Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Raising the Ante

Poker Chips
Gordon set to fold?
It's going to be a fascinating week or two for those few who actually still care about the political landscape of the country. Will he or won't he? A poll in what is starting to look like a pretty stagnant Autumn, or wait till the thin sun of spring?

Here's a post that I will check my news feed before clicking 'Publish' but I am going to nail my colours to the mast and say no 2007 General Election. I know this will probably explode in my face in spectacular fashion in short order and that most others with better knowledge than I disagree, but I just can't see it happening. Iain Dale and others have pretty strong evidence from their ever fruitful grapevines to the contrary. For all of this I'm going to join with the minority, such as Guido and A Very British Dude in his latest 18DS outing. Like Guido, for all the frenetic activity from the Labour party, I can't help but sense the faintest and most inexplicable smell of a bluff.

In addition to this, the innate caution of Brown, and certain practical objections I've touched on earlier, last night I felt I spotted another potential fly in the ointment for Gordon.

Out of boredom I ended up reading a copy of the Sun down at the local. I normally don't go near the red tops, call it snobbish if you like but they truly are unmitigated crap, and the mid market tabloids are not a huge deal better. I quite enjoy all of the qualities, even those that sometimes make my blood boil; perhaps they don't quite have 'worthiness' of, say, their US cousins but they still feature quality journalism intelligent comment, even on rare occasion in the Independent, and leaven the mix with a moderate amount of entertainment.

For all that, you can't ignore the influence publications like the Sun, for better or worse, do have. The initial headlines did not look good for Cameron, as they ran with a 'Mission Impossible' theme for him with his '3 days to save the Conservative party'. Reading the whole coverage though left the distinct impression that the editorial line was that it was a mission the paper hoped he would succeed in.

Gone were the parroting of claims Cameron's supposed lack of substance, replaced with a focus on issues around which he could unite both party and, I presume, the Sun readership. Gone too was the half-hearted thin praise for the Prime Minister; true, it has rarely gone beyond a general sense of him being 'better the devil we know', but it was replaced with what often amounted to all out criticism.

It was still a long way from a Cameron endorsement, but combined with their campaign for a referendum on the EU Reform Treaty the Sun does seem to me manoeuvring into a position where it would be very hard for them to cheer on Brown in a snap election.

Were the mid-market tabloids to suddenly swing back to their traditional political bearings life could become very interesting for Brown, and perhaps the idea that he might risk loosing an ace from his hand might make the gamble too big for him to contemplate.

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