Editor's Letter: We’ve reached the witching hour in British politics

Noone's got a clue what will happen on Wednesday

 

Share

 

Morning all. On Wednesday, we’ll be a year away from the most exciting election in modern British history. No matter how emphatic the predictions made by pundits in Westminster, the truth is they haven’t got a bloody clue.

For David Cameron, the next few years offer an assault course with four huge tests. First up are this month’s European and council elections, in which a Ukip surge is likely to dominate the headlines. Then there is the small matter of the Scottish referendum on 18 September. The Unionists strike me as hopelessly lethargic, at a time when the polls have narrowed, and those campaigning for independence are better organised and more motivated. Plenty of Tories are adamant that Cameron will have to resign if the Union breaks up under his watch.

Get through all of that, and he faces a brutal general election in which, to secure a majority, he needs a million more votes than he received in 2010 – while struggling in marginals and dealing with Ukip. If he somehow manages to pull off a majority, he faces a European referendum which is lose-lose. Either Britain leaves the EU, which is against his wishes and looks like a historic failure of leadership. Or Britain stays in the EU, and his recalcitrant party goes to war over Europe (again).

Given that he’s overseeing austerity and is, in effect, part of three coalitions – with Labour-voting Scotland, the Liberal Democrats, and the Ukip tendency in his own ranks – it’s enough to make you wince. Nobody said being PM is easy. But Cameron’s got a particularly bad hand to play.

For Labour, the big problem is economic credibility. Ed Miliband is a smart social democrat who wants to move British politics to the left. Are we, as a nation, up for that? The evidence is limited. And despite what it says in public, Labour knows that it would be easier to win if the economy was stalling. Its argument, that the recovery is skewed and we still have a cost-of-living crisis, resonates with some voters, but perhaps not enough.

For Liberal Democrats, the next year is scary. A very senior party member told me this week that he doesn’t think the foot soldiers would go for another coalition with the Tories. This surprised me. It implies we could be heading for either a Tory minority government, or a Lib-Lab coalition. Britain does not love coalitions, as Disraeli said; but on the evidence of the past few years it doesn’t seem to hate them either, which is just as well.

But who knows? We’ve reached the witching hour in the electoral cycle, and this paper’s unique approach to politics – passionate without being partisan, fiercely sceptical, and optimistic for Britain – has never been more timely. Have a great weekend.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The economics of the stock market is simple really: buy and hold

Ben Chu
Jeb Bush's campaign will emphasise both his conservative record as a former governor of Florida and his commitment to building a more inclusive Republican Party  

American democracy is up for sale, and it’s a warning to us all

Shirley Williams
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border