Saturday, 3 May 2008

The dangers of reading off

There is a need to be cautious about reading off from this week's election results to the conclusion that Dave Cameron is good as installed in Downing Street. The results are clearly bad for New Labour, but choosing a government is somewhat different from voting in a mid-term set of local elections. As Peter Kellner of YouGov has pointed out, there is a lot of negativity towards Labour, but still limitations in positive feelings about the Conservatives.

The danger for Labour is that they will start to fall out with each other. There is no serious support for replacing Gordon Brown and no clear alternative available. He could, however, allow more prominence to other members of his team. The economy may yet recover between now and a poll which could be delayed until 2010.

Of course, there is a wider challenge with globalisation. A report from Statistics Canada this week has shown that the long-term trend here has for the rich to get richer, the poor to get poorer and those on median incomes to 'flat line' at best. That is not, I would suggest, a distinctively Canadian phenomenon.

The risk for the Conservatives is that they could think the election is already won. However, Dave Cameron is too politically smart to think that. As they look more like an alternative government, it may also be that some more awkward questions will be asked about their policies.

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