purnell, who hardly anyone had heard of, shows how limited the pool of alternatives is. It's not good for a country's stability to constantly have the premiership in doubt.

If there is one clear fact to emerge from the by-election it's that the Liberal Democrats were not on their best form. They've come from third place to take seats off Labour before but this time they fell back. Is it just a failing in their by-election machine or is Nick Clegg proving the hard way that he's not the Great Young Hope that the party deposed Ming for?

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