The mood passes


Has Gordon Brown dithered himself out of office again? Last week there was a mood: SuperBrown had saved British finance, and shown the world how to do it. The public were beginning to think that he was the right person to have in charge in a crisis. And we're in a crisis. So a few people in Westminster were talking up the chance of an early election - mandate for a new world order sort of stuff.

This week the mood has gone. True, stock markets are recovering, and it's been a long time since we had a clear week without some government having to bail out some bank. But winter's coming, and a snap election at the end of November doesn't look so thrilling.

Unfortunately for Gordo, it won't get much better. The stock markets might be showing their relief that the whole world economy hasn't just collapsed into mush. But there's more bad news to come. House prices continue to fall, mortgages continue to be expensive (despite the government's guarantees on interbank lending). And with falling house prices comes falling consumer spending. People just don't feel as wealthy as they did six months ago and a year ago. Retailers are bracing themselves for a tough time, and unemployment is rising quickly. We're in for a winter of closures and generally bad news.

And of course, it's the economy, stupid. People think that Brown has had a good crisis, but they are now even less inclined to vote for him. And by the time of the next election window in May, the recession will have bitten and people will feel even poorer. October 2009, maybe? Well, things still won't be great. No, Brown will just hope that the green shoots of economic recovery will be popping through by May 2010. But by then he'll be down to the wire, and people don't like governments that hang on to the last possible moment.