What chance a second term for Cameron? Right now the odds aren’t great. Bookies are apparently suggesting that if there was a general election tomorrow, no party would have an overall majority. If there was, the Labour party would be the largest party. This is an optimistic scenario if ever there was one – must be Tory bookies. The Liberal vote is almost certain to collapse, and it won’t be the Tories who pick up the Liberal votes. It’ll be Labour. A Labour majority is the most likely outcome.
The Tory grand strategy to achieve an overall majority in 2015 is in need of some serious modification. Things are not going to plan. Clegg and the Liberals might have been successfully trashed by tuition fees and AV, but George Osborne’s austerity regime to get rid of the deficit in one parliament is proving to be over ambitious and potentially disastrous. With a double-dip recession on the way, growth nowhere to be seen and European export markets stalling, Britain is heading for a serious slump. A slump so severe that it may take a decade before proper growth returns.
So bang goes the plan to have a big give away just before the next election. Cameron is going to have to fight on his record, and that has every possibility of being utterly dismal. The way things are going there’s going to be a lot of unhappiness about in 2015 and the Tories are going to get the blame.
If that wasn’t enough, Hackgate is hovering over Cameron – and Osborne – like a huge rain cloud about to dump. Well before 2015 Andy Coulson, Cameron’s erstwhile Communications Director, is very likely to be standing in the dock. He knows what Cameron knew and when he knew it. It’s not only Cameron’s judgement that will be highlighted – again, but the fact that he’s a player in the game, not a spectator. It will do him a power of no good.
Is there a way out? Well, probably there is, but the likelihood of Cameron or Osborne recognising what it is they have to do is pretty slim. Why? Firstly because it means reining back on the austerity programme and increasing government spending. They have to rescue what confidence there is left before it disappears down the drain by creating employment and increasing consumer spending. Secondly, they need new, fresh ideas to generate long-term growth in the economy. They seem to be fresh out of ideas on this. Lastly, Osborne’s debt reduction fanaticism is not going to be neutralised by rational argument. It’s about the man. It’s about losing face – and we’re going to have to pay the price for that. It’s going to be a heavy one.
The opposition benches beckon.