Friday, September 28, 2007

The perils of political punditry

Having said on more than one occasion that Gordon Brown would not call an election this autumn, it's looking increasingly like it could be egg-on-face time for me if Gordon decides to go for it over the course of this weekend.

That said, it looks like I am in good company. As BBC political editor Nick Robinson admits on his blog today, he himself initially described talk of an early election as tosh.

I took the view I did because I do not believe that the public wants an election at this stage, and that against that backdrop Brown will struggle to increase Labour's majority beyond 66. I still hold to that, and agree wholeheartedly with Guido that 3.5 - 1 against the Tories being the largest single party represents good value at the moment.

I'll be saying a bit more about why in my weekend column which will will be posted here tomorrow after it has appeared in the Newcastle Journal and Derby Evening Telegraph.

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1 comment:

RedEye said...

Plus Autumn weather, and darker evenings, could exacerbate differential turnout. The last two October GEs (1964 and the second 1974 one) saw Labour majorities of just three (whereas much larger ones were expected, particularly one of twenty in October 74).

Personally, I think that the October 74 experience (combined with 1970) helped persuade Callaghan against an Autumn 78 General Election.

All the same, and even if the Labour majority is cut, this is probably as good as it gets for Labour - Brown's novelty will wear off the longer he goes on, the Tory panic will subside, the economy will go sour (possibly with a full-blown recession or housing market crash) and (no matter what happens with the economy) public spending will be tight (which will, in turn, lead to even more public sector strikes).

What's more, while the large opinion poll leads can be taken with a pinch of salt (particularly from YouGov, which doesn't weigh its data for the likelihood of its respondents to go out and vote), it's highly significant that last Saturday's YouGov data showed Labour ahead on the two crucial small print indicators, leadership and economic competence. These two pieces of small print pointed to a Tory victory in 92.

Things can only get worse - better to be the largest party in a hung parliament than lose outright in 09.

As for your eating humble pie, I agree with the late Alan Clark that all political pundits should, like share tipsters, be compelled to publish an annual audit of their predictions.