If Mr Major wanted to ignore the doomsaying election pundits and pollsters and turn instead to the even more absurdly fanciful forecasts of astrologers, he will find little solace. Tony Blair, the stubborn Taurean bull, is racing ahead of John Major's Airean ram. According to Nicholas Campion, president of the Astrological Association of Great Britain, the Prime Minister's birthday today presages "a wonderful year for meeting new people and saying `goodbye' to old friends".
It's not all bad news, though. "Since the moon will be in Sagittarius, people born on Saturday need their personal freedom. If John Major loses, it will be a blessing for him because he will be free to develop this other side of his character."
Meanwhile, the stars say Mr Blair is destined for victory. His 44th birthday falls on 6th May, and coincides with a New Moon. "It's absolutely wonderful for a fresh start," enthused Mr Campion. "A new moon is the sign of a new cycle and if it takes place on your birthday, which only happens about once every 30 years, it symbolises a year of fresh starts."
While Mr Major's public persona does not immediately fit with the normal Airean characteristics - assertive, egotistical, energetic and passionate - Mr Campion believes that that is because the moon was in Capricorn at his birth. The Airean side of Mr Major is more apparent in his occasional willingness to take risks, such as his dramatic confrontation with John Redwood over the leadership.
Mr Blair's chart provides "a perfect cosmic signature" to the opposition leader, according to Mr Campion. "The sun in Taurus is always called conservative with a small `c'. He was also born with the moon in Aquarius, a revolutionary sign. Put the two together and you have the conservative revolutionary or the revolutionary conservative."
Mr Blair was born early in the morning. "Mars was rising in Gemini," said Mr Campion. "That is basically absolutely ruthless. One of the objects associated with Mars is knives. Here's a man who can turn the knife."
Russell Grant, the tabloid astrologer, believes John Major will lose because he did not call an April poll. As an Aries, he should have gone for an April 10 election. "Everything the PM does is hampered by a partial eclipse of the moon in March," he says. "This means he will experience a life-changing event. Perhaps a fundamental change in his professional life.
"Two years ago I said early 1997 would be a very important time for the Labour leader, and aspects to his chart indicated he would be house-moving," he said yesterday.