I’ll be joining Keir Starmer and his shadow cabinet team for a drink’s reception in London next week.
I expect the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues will be in celebratory mood, and not just because Christmas is upon us.
It has been an atrocious year for the government. Three prime ministers, four chancellors, party-gate, and ‘Truss-enomics’, which cost the country north of £30 billion. High inflation, hikes in interest rates, and soaring energy prices just added to the Conservatives woe.
Meanwhile, Starmer has surrounded himself with a shadow cabinet he feels comfortable with, enjoyed a surge in the polls that has resulted in record 20% plus leads, and a Labour conference in Liverpool which was the party’s most successful get together since the heady days of New Labour and Tony Blair.
Political commentators have already decided that, despite having suffered its worst poll defeat in modern history just three years ago, Labour will win the next General Election, likely to be held in 2024, for the first time since 2005.
Given the continuing internecine warfare that continues to plague the government, tax rises on the way, and a really tough winter ahead, what could possibly go wrong for Keir?
Well, if you ask him and his supporters, quite a lot. For a start, the old adage ‘a week is a long time in politics’ has never been truer. So, being two years away from an election means that much can still change.
Sunak and his Chancellor Hunt may have had a rocky start having inherited a shambles, but they will hope that they have got all of the bad news out of the way, and that they can start to drip feed more positive messaging in the New Year.
The other hope that the Tories, and I’m sure all of us have, is an ending of the Ukraine conflict. If Putin is defeated and the war ends in the Spring, as many predict, then it will inevitably lead to a boost for the global economy.
The other possible banana skin for Labour is the so-called ‘woke’ agenda. The Conservatives will be doing all it can to portray Labour as a party full of fruitcakes who are obsessed with trans rights, Black Lives Matter, and eco-warriors.
Having been out of power for over twelve years, Labour will know they can take nothing for granted, and that complacency is not an option. The threats are real, the chance of a reversal of fortunes real too.
Nonetheless, all that being said, I will be amazed if Keir Starmer is not our next PM. Maybe the next drinks reception I’ll get invited to with him will be hosted at 10 Downing Street.