Press control?

music_buttonChannelling his inner Master Alan WatkinsJohn Rentoul gives us an Almanack for the year to May 2015 and the (definitely overdue) General Election. Characteristically, it’s thought through, thoughtful, provocative, and inevitably mis-conconceived.

At first look — with the two biggest Scottish papers now in the Yes #indyref camp — the pivotal moment is 18th September:

Scottish referendum. If Scotland votes to stay in the Union, that would be a huge relief for Cameron. Although the Tories would be unlikely to gain much electoral benefit north or south of the border, if Scotland votes for independence, the rest of this timeline could look very different – it would be a great failure for Cameron and he might even resign as Prime Minister

It would be; he won’t.

What got me was this prognostication (to which I return in a moment):

November 2014

Conservatives move into lead in the opinion polls. In most elections since the war, there has been a swing to the Government in the year before elections

We’ve seen this assumption repeatedly in Rentoul’s columns. It may happen — and, since polls are now tied to assumed political allegiances four years back, and are therefore dodgy at best, with a =/- 2% error and nobody checking, most probably will. It is also true that, at each General Election since way back, expected winners have been able to claim “Things Can Only Get Better”. This time the embuggerances are:

  •  that the Tories are yoked to the LibDems: any credit will be fought for, amid kicking, screaming and rattles cascading out of prams.
  • Meanwhile, there’s still the small matter of the Tory hierarchs bridging the Great Rift Valley of #Britexit.
  • After all that, the Tories need to be not just ahead, but on 40%, and six points ahead of Labour, to overcome the differentials in the electoral system, and form a one-party government.

vive_la_rentree_sarko_m[1]What I’d be expecting is any improvement in ConDem (especially Tory) ratings to develop over a long, leisurely hot summer.

Then in September, the clouds will gather, the credit card bills arrive with all the holiday spending, la rentreé of school and daily-grind (the best quick rendering of boulot, a word we should import, I can come up with), the realisation it’s three-and-a-half long months all downhill and dour to the Yule-tide debauch.

And the most dismal Mondays of the year will be 26th October and 3rd November. It’s “Spring forward, Fall back with summer time”. Suddenly we are returning from work and the school-run in a damp, greasy, fallen-leaves-splattered dankness.

John Rentoul throws in a graphic, based on Dennis Kavanagh and Philip Cowley’s The British General Election of 2010. I used to collect these, and am still used to thinking of them as “Nuffield Studies”. They are what Peter Riddell properly termed The Wisden of Politics. Nothing is as good as it used to be in The Old Days, so now I wait for then to turn up in Oxfam.

I have to say I find that graphic a confused and confusing effort, particularly so because it is appended to that comment above (and remember my assumption two paragraphs back):

November 2014

Conservatives move into lead in the opinion polls. In most elections since the war, there has been a swing to the Government in the year before elections


By comparison, The Guardian back in the throes of 2010 came up with something that I regard as far, far better, more user-friendly, and more informative:


Go to the original, and click through for the data from which that is derived.

This is going to be a very unpredictable year. I hesitate to predict how we shall react to:

  • Two elections this month (Boroughs — actually the more significant of the two and MEPs).
  • Then the rushed Newark by-election in June, “rushed” because the incumbent Tories dare not allow the Kippers time to cobble anything like an organisation.
  • Then the #indyref.
  • Along with any other “Events, dear boy, events” which are still happily veiled by mists of unrealised time.

Nor do I presume to assume that over fifty-two iterations of Harold Wilson’s “long time in politics“, all kinds of mayhem and mischief may, or may not eventuate.

What I do know is John Rentoul is a very brave man building his hill of beans in this crazy world.


1 Comment

Filed under Britain, Elections, Independent, John Rentoul, Scotland, Tories.

One response to “Press control?

  1. Pingback: I’ve Got a Ferridge Sticking up My Nose | Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service

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