Off to hear the Queen’s Speech in a few minutes. Is it a sign of ageing that I seem to take up opportunities like this? In the past I would have said ‘why do I want to go, if I want to watch all that Black Rod nonsense, I can watch it on telly?’.
Politically, where do we stand now? We are coming out of the third major pendulum swing since Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, with Labour appearing to fall back in most polls since the PBR. The core factors playing against a Labour victory in 2010 are still there:
• Gordon Brown finds it hard to connect with ‘middle England’
• After three terms the public are bored and disillusioned with Labour
• David Cameron’s Conservatives, while far from convincing, are not useless or frightening.
Labour strategists must feel ambivalent about the QS. On the one hand, any Government wants to set the agenda, talking about how it is trying to make the country better. On the other hand, Gordon seems more credible and popular when he is dealing with a crisis. Whatever today’s headlines I suspect the economy is going to be the dominant issue in British politics right up to the next election. The crisis may suit the Labour Government and it might benefit from any signs of recovery, but it is still most likely that the next election will be fought against the background of a long and exhausting downturn.
We shouldn’t underestimate how far our societies have pulled apart. Yet there is hope for renewal, says Anthony Painter. The question is not whether we come together – but how.