Labour disarray


The general disarray of the Labour Party continues to amuse those of us on the fringes of politics. Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke MP publicly stated that he believed more than half the Cabinet thought Gordon Brown should go, and that any other party would have eased him out already. Clarke is probably right: Labour's complicated and protracted leadership election procedure is not one that any MP would willingly drag the party through. It's a recipe for looking torn with divisions over a long period. And there's an election coming up, after all.

The other bad news is polling evidence from Populus shows that Labour faces a landslide in London, its 7 point lead having deteriorated into a 12 point deficit. If that 9.5% swing worked uniformly across the capital, Brown's team would lose 17 of their 44 seats. High profile MPs like Jon Cruddas, with a 7,605 majority, would be gone. And the Conservatives are even ahead in parts of the North of England – that's how far Labour's land has slipped.

And it's quite possible that the landslide will get even bigger. Polling has now become so reliable that everyone has a pretty good idea of who's going to win an election long before it's even called. And that feeds on itself. It's like the 'must have' Christmas toy – kids with cred want a Bizzi-Blaster, so the Bizzi-Blaster gets reported as this year's 'must have', whereupon more kids think it must be really cool and want one too. Shops sell out of Bizzi-Blasters, which just adds to the parents' panic that they need to move fast. Of this are bubbles made (Paul Ormerod is good on this).

Something of the same now happens in elections. In 1997 everyone knew Labour was going to win because they seemed united, polished, slick, and normal – unlike the Tories in every sense. And who wants to vote for the losing side? Tory voters deserted to Labour, or stayed at home. It's beginning to look the same in reverse for 2010. Who will want to vote for the slow-motion train crash that is Gordon Brown's government? Populus asked me what I thought the outcome of the next election would be (they flatteringly have me down as an 'opinion former', so how can I resist?) I thought, and said 'Tory Landslide'. Perhaps, in this world of instant polls and 24hr news, landslides are how elections are going to work from now on.