Thursday, 25 March 2010
Sunday, 14 March 2010
The following excerpt from Wikipedia on the 1992 election makes for interesting reading. I have italicised and boldened a few select passages.
"The United Kingdom general election of 1992 was held on 9 April 1992, and was the fourth consecutive victory for the Conservative Party. This election result was one of the biggest surprises in the 20th Century, as polling leading up to the day of the election showed Labour under leader Neil Kinnock to be consistently, if narrowly, ahead.
During his term leading up to the 1992 elections he oversaw the British involvement in the Gulf War, introduced legislation to replace the unpopular Community Charge with Council Tax, and signed the Maastricht treaty. The UK had gone into recession around the time of Major's appointment, along with most of the other industrialised nations. John Major announced the date of the election on 11 March shortly after Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont had delivered the Budget. It was one of the most dramatic elections in the UK since the end of the Second World War, after the Conservative Party defeated the initial favourites, the Labour Party.
Labour had been ahead of the Tories in the opinion polls since as long ago as 1989, and Thatcher's main reason for her resignation was that she felt that the Tories would stand a better chance of winning the next election if they had a new leader. As 1992 dawned, the recession deepened and the election loomed, most opinion polls suggested that Labour were still favourites to win the election. However, on Election Day, The Sun newspaper ran a front page headline which urged "the last person to leave Britain" to "turn out the lights" if Labour won the election. This headline was widely regarded as the saviour of the Conservative government, and The Sun famously ran a front page headline the next day - It's The Sun Wot Won It - to claim that it had won the election for the Conservatives."
Today's Sunday Telegraph reports the Tory lead in the polls down to a 2-year low. This is in line with the trends reported by other pollsters. Now not all the parallels are the same - not least because the current PM does not appear to attract the same degree of public support and sympathy as John Major. But the scepticism about Mr Cameron does appear to have echoes of the Kinnock leadership.
Overall I do not think one can rule out the potential for a re-run. The prospect of lightening striking twice and an unlikely Labour win strikes me with about as much glee as the Major, "against the odds" victory in '92. But if Mr Brown does pull it off in the face of such hostility to him and his government, no-one can say that he hasn't earned it or that the Conservatives hadn't blown a huge opportunity.