Poor beleaguered Gordon Brown. No sooner does he start a "recovery" strategy, than it all falls to pieces again. It's how publicity seems to work. Once you get into a hole, even if you stop digging, other people queue up to throw dirt in on top of you. For example, the "fuel strategy" announced by Gordon this week turns out to be lukewarm, with only pensioners of a certain age or circumstance qualifying for free insulation. However, that was not what the PM said at his press conference. It's hardly an earth-shattering mistake, but it adds to the mess he's currently in.
Now a handful of disaffected Labour MPs have put their heads above the parapet and called for a leadership election. Although they are hardly likely to muster the seventy supporters they need, it's worth recalling that a similar bid by backbencher Sir Anthony Meyer led to the downfall of Margaret Thatcher. As BBC Political editor Nick Robinson put it this week "It's sometimes the peasant's revolt that brings down the monarch".
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, preparing for his first party conference as leader, must be pleased and annoyed. Mostly the latter, I suspect, since the potential backstabbing of Brown will keep the LibDems out of the headlines, yet again. They can't seem to buy publicity (unless one of their MPs admits to sex, drugs or even rock and roll). David Cameron and the Tories are looking happier, but not as much as you might think. Their danger is peaking too early. We may be two years from an election, and a lot can happen. Brown may recover (unlikely in my view), or young Milliband may take over and revive party fortunes. No-one knows. The best that Brown can hope for is a sudden change in economic fortunes, for which he can take the credit (without the crunch).
I have no political allegiance (since I work with MPs pf all parties), and I've worked in and around Westminster long enough to know that politicians are mostly well-meaning people overwhelmed by events, just like you and I would be. Despite the ravings of a few critics, none of them is "evil" or means harm to any sector of society. More often than not, events outside their control shape their destinies. If I was Gordon's PR advisor (a job I would need to be paid a lot to take), I would tell him to sit tight and not try any gimmicky initiatives. Cameron, on the other hand, needs to take every opportunity to increase his poll lead, which will surely weaken at some point in the future.
When the election finally comes, just like last time, there will be scant differences between the party manifestoes. As Harold Wilson said, "a week is a long time in politics", and there's no telling who will win two years hence.