It is notable that an election seems to be creeping back onto the agenda and into the media and public consciousness again and with that the sense that Brown has not got long, or cannot survive too long, and that the next prime minister is to be David Cameron. Even Ian Hislop made that comment on Have I Got News For You. But this talk, particularly if it increases in speculating on the performance of a Cameron led Conservative government, could benefit Brown and Labour.
In 1992 Labour won the campaign but lost the election. One reason was that there was a nervousness about the extent to which Neil Kinnock would perform as prime minister. In other while the opposition leader may be well liked he (or she) may not be perceived as a national leader and their team may not be fully trusted. Thus as we move into next year and if speculation continues, the questions for both Brown and Cameron are:
- what do popularity ratings mean, and can they convert to votes?
- has Labour lost public confidence completely or is it the economy that determines victory or defeat?
- is Cameron perceived as a prime minister, and does the public have confidence in his front bench team?
The answers to these questions should shape the permanent campaign and the election campaign whenever it is held for both the contenders for government.