It strikes me the election campaign should be three and a half weeks rather than 4 and a half. Any excitement left in the campaign seems to have evaporated and the parties just seem to be grinding it out. An Observer interview with Gordon Brown in which he accuses the Lib Dems of having made up their policies one lunchtime in the pub is symptomatic. (How come, then, the IFS said that while all the parties weren't giving the voters the whole picture - particularly on spending cuts - the Lib Dems were the best of a bad bunch in this regard?)
Polls in the main show Tories now at around 34-35% although there is a rogue poll from ComRes showing them at 38%. I think it's going to be Tories on about 34%, with Labour and the Lib Dems at about the 28% mark each. So the Tory advance will be largely due to falls in Labour support rather than Cameron picking up much in the way of extra votes. When you compare it with the 44% that Thatcher secured in 1979 or the 46% that Heath secured in 1970, it's pathetic really. But then, so was 35% for Blair in 2005. This fucking stupid electoral system... mark "damaged" and return for repair at the first opportunity.
Using the BBC election calculator, putting in 34% for the Tories and 28% for the other two parties gives Labour and the Tories almost the same number of seats. So if it really does stay like that, a Lib-Lab coalition for electoral reform is still possible. But Clegg would insist that Brown vacates Number 10, Brown won't want to move, and so I can't see it happening unless they put Clegg in as PM. Are Labour MPs gonna swallow that? Probably not. In any case, I think the Tories will actually do slightly better than that in the marginals... probably they'll come away with about 290 seats. And then we will get a minority Tory govt... hopefully the most hapless administration in recent history. Certainly they have the raw material to make a right pig's ear of things.
On the other hand, a really clear tactical vote with the anti-Tory voters splitting between Labour and the Lib Dems in key marginals could really stuff the Tories. So it's an extremely difficult call. But having analysed, cross analysed and over analysed these goddamn polls, I'm just waiting for the polling stations to actually open so we can get this thing out of the way. What was that thing the seventies Elvis did... put himself to sleep for about 3 days with anaesthetic, sustained by an intravenous drip of papaya juice. It was a weight-losing measure, but of course, because the juice had calories in it, he'd actually gained weight when he woke up. I'll have that drip please... with mild, rather than juice. 72 hours and then a crate of 24 for the count. Actually if DaveCam wins a big majority you can leave that drip on... I won't be needing the next 5 years.
In terms of Labour's medium term future, I'm actually hoping for a Tory minority administration and the resignation of Brown... because I can't bear putting this guy through another administration, or another election, as Labour leader. It's like Frank Field said (an assent which I don't often indicate in relation to Mr Field): Brown hates the job, he's only really there out of sheer obstinacy, and it's bloody painful to watch. Give it to someone who really wants it, please.
Who should the next leader be? As you might expect, I've got a longer list of people whom it definitely SHOULDN'T be than whom it should. Not Mandelson; not Harman; probably not Dave Miliband. Not Ed Balls - although I don't think that Ed is as bad as many people say, I just don't think he can win an election. Not any of the Blairites who have fortunately departed the scene anyway. I think Ed Miliband could do a very good job - the danger is that he won't stand if his brother stands. Alan Johnson and Jon Cruddas would be other good options. Anyway, that will be some entertainment for the summer/autumn.